“…Need for Speed does a lot right, but a lack of care and attention has gone into the story…”
2015’s reboot of classic street racing title Need for Speed is now upon us. With no game since the awesome Underground 2 quite seeing as much success as when the series was in its prime, fans have longed for more for a while now. Several new twists on the game have as yet been unsuccessful in emulating the adrenaline and fun factor of the high point in its lifetime. Could this new edition be the one that changes that? I played to find out.
The first thing that stands out in this game is that it is dark. The use of a night time setting and artificial lighting does make you reminisce of the Underground 2 days gone by, but this game looks much sharper and has certainly been given a glossy finish. Then you realise just how “street” the developers have attempted to make it. People start talking and making actions and it behind to feel a bit like a cheap rip off of the early Fast and Furious films. You know the ones, when it was still about street racing? Anyway, it is over the top, and it cheapens the entire atmosphere of the game to come.
Before we get to the part about driving, there is something else that is off-putting about this game from the offset too, and that is your character. The cinematic parts of the game are played out from a first person perspective, and you play the part of an unnamed driver. It is curious then that you are forced to play a male, and frustrating how sexist the context of the game is as a result. When my girlfriend played the game, it very much bothered her, and she is by no means a strong feminist or even easily offended by these things. It does seem in some ways like half of the potential audience of the game has been entirely overlooked, and this really is a very big mistake to make.
Ignoring the corny story and borderline-sexist attitude of the game, the driving itself is actually a great experience. Freedom to customise your ride using real world cars and genuine upgrades allows you to modify your driving experience to suit you. It also means you can optimise it for each individual challenge you will face. You can feel every change you make acting upon the car after you make it, and gameplay is influenced strongly as a result of how you choose to drive. All of this adds credibility to the street racing setting, and the ability to make aesthetic changes means that you can make the experience and the vehicles in your garage your own.
Behind the wheel you are in full control of the action. You don’t have to make every single gear change, but where you drive on the road and what you do with your car is up to you. The game does not try to drive for you or tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. At the same time, driving is easy. That isn’t to say every challenge is a piece of cake, and in fact I finished one drifting course with just 0.05 seconds to spare! What I mean by easy is that driving doesn’t feel like a chore in this game, and it doesn’t lead to the inevitable frustration that a number of others do.
There is a good variety of different challenges for you to test your flashy automobiles with in Need for Speed, which is where it really pulls through. You can choose from races, time trials, drifting challenges, accumulating high bounties and many more options to enjoy and work your way through the game with. There is even a Burnout style system for destroying cars and pulling off skill moves, similar to that in Need for Speed Rivals, which helps bolster the action. Many challenges come down to the wire too, with a challenging AI and just enough time provided for you to get round them. The game allows for a couple of minor errors along the way, but you have to be the best to win in this game, which also helps to push its authentic street style.
In all, Need for Speed does a lot right, but a lack of care and attention has gone into the story which should give the game context. The technical side of things and the actual gameplay, alongside the way the game looks, are very good indeed. In fact, they are much better than we have seen from the series in a long time now. Even the choices in cars pay attention to street racing culture and preferences, with Mustangs, Skylines and some Subaru racing beasts being among the options. With the right DLC to provide a better, more thought out story to the game, Need for Speed could easily be among the best games in the franchise and make a mark on the racing game market. As it stands, the game is fun to play, but what it lacks prevents it from being the market leader it once was.
- The game looks fantastically sharp and makes great use of artificial lighting in its dark setting.
- A variety of true street racing vehicles combined with a vast, accurate array of modifications add credibility to street racing the theme of the game.
- Easy to get to grips with and take full control of the well developed and largely player-controlled driving action.
- Plenty of challenges which often see things come down to the very last second.
- Great variety in challenge types keeps the game interesting throughout, as does its noteworthy AI competition.
- An authentic street-racing experience in terms of technical content.
- The game is overly-enthusiastic when trying to put across its “street” attitude, cheapening the overall experience.
- A lack of care and attention has gone into creating a fully immersive story.
- The game has an awkward air of sexism about it if you are a female playing through the male-led story.
- Always online means that sometimes when you pause, your car keeps going into a wall…
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.