When Fast & Furious Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R released in November 2021, we were happy to say that it was way more polished and refined than we expected. If it had a flaw, it was the lack of stuff to do, with only four-and-a-half cups to complete, and five different racers to pick from in its Spy Tournament mode. It’s a prime contender, then, for a DLC pack: something that Outright Games have been trialing with My Friend Peppa Pig and PJ Masks Heroes of the Night.
For £4.99, you get two new racers, six cars (four of which are usable in the Grand Prix mode), four tracks and a Grand Prix that collects the tracks together into a cup to complete.
You might recognise the two new racers, Matsuo and Miss Nowhere. Matsuo is the game’s ‘big-bad’, the boss you may have defeated at the end of the Spy Tournaments, while Miss Nowhere is your mission-giver and mentor, the leader of the Spy Racers. Neither of them are playable in the main Spy Tournament mode – presumably because it wouldn’t make any sense from a story perspective – but it’s a shame for them to be locked solely to the Multiplayer and Quick Race modes. The Spy Tournaments could absolutely have done with a bit more choice in its drivers.
The cars of Matsuo and Miss Nowhere are on the similar side, rocking slick, black coupes. It fits their character but, again, feels like a cheapening of the deal. Miss Nowhere’s special ability is almost identical to Tony Toretto’s: it’s a boost and shield, with the shield being placed to the front rather than back, presumably to shovel mines out of the way. Matsuo’s is an odd one: it’s a Laser Cannon, but it sounds far better than it looks. It’s a pathetic little light show that looks more like lens flare than a weapon, but at least does some chunky damage.
The other four cars unlocked with Fast & Furious Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R: Arctic Challenge ARE playable in the Spy Tournaments, but it’s questionable whether you’d bother. They are ‘icy’ themed versions of the original cars, and they neither look different enough – they all share the same silhouettes as the cars they are based on – nor do they change the stats or special attacks. We thought they were uglier than the originals and left them well alone.
But the decision-maker for many purchasers is going to be the four new tracks: Snow Stadium, Forest Hazard, On Thin Ice and Undisclosed Heights. Four tracks for £4.99 is a pretty sweet deal, adding 25% more tracks to the admittedly thin roster.
The tracks don’t come with a new mission or story cutscene: these are all standalone and separate from the game’s storyline. They are also arctic themed, as you’d expect from the title, and therein lies the problem. All four of Arctic Challenge’s tracks feel incredibly similar, washed out in blacks, whites and greys, with no colour to speak of. The level design doesn’t help the matter: there are few distinguishing features on the tracks, with Snow Stadium the only one able to throw it’s hand up and say “hey, we have a spiral!”. We would find it difficult to name you a single landmark in any of the other tracks. Undisclosed Heights has a jump in it, we suppose.
The swathes of ice and lack of memorable moments makes the tracks extremely vanilla. When the rest of Fast & Furious Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R’s tracks do a sterling job of mixing things up with each track, Arctic Challenge comes in and dilutes the package. Suddenly, four near-identical tracks are added to track playlists, and pressing ‘Random’ doesn’t feel as enticing as before.
There are no additions to the Yuka store, no new weapons, and no extensions to the game’s story. But the amount of content is not the issue in Fast & Furious Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R: Arctic Challenge: it’s the cut corners. What it offers in the form of new cars and new tracks just isn’t enticing, as the tracks bring the overall standard down, and the new racers are either regurgitated from the main game, or have a slight air of ‘will this do?’.
If you are desperate for a reason to bring you and your family back to Fast & Furious Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R, then Arctic Challenge might – just – be enough. If you want something new and substantial for your £4.99, you might want to trigger the nitro and drift past.
You can buy Fast & Furious Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R: Arctic Challenge from the Xbox Store