As I watched Vin Diesel and Paul Walker drive a multimillion-dollar luxury car in “Furious 7” from one apartment tower to a second and finally to a third without even breaking a bone, I thought to myself: I am watching a video game.
The Fast & Furious franchise reached a new zenith in over-the-top action films with the recently released “Furious 7.” That aggressive apartment tour scene was only one of several extremely impossible situations that would be right at home in a “Grand Theft Auto” or “Saints Row” game.
The franchise is a perpetual box office darling, with “Furious 7” setting new opening weekend records. The time is perfect to pour some cash into an honest attempt at a “Fast & Furious” game.
Most of the “Fast & Furious” games released are some of the worst in the movie-to-game genre, and that’s saying something. Virtually all of the game adaptations of popular films are garbage, save maybe the Lego remakes. I am certainly not asking for an adaption of “Furious 7.”
The most obvious choice would be a street racing game akin to the “Need for Speed” franchise. Players would pull off increasingly difficult missions while evading the cops in hopes of winning money and glory.
This isn’t the answer. A rush of driving and racing games hit late last year, but launch issues, delays and development mistakes pretty much ruined the sudden resurgence of the racing genre. Plus, we will get a new “Need of Speed” this year. We don’t need two.
Another route could be to create an online game. The franchise, which extends across seven films, has tons of characters and locations rich for the plucking. Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) could offer players drifting missions in Tokyo, while Dominic Toretto (Diesel) dishes out heists in Los Angeles.
An online game might work. Both of the massively multiplayer online (MMO) games centered in the “Star Wars” universe were absolutely fantastic. I also enjoyed “The Matrix: Online.”
However, I am not sure the “Fast & Furious” universe is dynamic enough to support a full-scale MMO title. The storylines and characters aren’t exactly complex.
I’m not sure if an online game focused around driving would take off, either. “Furious 7” moved away from driving a little bit and focused more on violent combat, which would certainly work, but driving is still an important theme. I can’t really think of an MMO title with a good, dynamic driving system.
The real answer was suggested by Forbes’ Paul Tassi, who writes that the “Fast & Furious” franchise could and should compete with “Grand Theft Auto.” Tassi says that “Grand Theft Auto V” went virtually unchallenged and that the step away from cars and towards violence makes “Fast & Furious” an obvious choice to change that.
This makes a lot of sense. The characters and settings from the various movies could be incorporated into a massive, single-player sandbox game just like “Grand Theft Auto V.” A developer could even follow the model further and create an online portion, which makes everyone happy.
It wouldn’t be cheap. “Grand Theft Auto V” took something like $265 million to make. But I don’t think that would be a problem, as “Furious 7” is expected to top $1 billion.
A much larger hurdle would be developing a game that could compete against a well-established gaming franchise without completely copying it. I think 99% of gamers looking at a similar game from the two franchises would go with the tested, critically acclaimed “Grand Theft Auto.”
Still, a similar title would probably be welcomed. “Grand Theft Auto” games typically take several years to develop, so a “Fast & Furious” game could slide into an opposite development cycle and fill a glaring need during the off-years.
The storyline of this potential game would write itself. Because Paul Walker tragically died in a car accident in 2013, his character probably won’t appear in future films. A game could give the player a chance to work from a granny-shifting rookie to Toretto’s new partner, with secondary characters providing various missions along the way.
The trick would be to convince Universal Pictures that an expensive, time-consuming video game venture would be worth the investment. I am sure its executives are quite content to keep pumping the films out — something they know how to do well.
Universal would have to partner with a developer, which would almost certainly have former ties to “Grand Theft Auto” architect Rockstar Games. I doubt that Rockstar itself would be interested in developing a game to compete against its baby — even if both franchises released on different years.
However, it isn’t impossible. Rockstar worked with Paramount Pictures to develop an absolutely stellar adaptation of “The Warriors” that looked, felt and played just like a “Grand Theft Auto” game.
Although the timing is pretty good, I don’t see us getting a decent “Fast & Furious” game in the near future. Great sandbox games take time and money, and I doubt anyone will have the foresight to recognize what a worthwhile investment this would be.