International criminal Owen Shaw barrels down the highway in a huge tank, speeding off with a top secret computer chip. The military's lagging behind (or paid off), and somehow, like always, it's up to you and your crew to stop him. You punch the gas and speed up to the tank when you hear a thud on the roof of your American muscle car. One of Shaw's thugs just leapt on top of your car and is trying to tear it apart! You shake him off, and another enemy SUV speeds up behind you. You slam on the brakes, sending that SUV crashing into you and flipping over directly onto the tank. That'll slow Shaw down for a bit, but do you have enough guts, skill, and tricks up your sleeve to bring this hulking tank to a stop? That's the task set to you in Fast & Furious: Highway Heist, by Funko Games.
Fast & Furious: Highway Heist is a cooperative action game for two to four players, set in the world of the Fast & Furious film franchise. In it, players take on the roll of one of the main protagonists in the films (Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman, Han, or Tej) and pair them with one of four different types of cars (including American Muscle and Import Racer models) to take on one of three scenarios. Each scenario offers a different challenge (which I'll elaborate on more in a moment), but the same core set of rules applies regardless of scenario.
On a player's turn, they can take up to two actions before rolling the enemy die. These actions include (but are not limited to) driving around the board, ramming an enemy vehicle, shaking enemies off the roof of your car, and leaping from your car onto another vehicle. Special Stunt cards will populate the board offering up opportunities to do daring maneuvers while also serving as a countdown clock. If all the Stunt cards are used up and you haven't achieved your goal, you lose! Driving requires no testing of your skill, but other actions ask you to roll dice with pips on them in an attempt to succeed. Fail your roll and you waste your action.
The three scenarios are vastly different from one another, and each recall exciting moments from the films. The scenario recommended as the starter scenario is "Tank Assault," where the goal is to deal damage to a speeding tank by destroying enemy SUVs and letting them crash into the tank. "Semi Heist" requires our heroes to leap onto the top of a Semi truck, open the back, and toss valuable cargo (stolen DVD players?) to another player driving behind them (while avoiding shotgun blasts from the driver). And the third and most complicated scenario, "Chopper Takedown," charges you with stopping Deckard Shaw in both his reinforced sports car and a helicopter firing missiles at your crew. While I found the initial "Tank Assault" scenario a bit on the easy side (though difficulty can be adjusted), the other two scenarios offered up plenty of twists, and many "how are we gonna get out of this mess" moments.
The game board itself represents the highway rushing past beneath you. That's because, in Fast & Furious: Highway Heist, it's assumed that you're always moving a breakneck speed. If you move forward on the board, you're just accelerating more. If you move backward, you've slowed down slightly. It's a simple flavorful idea, but it really does wonders cementing the thought that you're doing what you should be doing in a Fast & Furious game: driving really damn fast.
After each player takes their turn, an enemy die is rolled which determines what actions the game takes against you. Maybe thugs leap onto your car and start damaging it. Or maybe an enemy uses its special card which adds SUVs to the board. Much like in the films, our heroes are impervious to physical damage... but their cars aren't. If your car gets destroyed, you're thrown from it, and you have to scramble to hijack an enemy SUV, wasting valuable time.
The components are well-made if not flashy, and the artwork on the boards does an incredible job of artfully abstracting the faces of the Fast & Furious protagonists we know and love. Along with easy storage (everything has its own special place in the box) and a clear and concise rulebook, the game is a well-packaged, well-presented thrill ride.
The Bottom Line
I'll be the first to admit it: I'm a diehard Fast & Furious fan. I love the films more than almost any other action film, and I return to certain ones (especially Fast Five and Furious 7) like a sort of high-octane comfort blanket. So for this game to hit right for a hyper-fan like me, it would have to really be doing something special. Let me say this in no uncertain terms — it hit right, it's really doing something special. From the speeding highway depicted on the board to the special abilities of each of the characters, this is much more than an IP sticker slap. This game cares about its source material, and it miraculously managed to translate a movie about cars going very fast into a board game where you move plastic pieces around a slab of cardboard. I feel lost in the action. I feel swept up in the moment-to-moment drama. If you're a fan of the Fast franchise, you can't pass this game up. And even for the uninitiated, it's a game that deserves your attention for its innovative cooperative gameplay and flow.
Get This Game If...
- You're a Fast & Furious fan
- You're interested in a fast-paced cooperative game
- You're family
Avoid This Game If...
- You're looking for a competitive experience
- You want a longer game (each game we played lasted around 30 to 45 minutes)
The copy of Fast & Furious: Highway Heist used for this review was provided by Funko Games.