The Fast and the Slightly Mad?

It appears the Project CARS franchise will take a page out of the Forza Motorsport playbook and churn out their own lighthearted alter-ego, albeit with a major licensing tie-in. German gaming website GameStar.de have reported this morning that hints left around the internet by head of Slightly Mad Studios Ian Bell, as well as publisher Bandai-Namco’s previous relationship with the films, heavily imply that the yet-to-be-announced franchise to act as an arcade alternative to their hardcore-oriented simulator will be none other than a series of Fast and Furious games for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Supposedly wrangled away from the grasps of incompetent shovelware developers and placed into the hands of a team whose entire gaming history revolves around cars, cars, and more cars, if this rumor materializes, it might be the first time we’ll actually get to see if the insanity from the silver screen translates into an enjoyable, satisfactory video game.

But while giving the reigns of the franchise to Slightly Mad Studios would guarantee the title won’t be immediately sent to the bargain bin upon release, and will pump a lot of money into the studio to help fuel their future simulation projects, I can’t help but have mixed feelings about this endeavor if I wake up in a few weeks time and see the rumors have been confirmed. Producing a mass-market arcade driving game with guns, explosions, cinematic sequences, and a compelling story that has little to do with cars would generate several major mountains to climb in quick succession for a team who until this point have specialized in nothing but pure, hardcore racing simulators, and many sim aficionados still aren’t entirely convinced the team have mastered their home genre as of yet.

Personally, I think Slightly Mad Studios would be fully capable of creating a competent, lighthearted arcade racer under the Fast and Furious banner had this partnership come about long ago, when the film series was just establishing itself as a cult classic among teenagers of the early 2000’s. The first few feature-length movies in the series centered primarily around the import tuner culture of Southern California and the accompanying narcotics trading rings, an element of the films that could be carefully removed from the virtual environment in favor of fleshing out the street racing aspect in a manner akin to Need for Speed: Underground 2.

However, the theme of the franchise has shifted radically into the realm of organized crime syndicates and bank heists rather than street racing – with the diverse cast of highly customized vehicles merely serving as an extension of the characters in the films – and I can’t imagine Universal Studios would want the video game tie-in to deviate from these themes, as the previous few games have all been mission-based driving affairs.

The problem with mission-based driving games, and even car combat games if you’d like me to go that far, is that they typically don’t do so well when finally released out into the wild. Vin Diesel’s Wheelman received only lukewarm scores, while players universally blasted Ubi-Soft’s The Crew for an intrusive, hokey, and downright annoying storywishing it didn’t exist at all and just wanting to roam the map competing in races and upgrading their cars. Electronic Arts twice dabbled in heavy narratives and “action driving” sequences with Need for Speed: Undercover and Need for Speed: The Run, but both were panned by basically everybody who bought them; Undercover going down as the worst Need for Speed release on the Xbox 360, with The Run establishing itself as a close second. You have to go back two console generations – to Rockstar San Diego’s Smuggler’s Run franchise – to find a solid mission-based driving game, and even then, it was from a team who had at that point already created three other mission based driving games.

Major developers with decades of experience in multiple video game genres just can’t figure out how to make these types of games appealing to critics or enjoyable for the common gamer they’re marketed towards, so a team like Slightly Mad Studios – who have specialized in nothing other than hyper-obscure simulators with European sports car racing at the forefront – would have an exponentially more difficult time molding such a project into a compelling experience.

With Project CARS 2 on the horizon, and a handful of games that didn’t entirely convince myself nor the sim community that Slightly Mad Studios have mastered their “home genre” so to speak and would be fully prepared to take on a new challenge, I’m also wondering why there wasn’t more of a tangible effort to remain tight-lipped about this incoming announcement, even if GameStar’s productions are incorrect and we end up finding out the unannounced movie franchise is Mad Max. The exact licensing partnership doesn’t really change the final element of criticism SMS may receive on this front.

There are a lot of people across various sim racing forums that felt burned by Project CARS (though there seems to be a cult following around the two Need for Speed Shift games), and Slightly Mad Studios have spent the past few months reassuring them that the team are 110% focused on ensuring every last possible need of theirs will be met in Project CARS 2. That game is still many months away from release, you’re spending a lot of time carefully coddling the community into giving you another chance, and suddenly to the outside world it seems as if a portion of the team have now been allocated to a totally unrelated piece of software just as crunch time on Project CARS 2 is about to begin. I’m not a fan of the mixed messages here, nor the way information was allowed to leak out when it could actually backfire and upset the fan base of another one of your products; it gives them the impression you’re not focusing as much as you said you would.

Regardless, we’ll see how this all plays out in time. One more racing game from a large studio isn’t exactly going to hurt the genre, so long as it offers something unique and enticing compared to what else is on the market.

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74 thoughts on “The Fast and the Slightly Mad?

  1. Maybe they can just repackage the unreleased World Of Speed, and not use much Project CARS in it.

    That said, we’ve never seen an open world racer with full simulation physics before (apart from Street Legal Racing Redline by Invictus (1nsane)), so that could be interesting, if it happened.

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  2. Please leave the gun play and the explosions out , another sim open world game would be more than welcomed .

