Long before the series transitioned into the world of action, the Fast & Furious franchise focused on street racing. Fast & Furious: Full Throttle is a tabletop take on the series’ racing roots. Players will compete against each other in street races, vying for first place, without any of the punching and stunt work that would work its way into the action later. Does this licensed racing game have the nitro it needs to push it across the finish line?
The game comes with a double-sided board that features different road configurations. Unlike most racing games, the tracks are not designed to form a loop. Instead, you get segments of track where you’re free to designate start and end lines wherever you want. It makes a lot of thematic sense, as there was never really circular tracks in the movies.
Each player will place their car token on the starting line and have a few things in front of them. They’ll have a hand of six cards that will control gear shifting and movement, as well as a dashboard that displays what gear you’re in and what mods you have available to you. For advanced players, you can even use character cards that let you play as one of 12 different characters from the movies, which also give you a unique player power.
Modding is the coolest part of this game. Players will get upgrade tokens at the start of the game equal to the number of mod icons appear on the track. These tokens give you power-ups that you’ll spend throughout the game, which give you things such as extra speed, drifting and other game-changing abilities. You can invest in getting a little bit of everything or a handful of your favourites, giving you a lot of flexibility in how you play the game.
On your turn, you can discard three cards to shift up a gear or discard two to shift down one. You can then play sets of cards that will move your vehicle. When you play a set of cards, you will then draw Speed cards equal to the number of cards you played. From there, you’ll move one of the speed values indicated on the cards equal to what gear you’re in. The player who crosses the finish line first when all players have played an equal number of turns wins. In the event of a tie, the player who has the most extra speed left when crossing the finish line is the victor.
The actual act of driving is kind of clunky. It’s a bit weird getting used to how to read the cards, as there’s a lot going on in each and they serve multiple purposes. Basically, the more cards you discard, the more chances you get at reaching a top speed. You’ll choose one and move your car that many spaces. However, as soon as you fall behind and want to kick it into high gear, you run into some serious risks.
In 5th and 6th gear, you run the risk of peeling out, causing your movement values to be greatly reduced. While max speed can be upwards of 20 spaces, you might draw two cards that only let you move two or three spaces. When this happens, its effect on the outcome is devastating. It’s a way to limit lead players from running away, but it’s also a way to crush losing players who fall behind. As such, the risk rarely felt like it paid off.
I’m also not a fan of the winning condition. While it’s in place to negate the first turn advantage, it just doesn’t feel right that the person who crosses the finish line first isn’t immediately declared as the winner. Really takes away from the immersion.
When my wife picked up Fast & Furious: Full Throttle from the clearance shelf, I thought it was going to be a dumpster fire of a game. It certainly isn’t that, but it has some glaring flaws that keep it out of pole position. The game’s implementation of flexible tracks and car mods are great, but the actual rules that govern movement and winning don’t work as smoothly as they could have. Unless you have to play as the Dom Toretto and the rest of the crew, you’re better off playing one of the many other racing board games on the market.