Need For Speed Wants To Make You Do Sweet Drifts, Bro
The Need for Speed franchise has been a hallmark throughout gaming’s illustrious history. Following its initial release way back in 1994, we’ve seen Need for Speed games ever since. Most of you have fond childhood memories of playing these simple, but elegant arcade racers. Possibly the most beloved entries into the series, at least among people my age who were teenage boys at the time, was the Underground series. They had an increased focus on street racing culture and the idea of pimping out yo whip with the flyest accessories, chrome and neon you can find.
Since then, the franchise has bounced around a lot. We saw the change happen when Need for Speed Most Wanted graced us with its presence. Cop chases, increased crappy FMV cutscenes and less fly whips, but the game was largely successful gaining widespread admiration from fans. Then things just changed drastically with Need for Speed Shift which suddenly tried to make the game a simulation racer and stripped all idea of fly whips from its collective conscience. Then they decided to reboot Most Wanted and give the reins to Criterion, the creators of Burnout.
While the Criterion era games were serviceable, they had a distinct lack of soul and didn’t offer a lot in terms of story or that sweet car customization. If you’ve been following the series, you’d notice I left a whole lot out, but that’s simply because there has been a Need for Speed game every year since 1994. Except for 2014 which saw no release. Instead of that, we got the announcement of another Need for Speed reboot that will have an increased focus on street racing and will bring back car customization. Fly whips, here we come.
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Name: Need for Speed
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developers: Ghost Games
Release Date: 5 November 2015
Price: $60/ R500 (PC), $60/ R800 (Console)
Need for Speed as you can tell by the name is a total reboot of the franchise. What this means is that they have essentially gone back to the drawing board once more and tried to make this series relevant again. We often like to complain about Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty being a yearly franchise, but need for speed has been doing this annual release thing for over a decade. The ideas need to be fresh and they need to incorporate something new to the table. So what is new in Need for Speed?
The most immediately obvious thing is the return to FMV cutscenes with actors “talking” to you while you’re presumably a faceless, voiceless entity again. The game’s story will be determined by your chosen play style of which there are 5 to choose from. Speed, for those that like it fast. Build, for those that want to pimp yo whip. Style, for those that like to go sideways around corners and be on YouTube. Crew, for those that like to stick together. And finally Outlaw, for those that don’t like the law. The storylines will overlap and entwine with each other as you progress.
Each style of play will also have an Icon. For example, Ken Block, the drifting master of the universe, is the Icon for style. They will guide you on your journey through the halls of pistons and nitrous. It appears that the game will have a sort of choose your own adventure style depending on how you like to play.
It has to be said, the game looks absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to the Frostbite 3 engine and the focus on current-gen hardware, this is one of the best looking games out there, if pre-release marketing material can be trusted. The cars look meticulously detailed and the city looks equally as pretty. Need for Speed Rivals, the newest game in the franchise, was gorgeous to behold and it was a treat driving through such a beautiful environment. Need for Speed is looking even prettier.
The game will feature an open-world, but we do not know what sort of open-world this will be. Rivals had an open-world, but you couldn’t really do anything within it except car chases and most of the events were launched from the menu anyway. Newer Need for Speed games had a vacant open-world where you could drive through the city if you wish, but there really wasn’t any point to doing it. Only time will tell if this is a true open-world experience or not.
One of the more contentious points is that the game will require you to always be online. That old chestnut. EA have a really crappy reputation when it comes to their games that require a constant internet connection. Need we remind you of SimCity and its disastrous launch and the fallout that happened from that? The reason for this is to allow for players to interact with each other in the open-world and to use the AllDrive system which allows players to race with each other. This might be all well and good, but this persistent online connection is required for both the singleplayer and multiplayer portions of the game.
Need for Speed looks like it will be a solid racer at the end of the day. The singleplayer Icon stuff might be gimmicky and terribly acted and the always-online aspect is a real concern. However, it looks gorgeous and players can once more customize their cars and get that authentic street racing feel. Time will tell if this is a disaster or a triumph.
Suspected Selling Points
- It’s a full reboot of the franchise with emphasis being placed on street racing again which can be great news for long time Need for Speed fans.
- Looks stunning and incredibly detailed.
- The Icon system can make for some interesting interactions.
- An increased focus on car customization.
- The always-online aspect is a massive downer and may lead to a disastrous launch and a disastrous experience.
- The Icon system may be a poorly acted gimmick with no substance.
- Lack of diversity in the activities one can do.
- It’s the 13th Need for Speed game which can make one worry.
Arcade racing fans can rightfully be excited for the newest installment int the long running Need for Speed franchise. It looks gorgeous and it can potentially be a really fun racer if they play their cards right. Let’s hope the always-online component doesn’t ruin everything and there aren’t too many dudebros and rave music.
Who am I kidding, there will be so much rave music.