Need for Speed Preview
Need for Speed is back! After taking a year off in 2014 – the first year we didn’t see a new franchise entry in over a decade – the iconic IP will make an appearance this fall. Developer Ghost Games (Need for Speed: Rivals) plans to deliver a rebooted installment for the holiday season. Publisher Electronic Arts is calling this project “the definitive Need for Speed experience” and during their E3 2015 press conference, they highlighted “Five Ways to Play.” The intriguing part about this new structure is that each of the five is based on a real-world automotive icon, and players must earn that icon’s respect. The idea is to work your way up and become the ultimate icon yourself!
The five facets of this new racing experience are as follows: Speed, which is about the fearless pushing the limits and never taking the pedal from the metal; Style, which focuses on your precision in control; Build, where you excel in the realm of mechanical and cosmetic alterations to your vehicle; Crew, which involves riding with friends and putting your faith in other drivers, and lastly, Outlaw, which has you baiting and eluding the cops. The latter has often been a major part of any NFS title, so it’s nice to see it returning. These five aspects constitute a robust driving game that hits all the highlights and encourages the racer to succeed on every possible level. And yeah, there’s the social element as well.
Ghost Games is really pulling out all the stops for this one. Did you know they worked with Speedhunters to select the world’s most awesome cars, and they even consulted with experts on performance tuning, customized handling and authentic after-market brands? Perhaps the most challenging part of this new endeavor is to combine the depth of a simulator with the breakneck, accessible nature of an arcade racer. NFS has straddled the border in some ways but perhaps the newest iteration will be the perfect blend of realism and over-the-top high-speed insanity. In other words, it may have the customization and content depth of a sim, but it should retain its fun factor and acecessibility.
One of the new customizable options is the Grip vs. Drift slider that allows you to tailor the experience as you see fit. If you want a flashier, slipperier drive, go heavy on the Drift; if you want to practice precision driving, increase the Grip. If you want to try a variety of races, you don’t have to stick with the traditional point-to-point events, and the multiplayer component will be as robust as ever. Maybe the most attractive multiplayer feature is the awesome-sounding 8-Player Rep Attack, which rewards especially skilled drivers. Near misses and crowd-pleasing drifts will up your score and when competing against 7 other racers, you have to assume the action will be pretty intense. So, single-player and multiplayer will be loaded with diverse content that will keep the car lover coming back for more.
In regards to the overall structure, the game has been called a “nocturnal open-world racer.” You may have noticed from the early footage that everything seems to take place at night ala Midnight Club. Well, that’s true, and it gives the game that rebellious, almost mysterious vibe; i.e., who am I racing? Where might the cops be lurking? How brave can I really be hurtling down the road in the dark? Pulling on “authentic urban car culture,” Ghost Games apparently wants to give us that “Fast and the Furious” vibe. One has to wonder what other sorts of events we can anticipate, and if the darkened atmosphere will take its toll on visibility. But based on the media offered thus far, we probably shouldn’t worry too much about technical accomplishment and stability. These games are usually rock solid.
Lastly, it’s true that you’ll need an Internet connection to play, which has rubbed some gamers the wrong way. Admittedly, such a forced prerequisite is a little annoying but at the same time, EA doesn’t really care. So many people play with an online connection, anyway, and this restriction is unlikely to hinder the game’s sales potential. All in all, Need for Speed appears to be the game series fans have been pining for; if the mechanics are fine-tuned, it’s gonna be a blast. Look for this anticipated reboot on November 3 when it will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The days of games being made for the older consoles as well as the new? They’re almost behind us.
7/1/2015 Ben Dutka