Earlier this week, we had a chance to sit down and have a little chat with Mitch Boyer and Mike Morishita, along with drift team manager Gary McKinney from McKinney Motorsports who is directly involved with the latest streetracing game, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift for both PlayStation 2 and PSP. Unsurprisingly, real-life drifting isn't as easy as it is in a game, let alone designing a system to realistically display how car drifting really is. Luckily, we were given a pleasant 101 on the fundamentals of drifting and how it will apply to their latest game, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
There were many questions, mostly the same ones you'd expect from any movie-to-game adaptation, which evidently will be very loosely tied to the game storywise and focus more on gameplay. Speed is a factor that is strangely more commonly overlooked in racing games, strangely, which is why Boyer and Morishita's main focus is to give the game a great sense of speed.
As with most streetracing games, players will have the possibility to fully customize their vehicles, in addition to real license kits being available. It's a feature that the Tokyo Drift team reiterated as a very important part of the whole experience.
The concept of drifting isn't a new one to the average racer or racing genre enthusiast, but Morishita sent the message that drifting in the game should be as precise as it would be in real life, as it demands very precise control and an insurmountable amount of skill to get the car to do exactly what you need it to. Surprisingly, for a pseudo-arcade game, Tokyo Drift is the least likely candidate to be called an arcade game. It's heavy ties to angle precise drifting would surely follow more suit under a mishmash of Gran Turismo control fused with a Need for Speed: Underground experience.
Player progression and navigation requires said character to drive around the Tokyo bay area, based on real freeways in Japan, to find streetracers to challenge. Racers gather around hot spots, and can be challenged with no pre-determined track or finish line. Once you beat a crew, you gain their respect and reward you with... bumper stickers... which can be used to mark your vehicle so that shop owners and garages know of your street familiarity and offer discounts and deals on upgradable parts or vehicles altogether.
Speaking of cars, because the game is set in Japan, there are Japanese import cars, new american muscle cars, basic famed streetracing cars, all offering a surprisingly deep level of customization.
Let's be truthful. Most movie-based video games end up being total tripe with little to no care given to suckerpunch a consumer into really buying a name in lieu of an actual game. Though the production team for Tokyo Drift seem to be giving their title a lot more attention then most movie-licensed games do, if they keep to their promises, it might be up there with some of the better streetracing games this year.