This movie season sees not one but two different racing films hitting theaters — one aimed at a younger, less-mature audience, and the other an animated snail movie from the folks at DreamWorks Animation. One of the two scored a rather entertaining little mobile game tie-in this week. The other just adds drifting to CSR Racing.
Borrowing most of the pages from one of the kings of casual mobile street racing isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fast & Furious 6: The Game looks lovely, plays quite well (at least when it works — user reviews are divided), and adds a little bit of drifting to the shifting gameplay established in its obvious inspiration. It's still about tapping at just the right time, only with drifting you have to tap, hold and release at just the right time as well.
The cars are sexy, collectible and customizable, and I get to ride in a 1972 Ford Gran Torino, which is pretty much all I ever want to do.
The downside here is that not only does Fast & Furious 6: The Game copy the best bits of CSR Racing, it also snagged the worst. A slowly-replenishing fuel gauge restricts your racing to a handful of events in one sitting (unless you pay). Car upgrades past the first time are tagged with arbitrary timers you have to wait out (unless you pay).
What's worse, the pay wall arrives fast and furious. Once you get past the first few races in any of the available events, you'll suddenly stop winning. You'll be told to upgrade your car to be more competitive. You'll try that, but earning prize money is really tough when you never win a race.
So I stopped playing Fast & Furious 6: The Game, as I have no time for this crap anymore. Either let me play or don't. This dance is getting really old.
On the plus side, stopping gave me time to play Turbo Racing League, a charming little racing title from PikPok. Based on the snail-racing blockbuster Turbo, coming in July, this cute and colorful little racer manage to feature actual racing, and it's not horrible at all.
Yes, you're a cartoon snail, but you're a cartoon snail that handles incredibly well as it grinds rails, drifts around corners and stunts off jumps in a variety of different racing events. Of all the 3D racing games I've played with my fingers, Turbo Racing League is easily one of the easiest to control, with four different configurations to choose from (I prefer tapping the sides of the screen to turn).
Players compete events alone or against AI rivals to win stars. Earn enough stars and they'll progress to the next racing class. To prepare for the tougher challenges, players spend tomatoes collected from the track or earned through winning to customize their racer.
She's no 1972 Ford Gran Torino, but she'll do.
There are still annoyances, as there will be with free games. There's the Verizon sponsorship, for one. Every race track features a Verizon phone taped about the starting line, and there's an ongoing $1 million contest that's you see advertised incessantly throughout the game. The action is regularly interrupted by despicable ads, which shouldn't be necessary, what with the big Verizon deal, yet there they are.
But at least Turbo Racing League is vaguely original and immensely playable. I never imagined a day would come where I'd choose a CG mollusk over Vin Diesel, but that's what it's come down to. We'll always have Riddick.
Turbo Racing League
- Genre: Racing
- Developer: PikPok
- Platform: iOS, Android
- Price: Free
Fast & Furious 6: The Game
- Genre: Racing, sort of.
- Developer: Kabam
- Platform: iOS, Android (soon — beware the fake one)
- Price: Free