This Review is dedicated to the memory of both Paul Walker and Roger Rodas.
Disclaimer: All actions that appear in the game should not be imitated in real life. Drive safely and responsibly on the roads. Save the racing for the track and if you feel the need for speed, just play Rivals.
Need for Speed The Rivals is the latest installment in the ever growing and ever-popular racing franchise. This latest incarnation makes speeds its way in as the twentieth installment into the long running Need For Speed series. The developers Ghost Games/UK and Criterion games and publishers EA give a new fresh racing experience that will keep your pulse pounding every step of the way.
Now here I am, my damage is critical. I’ve been racing for the past 2 hours and my winning streak just keeps on going up, but no. The cops have found me and the chase begins. The first roadblock is evaded, then the second and the third, but my heat level is now rising. A helicopter has been added to the pursuit, hot on my tail and tracking my every move. Where do I go? Do I take the high way and let my cars speed help me escape, or do I take to the forest routes and back roads using my skill maneuvering the car, showing its handling capabilities to evade them. The lights flash behind me as my car is rammed either side by police. “Damage Critical” The words flash on the screen and this is the deciding moment. Evade the police spikes. Do I carry on the chase or do I head to the nearest safe house. Everything I’ve earned up till now rests on this decision.
Yes Need for Speed rivals really gives applause to the whole dynamic of Cop v. Racer ideal. Just like with 2010s entry of Hot Pursuit the game allows you to step into the roles of both the Cops and the Racers, giving you an in depth beautiful world of RedView County. Giving you the choice of either enforcing the law or to upend it. Now both modes are as equally engaging. As a cop don’t expect the driver to pull over for you as soon as you start up your lights and siren. No. You will have to use a combination of using your cars speed and handling to chase them. To help you bring them down and to make an arrest, you have an array of gadgets available to you. These include spike strips, shock rams and EMP’s. If all else fails ramming the racer at full speed will cause major damage and eventually will bring them down.
As a racer your progression is tracked through series of events you must partake in. Time trails, Head to heads, evading the police, a simple race or simply going through a speed camera at high speed all add up and give you player speed points progressing you foreword and ranking you up. Each time you rank up makes a new car available to you and you can use your points to modify and customize the car to your liking. When it comes to evading the police as a racer you have plenty of tricks up your sleeve to combat the oncoming chase, including shockwaves that damage and repel nearby vehicles and Jammers that prevent the cops or your fellow racers from using their own weapons against you. This unique technology is helpful at times, but it comes down to you as a racer to use and master your speed and control to weave your way through traffic, drift around corners and through roadblocks and use what little Nitrous Oxide you have to evade successfully from the police. With a lot going on all at once, sometimes it comes down to your pure instinct to get you through, but once you reach and enter the zone Need for speed becomes that perfect blend of arcade open world racing that you want.
An interesting feature the game invites you to take part in is by downloading the Need for speed Network app onto you mobile device or tablet. Here it gives you a overhead view of the RedView map, showing you all the events, your player location and rivals locations. You can enter over watch mode where a friend can help you by re filling your Nitrous, repairing your car and even refilling your tech all via the app. The Network app feature really adds a great new experience to the game and gives an exciting glimpse into the future of the next gen gaming via the companion app modes that will be displayed via the Xbox One Smart glass app.
Now this is all well and good, it really makes its way as a fun racing game that is the first need for speed to be on the next gen consoles. However there is one vital flaw that brings the experience and fun away from that immersion. This is due to the multiplayer. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than teaming up with your friends as police and taking out racers. It’s fun and enjoyable. When you want to play by yourself it becomes a pain. This is down to the game being always online. From the moment you hit the start button at the main menu you are sat for a few minutes waiting as it searches for a game. Once you are in the problems begin. You could be in the middle of a race, on your final lap and just attained first position. Then all of a sudden another player online in the game with you playing as a cop deliberately rams into you trying to take you down and forces you into last place. This happened on a number of occasions during the many play through. Another issue is you could be parked stationary while checking your phone, not causing any in game trouble, and all of a sudden a chase has started and you are wanted. The fun fact is that you can let a police chase last for as long as you want, but once it’s finished you just want to roam around freely. I was finding myself in constant police chases. This comes down to other players as cops coming after you. The final issue I want to point out is a network issue. You could be playing in the middle of your game by yourself and the host decides to leave forcing you to wait as the game finds a new host, but on many occasions kicks you out of the game.
Now in conclusion of the online features, I’m not saying multiplayer is bad. It’s fun with a group of friends, but when your wanting to find that single player experience of past Need for Speed games like Most wanted, Carbon and Undercover, it just doesn’t have it and its sad to see that, the always online feature really lowers the fun and draws you away from the immersion. However as a racing game by itself Need for speed rivals offers a new and fresh look to the series. Its gorgeous graphics shine well on the current gen consoles, but are portrayed to their best ability on the Next gen platforms. Its attention to detail in its rich open world makes you want to spend hours and explore. And most of all the entire Cop V. Racer and making both playable to you makes this game fun. However with the issues caused by having it always online pulls it away from being the best need for speed in the franchise. For this I would award the game 3 out of 5. Worth a try and if you are a veteran need for speed fan then by all means play it, but because of these issues it comes in just shy of that top spot.
Need for Speed Rivals is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.