The Fate of the Furious (opens in new tab) - aka Fast and Furious 8 - is out now, bringing with it not only one of the best sequel number puns of recent years ('F-8', see?), but that familiar, nagging feeling that you really, really wish you were in The Fast and the Furious. It’s totally understandable. You want the cars. You want the lifestyle. You want the excitement, and maybe the vests.
But even if you’re a little shy of having a few mil in the bank and a garage bigger than some villages, you can still get a taste of the dream thanks to video games. Oh, but please don’t just buy the official F&F games on last-gen. They may have the name but they’re certainly not the best way to get your fix. The following are way better.
Forza Horizon: Fast and the Furious Digital Edition
Format(s): Xbox One
Well, look at that! There’s a Fast and the Furious standalone expansion for Forza Horizon 2, which was officially licensed to coincide with the release of F&F7. Iconic vehicles from the series (like Dom’s Charger) are recreated in scandalously high detail, and you get to drive them around the same sunny streets as the full-fat Forza Horizon 2, at a mere fraction of the price. It may not be the most exciting game on this list, and you don’t get many hours of unique gameplay either, but it sure is the best-looking F&F experience available. But Forza Horizon 3 is a better game. So… hey, get both. Solved.
Need For Speed Carbon
Format(s): PS2, PS3, Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox 360, PC
An oldie, but probably the purest, most F&F-like street racer ever made. The PS2 version remains the best and still provides a great-looking, smooth-playing racer, full of neons, drifts and impressively stylised live action cut-scenes. The feeling of actually being there, sitting in your car at night with the radio on is beautifully realised. The soundtrack’s great, the handling is more involved than the Underground games that preceded it (though Need For Speed Underground 2 is also worth a look) and it’s just more fun than the more recent, current-gen NFS. This PS2 game has got genuine soul underneath its shiny alloy wheels.
Grand Theft Auto Online
Format(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
It’s almost as though Rockstar made a check-list of features people would need to re-enact The Fast and the Furious movies in Grand Theft Auto, then laid out all the tools ready to enjoy. You can soup up and mod out the exotic (but unlicensed) vehicles in your garage to look recognisably close to most of the cars from the movies. Even that oversized Plymouth Charger rear wing is available, which cannot be coincidence. And in terms of the things to do, you can set up street races, co-ordinate heists, orchestrate ludicrous, multi-vehicle stunts, use pretty much any non-horizontal surface as a ramp, and blow up everything. That makes it quintessentially F&F on and off the road.
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights
Format(s): PS2, PSP, PC
This probably wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the F&F series. Riding the wave of the modded street racing craze back in 2007, this little gem hit PS2 and PSP and is really fun on both. It’s perhaps a little too ‘official’ in its setup – somehow there are grandstands full of people watching the races in the middle of the night in otherwise deserted city streets. But when that nitrous kicks in and the screen shakes, you won’t be thinking about the logistics of what you’re seeing. You’ll be thinking ‘Vroom!’ And you’ll be right to do so.
While this isn’t very ‘street’ savvy at all, it still shares a great number of other ideals with F&F. The cars are beautiful and given loads of gratuitous screen time just for you to ogle them. You can drift them sideways in dedicated challenges or in normal races just because you feel like it. And reputation? This game is ALL about reputation. Whether it’s scoring points for your club or just throwing down the gauntlet to your entire friends list with challenges, there are few racers out there with bravado-led competition so woven into their DNA. And as for speed, well… it’s so fast, sometimes you won’t believe your eyes. Yes, you do need to try this one out.
Project Gotham Racing 4
Format(s): Xbox 360
It’s sad to see this absolutely phenomenal game starting to show its age graphically, but that doesn’t mean its fundamental quality has deteriorated over the years. This is one of the finest street racing games ever made, and has supreme authenticity thanks to the fact that the racing takes place on actual city streets from the real world. It’s also all about driving with style, rewarding slides and sustained breakneck speed with added points. It's a little more serious and restrained than F&F, but no less enthralling.
Format(s): Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC
This is like a slightly more kid-friendly F&F movie. Gang members all settle their disagreements with car races, just like in real life (cough). But, toned down as the aggression might be, all the tropes are in place. There are undercover cops, mysterious villains and takedown missions that threaten to blow your cover if you show too much respect for human life. But the best part is the way you can do all of this with your crew in formation, with four-player co-op online. It sounds an awesome, unofficial recreation of F&F, and it nearly is, even if the game overall would be more accurately named ‘Quite fast and a bit ticked off’.
Format(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Slow-motion car crashes in extreme detail? Showdown races with rivals? Takedowns where you’re rewarded for pushing the opposition into solid objects at high speed? A sprawling city brimming with illicit street racing, and totally open to explore? Sounds amazing, and it still is. With its 60fps graphics and phenomenal speed, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a current-gen game. But no, it’s getting close to a decade old now. Almost as old as F&F itself. The servers may have been switched off, removing its superb, ahead-of-its time online elements, but even so this remains one of the greatest racers ever made. And certainly one of the most satisfying when it comes to vehicular destruction. Both fast and furious, then. And a true classic.