Need For Speed as developed by Ghost Games is a gorgeous looking game with a solid car selection all of which can be customized to handle how you want, even if the races that revolve around this comes off as uninspired. Thankfully the actual racing is fun so long as you can deal with the rubber-banding AI. With a two years for development time, Need For Speed is a fistbump-ridden reboot that recalls more Need For Speed Underground than the original game that kicked off the series.
After a short gameplay video (which was the same video from EA’s Press Conference, they showed off the game. And I can confirm that what was seen in the video is exactly how the game looks. It is absolutely stunning. Need For Speed is back, which is a reboot for the series that covers the series’ expansive history, hoping to do something for every kind of player.
Criterion’s second outing as a developer of a Need For Speed title, is an interesting one. This is a reboot of the 2005 game, Most Wanted – that in it of itself is a strange proposition. It turns out that this game is mostly what I wanted, not exactly what I wanted most.
– Scott Ellison
Our Score: 2 / 5 – Mediocre
EA’s venerable racing series, Need For Speed has now reached its 18th game in the franchise. Titled “The Run”, the game revolves around Jack – who ends up getting in trouble with the mob and must pay to save his life. In order to do so, he must travel 3,000 miles from San Francisco to New York to win this race across America and be #1 amongst 199 other drivers for a $25 million dollar cash purse.
By that description, you’ll realize there’s a bit more story than ever told in prior Need For Speed games. And unfortunately, that’s where it begins to fall apart, right away. At no point did I ever feel connected to Jack. He’s a rebellious anti-hero who, without any detail given to us – fails to give us any reason to attach ourselves to this character and feel compelled to win. It would be best if you picked a character or never saw your own face to help cement that maybe you are the one trying to save your own life.
Soon enough, you’re able to pick from a small group of cars and go full throttle towards the starting point in San Francisco and luckily that’s where The Run picks up. There are ten Stages to The Run, each Stage has about four to seven events. Almost immediately the fuzz are on the tail of all who are participating in the race. The best part is that each time you run into the cops, they’re not all after YOU, you’ll see them bumping and harassing other drivers. It’s easy to lose them if you get them on your tail, but they put up a good fight as they put up vehicle roadblocks and will try to P.I.T. you every chance they get.
While racing, nearly everything you do while advancing in The Run earns you XP to level up your driver; whether it be jumps, reaching top speed, and clean or dirty overtakes. Unfortunately it’s completely arbitrary and holds no value other than unlocking upgrades for your driver. Something as simple as nitrous doesn’t appear until Level 4. It’s all an artificial hold back that doesn’t make much sense. Levelling up is shared between Singleplayer and Multiplayer.
Autolog returns and will pull from your friends list on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Origin on PC. From there you’ll be able to compare your times for each Stage or for the full Run and set competitive times to beat – the best part being that no two players have to be on at the same time to do so, it creates and “offline challenge system”. Now, if you’re looking to trade some paint, you do have the option to play online. Though prepare to be restricted as there’s only Playlists to choose from, as there’s little to no customization.
Each Stage of The Run takes you through a unique part of the United States that doesn’t feel like you’re treading the same ground. Need For Speed The Run utilizes DICE’s new Frostbite 2 engine that debuted with the release of Battlefield 3. It looks and plays spectacularly. It runs at a solid 30fps on all platforms. Each car has immense detail and looks fantastic with the background vistas having immense depth, looking unlike any game before it. All tracks are point-to-point, as to be expected.
Within the point-to-point tracks, various types of races exist: pure racing, making up time, battling rivals, and escaping cops or the mob. Changing cars can only be done within a race, by visiting gas stations. The race freezes and you pick your new car and then pick up where you left off. Specific points of the game you’ll be forced out of your car and into the seat of a new car because the one you were driving has fallen apart. In-between car segments, Jack will be on foot and you’ll have to go through a series of quicktime events to get him to the next section to get back to the driving. There’s a small handful of these sections that it’s rarely a bother, but it maintains the game’s momentum and excitement.
Every race is exciting and demands precision in order to succeed. There’s absolutely no down time to the game which is to it’s benefit. When I finished The Run, my total time was: 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 33 seconds. Now bear in mind, I spent closer to 4 or 5 hours playing the game. That time does not include loading races, rewinding/replaying events, and cutscenes. After completing each Stage of The Run, you unlock “Challenge Series” levels that are specific challenges to earn Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals – and they’re quite difficult.
The Run may seem off-putting at first, but it offers a great racing experience that never lets off the gas pedal. It’s a bit on the short side, but there’s a lot of replability and multiplayer, autolog, and challenge series to extend the gameplay. You should try The Run when the price is right – play it any sooner and you’ll feel you’ve been walked on.
Race for your life in the NEED FOR SPEED™ THE RUN demo. In the Desert Hills of Nevada you find yourself at the heart of the pack. Battle the unforgiving desert heat and technically demanding terrain as you use all your skills to fight your way to the front in the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni. Once past the desert, you face treacherous Independence Pass. The clock is ticking, a mountain is crumbling in front of you and a rival is one step ahead. Refer a friend and race in the new Porsche 911 Carrera S.
– Darren Ward
Our Score: 4 / 5 – Awesome
Shift 2 (presented by Need For Speed) has been a game which became a cut above the rest. It’s fully featured tuning system, the realistic physics and the exciting detail brought to you within the cockpit.
I haven’t been much of a simulation type racer, however Shift 2 gives a greater respect towards the simulation style gameplay. There is no comparison of the speed, handling, and feel between Shift 2 and its competitors which have been trying to keep the top spot in the simulation game field for years.
You start off in Shift 2 by doing a race to see what settings the game chooses for you, depending on your driving skills, whether or not you need ABS on, Traction control, essentially anything which may or may not help you progress smoothly through the game. Though the game may suggest the settings, by no means do you have to use them, you can adjust the settings at any time.
Once you get into the actual career mode, you are given a car, and you complete your races, gaining experience points, which help you level up. As you increase your levels, you also gain access to more races and game modes, including drifting, GT circuits, and more. The Speedhunters DLC pack gives you access to Drag Racing and the Standing mile, which of course are my two favorite game modes.
The visual customization of the cars in Shift 2 is quite similar to that in the original Shift title. Everything is simple, and there is no cost. You are limited, however, to the access in which you gain new customization options by the driver level you are currently on. Mostly though, all the good paint types are available early.
The performance customization takes on a whole new meaning in Shift 2, not only can you choose different upgrade parts for each car, you also have the ability to build it up to a ‘Works conversion’ package, which is a true racing setup. (Not usable in conjunction with Drag Racing upgrades though). You have multiple upgrades in each performance area of the game, from engine and suspension to aerodynamics and weight reduction. All tunable.
Once I had started playing on the standing mile and drag racing game modes, I found that the live tuning within the game was so much better than that of previous games. Each individual tweak can be noticed immediately and the load times to restart a race is very short. You can tune a car several times over within a couple minutes.
I managed to tune a car from 403km/h to 411km/h in only a few small tweaks, but found that the handling was so twitchy that even the slightest variation in your controller steering will spin the car out of control. Once you get the hang of tweaking your cars, you find what areas work better than others while you adjust for each mode.
The best part of the tuning setup, is that you can save to one specific track, or all tracks that you want, which makes it easier to have multiple setups on your car for all the different styles of tracks and racing modes that you are in.
I haven’t played the multi-player side of Shift 2, however, it is as much fun as a simulation racer can be with a bunch of friends. Best option though, have private races as there will be times where you are racing against some gamers who may simply choose to wreck rather than race.