Developer: Black Box
Publisher: Electronic Arts
With a lineage containing some great racing games, the Need For Speed franchise has now released their latest installment, entitled Need For Speed: The Run. With a grand storyline and the Frostbite 2 engine, Need For Speed: The Run is set to take racing action and mix it with an engaging narrative. So does Need for Speed: The Run deliver, or will it crash and burn? Keep an eye on the rear view mirror for cops, here’s the review.
Meh, you’ll never take me alive, copper!!!
Traditional racing games usually don’t have a story behind them. It’s just unlocking other cars and tracks by winning a series of races. In Need For Speed: The Run, you play as Jack, a man wanted by an unsavory group of felons who he has wronged in some way. After foiling their plan to kill him, he enters a cross-country race from San Francisco to New York. There are some checkpoints along the way in major cities such as Las Vegas and Chicago, and thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine, every stage looks amazing. One major drawback to the story is that it takes a back seat to the gameplay itself, which is fine ordinarily. However, with all the press about the story, we were expecting more than backgrounds for the characters given through loading screens. The foot-race sequences don’t happen often and are quick-time-events rather than races. This doesn’t give the player the interactive experience of getting away from the cops to get to your car, as an actual race would.
Still, let’s be honest, it’s a racing game, and the story isn’t always the strongest part of this kind of game anyway. In Need For Speed: The Run, over 60 cars are available to race across the country. Some of these cars are unlocked through races or are available to be purchased online. However, cars can only be exchanged at gas stations. Still, the game makes choosing what kind of car to drive easy by listing how well it handles. Beginners should start with the safer, easier-to-handle cars, while veterans can take their chances with the harder-to-handle super cars.
From Yosemite National Park to the Rocky Mountains to the Vegas strip, the graphics make it look like the developers gave extra care to the levels. As mentioned before, the Frostbite 2 engine really enhances the look of both the cars and the environments. Cities, deserts, highways, and even the occupied streets, have a great look and give the feeling of actually being out on the open roads. The overall presentation of the game is strong. With cars scratching their paint, smashing their bodies, and windows breaking in, the level of detail in this game is amazing. If you think you can keep your car in pristine condition, think again.
Every car handles differently to all the other cars, but surprisingly the controls work well. As mentioned before, speed is sacrificed for handling and vice-versa. While racing across the country, there are a few different modes you will be thrown into. Survival mode, in which you get from point A to point B without wrecking the car. Battle Mode, where you race against a handful of opponents in a given time. Checkpoint races, where it’s the player against the clock. And finally, the traditional race, where you must finish first in order to advance. You’ll be involved in the same kind of race throughout the cross-country races, and this gets pretty repetitive because it always feels like a traditional race rather than specialty events.
Radio plays that forgotten song…Brenda Lee’s comin’ on strong
With a rock-and-roll soundtrack to motivate more aggressive drivers, sirens will give a little extra motivation to hit the gas and boost while they call for roadblocks and backup. You’ll have some advanced warning before you can hear those sirens first-hand, because Jack has a police scanner. In addition to the sirens, the crashes sound visceral. Occasionally, during more traffic-heavy areas, the other cars will honk at you for cutting them off and driving recklessly, which is always fun to do. Overall, between the look and sound of the game, Need For Speed: The Run, gives players the feeling of being in a cross-country race. With cars such as the Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake to choose from, it’s hard not to get excited.
Sometimes you just gotta race.
Overall, Need For Speed: The Run is a decent game. It’s not the best racing game on the market, but it’s not terrible either. The characters could have been left out, and they could have just left the story as the cross-country race from San Francisco to New York City, we would have been fine with that. The foot-race sequences are thankfully not a large part of the game, being few and far between. The Auto-Log feature allows you to keep track of your times in the races, but you can’t go back to try and improve upon your best attempts or try to reclaim the best time without starting the campaign over. Also, during the campaign the A.I. does tend to travel faster when behind you. Thankfully, this also applies to your car, which allows you to get back in the race.
Despite its shortcomings, Need For Speed: The Run is at its core a pure racing game with great cars, beautiful environments, and fast-paced car chases. As limited as it is, racing fans will love the selection of cars used for the game. Quality over quantity, right? Need For Speed fans should probably hold off a little while before paying the full price on this one, or at least rent it to try it out, while newcomers to the franchise will feel comfortable with what this installment offers. Hopefully this game can convince them to try out the other games in the franchise. Don’t get too down about this game, but try it out for the environments, cars, and the classic Need For Speed police chases.
Final Verdict: Need For Speed: The Run gets 7 busted-up cop cars out of 10.
[xrr rating=7/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Need for Speed: The Run by Electronic Arts.