    Would love sim aspects with a 1000HP blown street car . Midnight club wasn’t bad but arcadey as fark.

    Oh and complete the first game and patch it properly please Ian.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The can’t do a arcade racer. The cars need to be able to slide for a game like that. And not snap overstear every time

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  3. Another shovelware title to the SMS list: Shift, Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends, Project CARS, Red Bull Air Race: The Game, World of Speed and now some Fast and Furious game.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No, James.

    You completely and utterly missed out on THE best mission based car combat game. Interstate 76 and its Nitro addon pack. Which used the Mechwarrior 2 engine, and both games were/are cult classics.

    I82 however, sucked. Smugglers Run was nowhere near as good as I76…

    That being said, SMS doing a FNF game, oh dear gods no,, I mean the last FNF stuff was the Forza Horizon 2 pack which was mission based and let you roam around that game’s world. Still…..SMS may just have to put off their other projects to meet Universal’s release schedule and heavy restrictions on what is/isn’t in the game…and probablt get OMG GTA RIPOFF comparisons too.

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  5. “for a team who until this point have specialized in nothing but pure, hardcore racing simulators”

    Who writes this shit? Did you even play pcars?

    Hardcore racing simulator, my ass.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. for a team who until this point have specialized in nothing but pure, hardcore racing simulators

      You would need to be an SMS employee and/or Ian Bell’s sexual partner to say something so stupid right?

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      1. GTR 1
        GT Legends
        GTR 2

        Alright so that’s three hardcore sims right there.

        The unreleased Porsche Experience game.
        Shift 1
        Shift 2
        Ferrari Racing Legends

        Their attempts at Forza, so four semi-sims.

        Project CARS.

        Sim with lots of bugs.

        Unless you purposely move the goalposts there’s nothing wrong with that general description. They have built games that exclusively center around real world vehicle handling characteristics. Better?

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        1. Seriously how much did he pay to make you his cum dumpster?
          I bet it wasn’t much. What did you do, shovel shit for a living before hand?
          Should have kept shoveling, and your anal virginity… if that was still a thing.
          At least you could have kept some delusion of self respect.

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  6. Dammit, racing game fans are funny folk.

    The Crew has story – OOMG CRAPPY INTRUSIVE STORY WAAH SHIT GAME RUBBISH TRASH BDHEHU

    NFS Most Wanted 2012 – no story, straight to the point fun – WAHH Y U NO STORY LIKE THE 2004 (which was horrible in that game anyway) GAME RUBBISH TRASH WAAAH

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  7. Fast and Furious games do not have a good track record of success or quality. Then again, SMS kinda doesn’t just yet, either, so…

    (I really liked the Forza Horizon 2 standalone F&F thing, but that was successful mostly due to reusing plenty of existing assets, so they could just focus on over-the-top missions. As far as racing game plots go, “we’re hiring you to get back our cars in pink slip races” is simultaneously ridiculously paper-thin and perfect.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. >it might be the first time we’ll actually get to see if the insanity from the silver screen translates into an enjoyable, satisfactory video game.

    The Fast and Furious standalone game for Forza Horizon 2 was really good IMHO. The FFB was actually the best I’ve experienced on a console (along with the rest of FH2) and the cars were fun and different. Especially cool was watching the throttle control on the giant BDS blower on DM’s restomod Charger.

    If you’ve got an Xbone and a TX wheel, check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good to know, since I’m considering setting up my old 360-based rig with the CSR Elite, just so I can occasionally drive the Peugeot 905 and my 3.5 year old won’t constantly want to use my driving rig 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fixed 30 fps i wouldn´t call “excellently” and than there´s the input lag on the Xbox especially with the wheel. With gamepad it´s much better.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Ask Turn 10 or Microsoft. I guess it´s the shitty laggy XBox itself and it makes Forza not playable for me. I had to setup every car to understeer because catching a slide was impossible. Just look at your inputs and what the graphical wheel is doing. It´s far better in sync with a gamepad. But the last time i played it was 01/2015, so maybe they fixed this issue meanwhile.

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            1. Are you sure it wasn’t your TV? I recall one time forgetting to put mine into Game mode, the lag shot up to around 150ms, and I about went nuts trying to figure out what was wrong because suddenly I couldn’t drive/catch oversteer (exactly as you’re describing) and later I noticed the wheel in the game was out of sync.

              I just took another look with my CSRE in FM4 and FH, the wheel in-game is perfectly in sync with the real one. No lag at all. I think it’s your TV.

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    1. Haven’t played horizon 2 . But played the shit out off horizon 3 and loved every minute of it.
      Quality game even quite fun in a public lobby because of the xp based championship. Can’t wait to try out the hot wheels expansion looks like a ton of fun.
      Unlike the so called Sims on console this actually works

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      1. I’m very tempted to give it a go on Windows 10, but I can’t get my wireless 360 controller working with the demo thus far. I hear some people had success after reinstalling all the drivers, but I’m wondering if it’s good enough to be worth that hassle and also $135 for the main game and DLC.

