Need For Speed is a mixed bag of great nostalgia and poor choices.
However, I can see and appreciate how developer Ghost Games have attempted to get back to their NFS Underground roots and this reboot seems to be a more solid installment in the franchise.
So what did they get right?
The game itself looks fantastic with great attention to detail on the lighting and reflections, as the pouring rain covers the road. Seriously, the lighting is so realistic I struggled in several rainy races as the reflections from the water impaired my vision, like it would in real life.
The cars are sexy and the upgrade options are pretty plentiful for most of the cars, but some seem to sport fewer options for customisation. The full list of cars is diverse enough to offer something for everyone, whether you want old school muscle, import or high class luxury. The cars also sound as good as they look and the soundtrack offers several tunes to race to.
This title also offers the option to choose the handling style of your car. You can choose a “grip” handling which gives you the classic NFS feel or a looser “drift” style handling.
There are 79 main events and races can be replayed in order to build up your bank account. While 79 sounds like a lot, the races tend to be pretty short, so it may not take long to beat them all. If you’re a player who loves to hunt down collectibles or if you get tired of replaying races, there are four types of collectibles scattered around the environment.
- Vista Spots are 30 landmarks located across the six districts in NFS’s Ventura Bay setting. Park at a Vista Spot and use your in-game phone to take a snapshot of your car against the background, which adds it to your collection.
- Donut Spots are 30 locations where you simply need to lay down some rubber and pull off a donut.
- Free Parts are hidden across Ventura Bay and located in 12 trucks. Once you’ve located one of the trucks, the random parts will be delivered to your garage.
- Car Challenges are offered by the 51 other racers in Ventura Bay. Go to the yellow icons on the mini map, pull up beside them, and challenge them to an event.
So where did the game fall short?
When you start the game, you will probably be stunned by the beauty of these custom cars as the rain drips off them in the night, but after several races you might ask where the sun went? After constant night races, the game felt a little bit suffocating and some fun daytime racing would’ve been welcomed. The game also seems to have an odd shift from night, to dawn and then back to night. Where did the day go? The transitions are also awkwardly placed. There is one track I replayed where I knew that around a specific turn, night would shift to dawn, but when the race would end, I would return to the dark of night.
The cut scenes are live action sequences that look pretty, but are also equally cringe worthy for their lacklustre voice acting and odd stereotyped choices. The characters feel like they are pulled from 1990’s misfit stereotypes and surrounded by energy drinks. Energy drinks are great, but who dresses like these characters? I’m pretty sure the game was supposed to be set in present time.
Need For Speed also requires a constant internet connection which is unfortunate for those who want to race offline or pause their game. The multiplayer just offers the expected standard options, so it seems unnecessary and even more unfortunate that you can’t choose on or offline. I didn’t really party up with any friends, but you should be able to build a crew of up to 8 racers, so you can enter events together or cruise around.
Overall, this game can still be enjoyed by fans of NFS or the racing genre in general. The racing itself is pretty solid and the car customization is fun, which is what the game is all about, but this addition to the franchise fails to hit the mark in many other areas.
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