From speed-bombing down the desert , to sky-rocketing a ramp to beat your friend’s distance, Need for Speed Rivals was one of the first games that to take advantage of the new-gen consoles’ capabilities when it released alongside the PS4 and Xbox One last year. This sensation of speed feeling along with the crisp new graphics of the Xbox One and PS4 reminds me of the ‘Burnout’ feel of destruction and quick framework. After checking out the game following its’ recent ‘Complete Edition’ re-release, it still holds up as a good game but, it does have several elements lacking that would have enhanced its gameplay and re-energize the fun factor.
The game for starters has some taken the pursuit adrenaline from ‘Hot Pursuit (2010)’ and the graphical features and social dynamics from ‘Most Wanted (2012)’. Any NFS enthusiast would be able to tell the physics and gameplay have been blended together, I guess putting the good parts of both as much they could. Like Hot Pursuit, you can choose between starting as a Racer or a Cop and each have their own story to follow. The function is to watch an episode cutscene and then partake in several objectives before you can advance to the next chapter. These objectives would range between: Win 3 interceptor pursuits, Slam 4 racers and/or Drift total 2000 feet. Unfortunately what the game gains in detail it lacks in size seeing as how the map is smaller then either of the previous titles. The story itself is also rather shallow, splicing some angled gameplay with a Cop/Racer voiceover pumping some ‘narrative’ to the player. This seems a little unnecessary as the story seems more of an afterthought.
The gameplay is fresh and beautiful. Displaying weather changes with good accuracy with cars that feel responsive. This is when the new-gen consoles will be able to truly shine, details of the surroundings and the car designs are very finely made. When chased you earn skill-points for reckless driving that is multiplied depending on the cop’s difficulty. The points total are banked only when you escape the police and points will be lost if you are wrecked/busted. Sound?…hmm…well the sound effects are detailed and there is believable satisfaction in smashing through a fence or casually head-on into a car. However as expected, the music is rather ‘copy-pasted’ material. Similar recycled riffs of music tracks that blare out bland repetitive music so if you have any tracks on your hard drive that may help. The multiplayer in the game is digging new roots. As long as you are connected to your platform’s online service, you will be placed in a lobby with other racer/cop players in real time. You can join on a pursuit and either hinder or help the racer…whether you want to or not, so move well to the side if you don’t want to be involved in a chase. However this all goes well only if the host’s connection is good, or else the cars on the road behave like they are on acid. Also cars have a habit of appearing right in front of you whether you are playing online or offline. Not helpful when you are hurdling down the freeway at 250+mph. Worse of all though, the AI has weird moments when out of nowhere would crash unnecessarily (usually cops) which defeats the enjoyment when getting chased.
Within the first few unlocks you will be already well into supercar territory and not too long hypercars, like Bugatti Veyrons and the Hennessey Venom. Customizing has taken the backseat to this game…actually I correct myself: backseat to trunk. Being able to personalize your car has really diminished since the days of Underground gradually. You can only apply a few vinyl designs and change the colour but the aim is to spend your points on improving your car’s effectiveness in chases. With the Complete Edition including all of the previously released DLC for Rivals, you at least have a few more extra cop and racer cars such as the Koenigsegg Agera One, Lamborghini Miura Concept and several more which weren’t in the original base package, along with extra liverys to customise them with. The cops I will admit have a nice selection of cars depending on your approach to apprehending racers ranging from Patrol, Undercover and Enforcer. Patrol being a decent all-rounder in offence and defense, Undercover has unmarked police cars that can catch racers off guard but little weaker and Enforcer sacrifices speed by making the car tougher and deal more damage.
I love Need for Speed. I’ve followed NFS since the classic Hot Pursuit 2 and I personally ADORE the idea of personal customization. A car that replicates what was in your imagination or on google images is greatly satisfying, even watching it on the pre-race sequences along others. But lately the notion of customizing has been steadily declining to improve the physics and network play. Although I feel its because the NFS franchises over the years have had the need to release a new game annually to make quick sales, like nearly every sport game out there. It makes sense seeing as how the success of 2010’s Hot Pursuit made a good profit to make 2011’s The Run. Even with the frostbite engine, the game didn’t do as well, so I feel these last few releases have been to make up similar profit margins to Hot Pursuit. Don’t get me wrong, I like the visuals and I would not complain if I were given a Ferrari to drive like a madman. But while I can see NFS dishing new ideas in their games, it would be nice if they can every once and while go to some of their old roots that made the game fun to play when I was a teenager.