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        1. Well worth it, especially with the latest pc update. FH3 wasn’t well optimised on PC at launch but is now excellent. I think there is also an offer on the game plus DLC on the Xbox store with the launch of the Hot Wheels pack, about half price. You can buy either the pc or Xbox version as it’s a play anywhere game. If your controller works in Windows it should work with FH3, have you got the Xbox Accessories app installed?

          Brilliant casual car game and a great open world setting. Even the online is good so well worth your money.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. SMS-after the horrible shift games-Pcars- A broken arse, shift recycled, race game, peddled by console plebs that dont know no better, and headed by literally one of the worst dev heads Ive ever come across, who created a cult legion of utter bell ends, more accustomed to “console wars”, and a cheesy arse marketing campaign full of half truths at best, and weird weird bugs you shouldn’t even see in a race game.

    Pcars had a huge team for a so called sim dev too, and was using a already well established race engine from ISI which they managed to absolutely destroy, and appear to spend most of their time marketing and employing (wrong word, the teens payed SMS to market for them) insecure young teens looking for a cult like figure to follow, to push his shit on other bewildered ppl, who are suckers for rain effects and flashy videos.

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  10. didn’t they say it wasn’t a racing game. I didn’t watch the films as i think they are dire but i assume they raced each other.

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    1. Street racing is just their cover story for driving tuner cars, their real area of expertise is crime (either as police or as criminals, protagonists are both in various movies).
      F&F1 -> using honda civics to steal semi trucks. street races happen just for fun & money
      F&F2 -> shipping illegal drugs in fast cars. street races to get hired
      F&F3 -> general organized crime not really involving the cars. street races just to destroy everything
      F&F4 -> importing illegal drugs in fast cars. street races to get hired
      F&F5 -> organized crime at first, then bank heist with fast cars. street races just for fun
      F&F6 -> general organized crime using cars. no pure street races really
      F&F7 -> continuing from 6
      F8 -> haven’t seen it, waiting for it to come out on vhs

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  11. Knowing all the prior quality SMS products over the past decade, I think it’s safe to say that we are all in for a real treat from your sugar daddy with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will be interesting listening to how Austin justifies this as being acceptable because it’s his sugar daddy Ian doing it.

      In the past he was very critical of practices like this, a quick google search for articles on DLC here shows a ton of articles whinging about exactly this type of behavior.

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  12. > I’m not a fan of the mixed messages here, nor the way information was allowed to leak out when it could actually backfire and upset the fan base of another one of your products; it gives them the impression you’re not focusing as much as you said you would.

    These are my sentiments exactly (and maybe you guys accusing the author of bias should actually read to the end of an article occasionally).

    SMS taking on something new is fine. But they, in particular, have yet to demonstrate an ability to FINISH a game. To this day, NFS2 is positively riddled with bugs, typos and physics insanity that the community had to fix for them. They never really finished PCARS (and never will). This is a studio with a track record of abandoning games in favor of announcing sequels and new projects.

    Devotion to quality has most certainly *not* been their métier thus far. I certainly hope they turn that around and make all us doubters look like fools, because the goal here is not to win arguments in the comment section, but to actually have another great sim worth playing.

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    1. Again what my little birdy told me is that pcars2 is exactly the same game as pcars. Except with some extra shit added to it. So still a bag of wank

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      1. The problem with PCARS was really just lack of attention to detail, Stalinist handling of dissent and a rushed, half-assed beta period that failed to correct many glaring issues prior to Retail.

        Even so, if SMS had continued polishing the game after release, I’m confident they could’ve still made a good game. Instead, they stopped further development and announced PCARS2.

        For me, the question is not “Can they ship a perfect game on Day One?”, because no dev has managed to do this in the world of sim-racing. What matters to me is: Will they actually *fix* the inevitable shortcomings of PCARS2 that are found after release? Or will they just keep announcing New Exciting Franchises and Sequels in lieu of ongoing development?

        It does make short-term financial sense for a developer to dump a game after that first 2 weeks of sales. However, by doing so, they’re killing the reputation of their company and setting themselves up to be regarded as the Acclaim Entertainment of Sim-Racing, where your reputation is so piss-poor that it begins to dampen enthusiasm for anything you do.

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        1. They released free cars monthly for a year and monthly patches for 1.5 years b4 moving onto the seq. So slight exaggeration to say they abandoned it after 2 weeks.

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          1. The overarching point here is that there was no real *commitment* to getting it right in the end. Look at how they’ve continued chipping away at Assetto Corsa for a contrasting approach (though I live in daily fear they’ll fuck up the tire model again at some point).

            This having been said, SMS seems to have learned a lot from the WMD experience. They abandoned the crowdfunding scheme, and I’m really hopeful that, with a more conventional testing program, they can produce something of higher quality this time.

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  13. Too big a change in stance about SMS and pCARS. This is general lighthearted criticism when the reality is the studio hasn’t delivered on any title yet, and Ian is raking in all the cash to develop everything.

    It’s likely going to be a poor game and pCARS 2 will also likely not deliver on the hype. It’s just best to avoid any SMS-related articles because you have become partial to them. They paid for your ride and give you a substantial amount of money. That’s fine, you cashed in, we understand. But focus your critic efforts elsewhere.

    Like

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