The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo
The drift focus helps set the game apart, but is the rest of the product good enough elevate it out of the pack?
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo ("drift" is actually nowhere in the game's title) is a solid, inoffensive racing title that most casual gamers will be able to pick up and enjoy. It's clear that the development team didn't have the inclination (or perhaps the time) to take its solid fundamentals and craft a more rewarding overall experience around them, however.
The meat of the game revolves around a story mode, which itself revolves around the well-explored (in the gaming world, anyway) concept of "drifting." Drifting is, in a nutshell, allowing the back end of your vehicle to fishtail around the outside of a curve, causing the driver to temporarily lose control of their vehicle. Sort of. The key is to be in control of this lack of control. If that makes sense. Anyway, the point is, it allows drivers to make it through curves with minimal breaking, at very high speeds. Game makers learned years ago that it also allows for a deliciously fun videogame racing experience - a fact that I-Play has now further reiterated.
The story mode takes gamers through the game's six tracks one after the other. First is a standard race against three opponents - crossing the finish line first is all that matters. Second, you'll be required to fill your respect meter entirely (by performing "mad drifts," of course) in one lap. Lastly you face off against the track's "arena master." Here you must earn more respect than the boss, but also come in first.
The progression and variation of these tasks works well - at first. The problem is that this exact same sequence happens over and over. Six times, across the six tracks, to be exact. There is no story. You get the exact same 1-2 sentence lead-in to every event. Race, show-off, boss battle. Six times. Then you're done. Why not throw in some time trials, or head-to-head respect battles, or at least something other than the same thing, repeatedly?
This lack of story mode variation isn't a huge problem however, for a couple of reasons. The biggest is that separate "Solo Runs" do feature some unique modes. Here you can take part in three one-off events on each track: Time Trial, Last Man Standing, and Survival Run. Survival run is my personal favorite. Your drift meter drops rapidly and continually, and you have to survive as long as possible by refilling it with elaborate drifts. The game saves your top score for each run variety on each track, increasing replay value, but it's a shame there's no support for online leaderboards.
The drifting mechanics themselves are the other reason the weak story mode isn't more of an issue. They have obviously been simplified when compared to console and arcade drift-centric racing games, but are still a lot of fun. Steer into a corner, slide around it, and hit the gas to leave tire marks, smoke, and (hopefully) your opponents in your wake.
There are other good features (upgrade car stats & designs) and detracting issues (wonky collision detection), but I didn't feel they had too much of a positive or negative impact on the final product. Tokyo is a competent racing game with a good, well-executed "hook," but it doesn't do much to elevate it above that level of just being competent. Gamers looking for a solid racing title won't be disappointed, but if you already have one (or more) on your handset, there isn't a big reason to add Drift to your library.
What's Hot: The drifting mechanic gives the game a different feel, and works surprisingly well
What's Not: Lackluster story mode. No multiplayer. Wonky collision detection.