If there’s anything the “Fast & Furious” franchise taught us, it’s that stealing cars is a fine way to make a living.
But if you’re not up for infiltrating criminal gangs and boosting BMWs, then robotics company Anki has the next best thing with its Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition (and as a bonus, it’ll fit on your living room floor).
Slot car racing isn’t new. In fact, Anki overdrive itself isn’t all that new either — the app-driven racing game first launched in 2013 at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. It got a refresh in 2015, with the original roll out mat getting updated to a completely modular set that you can configure into your own racetrack.
The new Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition does exactly what it says on the tin. The modular racetrack is back, as well as the smart line-driving robot cars. But while the tech is fairly similar under the hood, the body has a whole new fit out: new cars, a new app and cool in-game features that call back to “The Fate of the Furious.”
Under the hood
Overdrive is a slot car game for the iPhone generation. Rather than following set tracks, the robotic cars use infrared to follow lines printed beneath the surface of the race mat. The cars follow the lines to map the track before the race, and then follow the same lines during race mode to stay in their lane.
Players use the iPhone or Android app to control acceleration and “steer” their car, though thanks to the infrared tech, this is more about switching lanes rather than steering around the course.
Winning races (either against other players or in-game AI) earns you in-game currency, which can be used to unlock special accessories, weapons and playable characters.
It’s a lot of fun, and the basics are simple enough to master even for the nongamers in your crew (believe it or not, we have some of those in the CNET offices). But for fans of the Fast franchise, there are a bunch of new features in this game that will get you revved up.
A new paint job
While the previous version of Anki Overdrive was controlled via the Android or iOS app, the new app has had a furious upgrade, meaning you can drive as Dom, Letty, Hobbs or Tej. Beyond the character art you see on screen, you’ll also get lines from the movie through your phone as you play, so get ready for some A-Grade dialogue.
Each of the cars is built same under the hood — the same infrared camera and line-following robot — but the new Fast & Furious cars have also had a new lick of paint. You can drive Dom’s Ice Charger and Hobbs’ MXT, and unlock special weapons specific to the film.
And because car-hacking is the new car-jacking, there’s a dedicated panel on the new Anki track that lets you “hack” your competitors’ cars when you drive over it. That said, with the way we were crashing into each other on the CNET office floor, we didn’t really need help to make things more hectic.
- Starter set includes 10 modular, magnetic track pieces
- Includes two “Fast & Furious” cars
- Expandable up to 64 track pieces (additional pieces $9.99, £9.99 and four cars
- Controlled through iOS or Android app
- Five race modes
- Four “Fast & Furious” driver profiles
- In-game currency unlocks new weapons and features (no microtransactions)
- Cars run for approximately 25 minutes
- Recharging bay (included) recharges in roughly eight minutes
Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition is available for preorder now in the US, UK and Australia for $170, £170 and AU$300 respectively. Additional cars are available for $49.99 (£49.99, AU$89.99), Supertrucks that unlock new abilities are available for $59.99 (£59.99, AU$99.99) and additional track pieces are $9.99 (£9.99, AU$37.99).
The set goes on sale internationally on September 23, and in Australia on September 29.
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