A Great ‘Fast and Furious’ Game Could Compete With ‘Grand Theft Auto’ – Forbes

Posted: Monday, April 06, 2015

‘Furious 7’ demolished records this weekend with a $143.6 million domestic debut, upsetting traditional notions about when summer blockbuster season can actually begin. ‘Furious’ is the biggest April debut by a mile, has the ninth highest opening weekend of all time, and in total, brought in $384 million worldwide, doubling its production budget in a single weekend.

So, what to do with all that money? Make more movies obviously, and continue to attempt to outdo themselves. But other than the obvious parade of new sequels, I have an alternative suggestion: The Fast and Furious team should invest in producing a high quality video game.

Yes, Fast and Furious games do exist. There have been a few in the past for PS2, PS3, 360 and most famously, the arcade game that debuted in 2004, yet still manages to be embedded in every movie theater I’ve ever been to.

None of these are good games. Not even close. Given where the series was back in 2004-2006 when most of these games were released, that’s no surprise because the franchise as a whole was on life support. But more recently with the release of Fast & Furious: Showdown in 2013, there’s no excuse. That game has a 22 on Metacritic based on nine reviewers who could actually stomach it, and a 1.3 user rating which is one of the lowest I’ve ever seen.

This is completely unacceptable.

Arguably the most dominant video game force in the world remains the Grand Theft Auto series, the open world franchise full of gunslinging, car chases and over-the-top action, and the last game debuted to $800M in worldwide revenue within 24 hours of release.

At this present time, Grand Theft Auto has practically zero competition in the industry. Saints Row made a go of it for a time, but given that the last installment had your character becoming President of the United States and acquiring superpowers to fight aliens, suffice to say that series has moved in a different direction. Besides that, all the imitators have come and gone, and Grand Theft Auto remains king.

fast and furious
Enter The Fast and the Furious.

In its early stages, back when the series was largely about street racing, this suggestion wouldn’t have made much sense. But now, with the series leaving racing as a footnote and getting into the blockbuster action game, it’s hard not to imagine a GTA-style Fast and Furious game that could do wonders with the license if developed properly.

Picture this: You start out as a no-name street racer in LA, and the beginning of the game is your typical Need for Speed Underground set-up. You win some particularly impressive races, and eventually discover one is against Letty Ortiz herself. She hands you a wad of cash for winning, and a note. On it is an address.

From there, you work to become part of Dominic Toretto’s gang. In the wake of Furious 7 (or 8, or 9, or whenever it would be released), things have calmed down, and Dom can get back up to his old tricks. Mission start off with 2001-era truck heists, but eventually as the plot unfolds, you get into the kind of insane set pieces that have populated the last few films, fleeing from tanks, hijacking military convoys, driving cars through skyscrapers and out of airplanes, etc. Different members of the crew, Roman, Tej, Hobbs, etc, give you missions, and as you rise through the ranks, more and more of the main storyline plays out, and you have access to cooler cars, gear and weapons.

What’s different than Grand Theft Auto? Quite a bit, for a few reasons. First, the license here should be viewed as a pro, not a con. Licensed games have a bad rap, and rightly so, but here, if they could get the actual cast doing facial capture/voicework, you’d automatically have a more compelling, likable cast than any we’ve seen out of Grand Theft Auto. Personally, I’ve found GTA’s “comedy” to be lacking for long while now, which is mostly reliant on the hilarity of complete and utter depravity and nihilism (Trevor and Michael in GTA V) or a world populated by bad celebrity caricatures and “hilarious” sex-pun fake brand names. The Fast and the Furious series has a more appealing type of humor, and a great cast of characters to work with from day one.

Second, though you’re technically criminals, a Fast and the Furious sandbox game could enforce more rigid rules to make players less sociopathic. So while sure, you’re going to be running from the police as is typical of the series, you would be forbidden from sticking an Uzi out your window and mowing down random civilians without hugely detrimental penalties like imprisonment (loss of stats), car impound and destruction, etc. I think there’s a place for a slightly more “moral” sandbox shooter where you can be an outlaw without being a mass murderer, and it would be in keeping with the tone of the series.

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Most of the action would be car-based, obviously, and the game would have to have NFS: Underground/Midnight Club levels of car customization. Your stable of cars in your garage would be your prize possession in the game as you work to upgrade all of them, and in keeping with the “not insane” theme of the game, you would have to earn cars through buying them or racing for pink slips. You couldn’t build your collection just by carjacking any random NPC with a Ferrari. And speaking of Ferrari, given the franchise’s worldwide appeal and the fact that the sandbox wouldn’t just be a GTA-style murder simulator, a Fast and Furious game might actually be able to attract licensed cars, which is something that has forever eluded GTA.

Outside of the car, there’d be gunplay but also a Sleeping Dogs/Arkham style emphasis on hand-to-hand combat, as between The Rock, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey in Furious 7, the series has added impressive fight scenes to its blockbuster arsenal as well.

All of this could work because a Fast and Furious game doesn’t have to be as massive in scale as a GTA. Grand Theft Auto is a great series, but its sprawling maps are probably much bigger than they really need to be, and the series’ endless amount of sidequests and minigames really wouldn’t need to be seen in a Fast and Furious game. No tennis. No cousins calling you to go bowling. No murdering prostitutes in alleyways. A Fast and Furious game could cut much of the fat from open world sandbox games like GTA, often mirrored in too many side quests, and focus on a few core extra activities that make sense within the world, street racing, car stealing and such.

All of this just seems like a natural fit. The Fast and Furious series has made billions by this point, so I have to believe the resources are there to develop something like this. And Vin Diesel himself is an avid gamer, and has worked in the past to ensure his own Riddick games were actually worthwhile to play, and not licensed pieces of crap. Get him involved, and he wouldn’t rest until it was a quality offering.

I’m sick and tired of movie and TV franchises treating video game licenses like some abnormal extra appendage. The potential is there for so many great licensed games, but the industry has to get out of this mindset of scrambling to make a garbage release in time for the new sequel or next season. There is no greater case for this than the potential of a Fast and Furious GTA-killer, and the series is such a cultural phenomenon at this point that it has to establish a video game presence where the most prominent title is something other than a nine year old arcade game. The Fast and the Furious has conquered the world of film, and it’s time for a new challenge that can expand its reach even further.

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