The long-running, arcade-racing franchise, Need for Speed
, returns with another instalment in the shape of Need for Speed Rivals
. Is the game an arresting experience that sets your heart racing, or should you lock it up and throw away the key? Join us, as we go in pursuit of the answers.Need for Speed Rivals
is the natural successor to 2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
with a brand-new development team, Ghost Games, working in collaboration with Criterion on the new title. Rivals
borrows many of the principles that made Hot Pursuit
such a success, most-notably the dual-career campaign taking on the role of individuals on both sides of the law as a Racer and a Cop. Rivals
has a storyline of sorts that alludes to the rivalry that gradually builds to boiling point between the law enforcers and the law breakers in the fictional Redview County. The story does a good job of setting the scene as the local police struggle to gain control of a situation that is worsening as a result of the racers encouraging each other, via social media, to push the limits of themselves and their pursuers with increasingly dangerous tactics. Although the storyline serves as a backdrop to the tense, adrenaline-fueled action on the open roads, at no point does the cut-scene-style footage between 'chapters' disrupt the flow of the game’s main purpose as an arcade-racing experience.
The action begins with a quick run-through of the basics in the form of two separate tutorials; one as a Cop and the other as a Racer. The first tutorial shows how to start chasing down criminals as a law enforcement officer, using examples of the many gadgets that are available to help do so. Conversely, the Racer tutorial demonstrates techniques to out-run the cops, as well as fellow racers. The short lessons can be done in any order, but must be completed in order to move on to the main career. There is not much to worry about though, as the tutorials keep things very straightforward.
Once the main career begins, the menu system is simple. It is easy to establish how you are progressing through the multitude of events. The events make up the tasks that need to be completed as part of the Speedlists and Assignments that are set as a Racer and Cop respectively to progress through the game's story chapters. Alternatively, the menus give the option to choose from the available cars, purchase and apply performance upgrades, Pursuit Tech, and car liveries using the in-game currency known as SpeedPoints. Finally, the menus allow switching between the Racer and Cop portions of the career almost instantaneously.
There are over one hundred miles of open road, ranging from tarmac interstates to urban streets, to explore with a full weather system that brings equally varied conditions ranging from blazing sun all the way through to snow. The range of events allows the player to decide on how best to tackle the gameplay to suit their driving style rather than being frustrated by a predetermined route through the career. Each side of the law has its own selection of over twenty vehicles which are unlocked as progress is made through the career portions. These cars cater to all driving styles too, with the likes of Porsche, Audi, McLaren, and Ferrari amongst the manufacturers that appear. The latter returns to the Need for Speed
series after an absence that has lasted over a decade. The selection of Pursuit Tech (the gadgets that help to take down rival drivers) is also impressive, with options like support helicopters and roadblocks available remotely to assist Cops. Similarly, Racers can use EMPs and stun mines to their advantage.
The fast-paced gameplay is enjoyable as the tight controls, coupled with responsive cars, allow for accurate driving in chaotic circumstances to gain gold medals by beating the objectives set within the Speedlists and Assignments. The EasyDrive menu system, that was first introduced in Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
, makes another appearance in the franchise. This feature helps to provide continuity to the racing experience as restarting events, viewing Autolog recommendations, and setting GPS locations, can be actioned with a couple of clicks of the D-pad whilst still remaining on the open roads.
Normally, games similar to Rivals
have distinct single-player and multiplayer game modes. However, Ghost Games, which employs former DICE developers, has been very creative and innovative, fusing both aspects of the title together in the exclusive AllDrive system. AllDrive keeps up to six players within their own single-player campaign, whilst simultaneously allowing those players to challenge each other in races, or team up in co-op style play all within the same open-world map that they travel around alone. AllDrive really is the finest feature in Rivals
, and it may just set the benchmark for the social aspects of racing games in the future.
After the incredible development of AllDrive, it is disappointing to see that the achievement list in Rivals
lacks any hint of creativity whatsoever. The bulk of the 25 achievements (yes, you read that correctly!) are awarded for straightforward progression through the ranks of both the Racer and Cop careers, with another pop coming for getting a total of 100 gold medals in events. There are a number of other random achievements on the list too, but they are so unimaginative that they are not really worth a mention.
The tense, action-packed gameplay in Need for Speed Rivals
will really get the adrenaline pumping in the respective roles on both sides of the law. The varied events and plethora of cars and gadgets offer up challenging yet rewarding scenarios. Furthermore, the replayability is a major plus within the game as events can be redone several times using different cars to reach the maximum ranks which go on far beyond the main storyline chapters. On top of the huge numbers of available events, the development of the AllDrive system and the inclusion of the EasyDrive menus, brings a never-before-seen dimension to the interactivity within the game by allowing players to dictate how they play the events. Overall, Rivals
takes the best elements from its most recent predecessors and combines them with ground-breaking and well-implemented ideas to create an excellent end-product in the arcade-racing genre.
The reviewer spent 12 hours in total causing carnage as a Racer and laying down the law as a Cop while gaining 7 out of the 25 achievements. This review was based on the Xbox 360 copy of the game which was provided courtesy of the publisher.