Sadly last year there was no Need For Speed For the first time in over a decade. It allowed the developer Ghost Games extra time to start from scratch and create a new racer.
As with most NFS games its fan base is looking for fast cars, customization, top-end speed and mayhem on the highway, but does the new offering from Ghost Games deliver what fans have been asking for?
You take the role of a rookie rider whose goal is to win the respect of real racing icons such as Ken Block. Each character represents a value within Need for Speed, whether it be style or speed.
Run fast and get Reputation points by Speed; destroys and flees, and you’ll Reputation from Outlaw; skids and will reward you for running in style; and a multiplier if you do everything at the same time appears to spice things up. In addition, according win competitions, you get money to buy what you’ve unlocked.
As with any racing game, even an arcade based one, the core driving mechanics will determine a lot of the games value and playability, and thankfully NFS offers up a solid driving model.
Need for Speed is a bit repetitive
The handling model is fine, if highly simplistic, and the drifting in particular is a lot of fun – even if the rubber banding means it’s often difficult to judge overtaking. The graphics, and we assume this is what the developer has been spending most of the last 24 months doing, are excellent. In screenshots, and carefully edited videos, they look amazing and genuinely photorealistic. In the game though it’s entirely irrelevant how pretty they are because there’s so little sense of speed to any of the cars. Even with the equally excellent sound design.
Maybe it’s the fact that the game is always set at night (sometimes it gets as far as pre-dawn but then immediately switches back to night again), and so there’s not actually that much traffic on the roads, but none of the cars ever seem to move nearly as fast their accelerometers are pretending.
The importance of understanding and properly utilizing the handbrake in regards to drifting is very important within the game. We mention this because if not approached and handled properly, your experience on the road could be drastically different than what the developers set out for. The understanding of feathering the handbrake mechanic, along with proper analog stick manipulation will allow you to corner the vehicles so much more effectively, ultimately saving you time and creating a much better driving experience. The beautiful and massive city that NFS provides will give you plenty of opportunities to hit long straightaways for you speed buffs, but also requires one to understand the mechanics of drifting and cornering correctly.
In terms of what else it takes from other Need For Speed games the police are easily ignored, and their attempts to interfere with an in-progress race rarely amounts to more than a minor irritation.
The graphics are stunning with a capital S. The roads are wet and displays real-time reflections, wind stirred the foliage and the draw distance is enough for the appearance of objects always pass unnoticed. Need for Speed runs at 30 frames per second and although I thought notice subtle frame rate drops from time to time, this was not a real factor in the experience. The only complaint with the presentation was perhaps unrealistic physics of the vehicles that fit better with a degree of simulation arcade one.
The decision to make NFS an “always online” game seems a bit strange to me, as it seems totally unnecessary in regards to the bulk of the game. When in story mode there is literally zero input that an outside online user has in regards to what you are trying to accomplish. In fact, the only time I actually noticed other users around, is when I was trying accomplish a racing goal, and they would interfere with said goal. Although my console is always connected, I do take issue with the online requirement for one big reason. During my time with the game, I lost connection to the server on four separate occasions because of my internet connection issues thanks to my provider. Is this the fault of Ghost Games? Of course not, but when you require the user to be connected online all the time, issues like this will pop up, and you are basically held captive by the problem at hand.
Other than always being required to be online, NFS does provide a wide array of subtle offerings for the online fan. First and foremost, NFS allows the user to create or join a crew of up to eight members. Why is that important? Mostly because the amount of money and rep points you receive will significantly increase if you are racing online with other crew members. The game also offers up three daily challenges, ability to upload in-game screen captures (and receive likes), and of course you can always jump into someones game and participate in their world. The game also offers leader boards and updated stats for you journey through the course of the game.
The audio that is true to the tradition of Frostbite Engine, is a delight. The sound engine has power and choice, especially when you drive iconic vehicles as a Lamborghini or Porsche. Music, on the other hand, consists of a wide selection of electronic items that, subject to subjectivity, it seemed appropriate for a title like Need for Speed. And if you prefer to run with a theme of Arrolladora Banda Limon background, will be your choice. But the repertoire of songs house and drum & bass that comes by default is consistent with the concept, short of transcendent or memorable degrees.
At day’s end, Need for Speed is an entertaining game that definitely recovered much of its visual and structural identity, thanks to customization, but the desire to return the series to its roots, Ghost Games also became one simple experience, repetitive and less fun than it used to be.