Sometimes even the obsession with speed needs a braking, for this reason those of Ghost Games (that is a large part of Criterion), after Need for Speed Rivals they took some time to create a chapter that could serve from a new fixed point, a reboot modeled by listening to the opinion of lovers of the series. Here is the latest Need for Speed, devoid of any subtitle, further proof of its being the "zero point" from which to restart one of the most famous and long-lived brands in the history of video games. We had already had a close encounter with Electronic Arts' new racing game in the past and our opinion was a small promotion. Will the final version have convinced us? Let's find out together.
Need for Speed is all new after a pause for reflection: here is our review!
Five by five
The history of the game, between previews and trials, is now well known. Need for Speed tells of a stranger who race after race will become the most recognizable driver in the Ventura Bay underground scene, a fictional version of Los Angeles. At his side there will be five characters, three men and two women, who correspond to five "souls" of the game. These guys are the alter egos of really existing characters that revolve around the world of racing (and who have marginal parts because, so we were told, they are not great actors).
If our performances are impressive enough we will attract their attention, we can challenge them and transform ourselves into the new legends. The narration is entrusted to video clips (dubbed in Spanish) that intersperse the races and tell us about our climb to success. Initially they are quite trivial and even annoying, but over time it is inevitable to become passionate about this story made of people who greet each other with their fist, of love plots, crowded places and the different personalities of Spike, Manu, Amy, Robyn and Travis. Indeed, unlocking the next cinematic sequence was undoubtedly one of the reasons that prompted us to play more. Five is the magic number of Need for Speed, this is because the developers have identified five fundamental aspects that have always characterized the game: speed, style, tuning, crew and outlaws. And it will be these components that will influence the reputation of our character, that is his level. By increasing the reputation we will be able to unlock better parts for our car and face the most difficult challenges of the game, but also get the pieces necessary to make it the most tamarra thing on four wheels in the city. If we touch 100 km / h in a few seconds we will receive tuning points, making a perfect curve in drifting will increase the style ones, touching 300 km / h will increase the speed points, running together with our friends will grow the crew aspect, breaking the street lamps, running away by the police or ramming bystanders will increase the outlaw score. Accumulating points is very easy and by doing these or other things together, multipliers will be activated that will make everything even easier. In the course of history we will also come across five types of events that will obviously each be dedicated to one of these aspects and to which we can only participate by answering the many (too many) phone calls from our friends.
A few words with Craig Sullivan
On the occasion of the review we were also able to chat with Craig Sullivan, creative director of the game, that's what he told us.
Can you explain better how the difficulty is handled in the game?
Artificial intelligence adapts to some elements, but there is still a difficulty curve linked to the progress of the story. There are times when cars slow down or speed up, but calling this a "rubber band" makes it sound like a cheap gimmick. I've played games that don't have AI that adapts and tend not to be fun because sometimes you're too fast for opponents or too slow. So yes, the level adapts according to the car, the performance, the event, but there is also a difficulty that progressively rises and takes the player to more complex tracks or to fight against shorter times and higher scores.
Why did you choose to set the game from dusk to dawn?
There are different lighting in the game and some areas are darker, while others have a light near dawn, so we still have some variety. Setting the game up during the day would have spoiled the atmosphere; we could have done it, but since Ventura Bay is like Los Angeles we would have had to put in much, much more traffic to make it realistic. Fans of the game also wanted something more "Underground" so we made them happy.
With headlights on in the night
Need for Speed is characterized by a purely nocturnal setting. A choice dictated by the desire to focus on the world of clandestine racing and the "Tuning Culture" which prefers the spotlights of a workshop and the neon signs in the sunlight.
The result is a double-edged sword: on the one hand we have perfect reflections, wet surfaces, fluorescent lights that are reflected on the bodywork and splashes of rain that crashing on the windshield enhance the Frostbyte Engine, on the other it is inevitable that a world experienced by sunset at dawn after a while everything looks the same. Of course, there are more hilly areas and city districts, there are wide highways and tight hairpin bends, but after a few hours of play the setting ceases to amaze. To make this weakness even more evident there is the fact that the game map is not very large and in the long run the races will take place more or less along the same roads, for more or less long stretches, everything will depend on the difficulty. In fact, the events can be easy, medium or difficult, however this will only relatively affect the skill of our opponents while it will affect above all the composition of the track, the maximum time in which we will have to cover it or the score to be achieved with the drift. And if there is one thing that Need for Speed does very well, and God forbid, it is the feeling of speed. Variety may not be his forte, but when the race starts and we find ourselves drifting into a tunnel lit by the cold neon light, with music booming in our ears and pursuers screaming their engines behind us, it's impossible not to get excited. The driving model is perfect for having fun throwing a million-euro car to the limit, nailing it and letting it slip into a gentle drift along a sharp bend, from this point of view Ghost Games has done a great job, it must be recognized. Finally, as far as damage is concerned, do not worry, they are exclusively aesthetic and only really strong impacts (such as a front) force you to stop and start again.
As far as artificial intelligence is concerned, the question is more complex. The game is in fact calibrated to always guarantee a certain level of challenge, so it will be very difficult to escape the opponents, but also very easy to reach them, due to the so-called "rubber bands".
In fact, the cars almost always seem tied together with an elastic that prevents excessive detachment, a feature already present in other games in the series (or in Super Mario Kart), but which perhaps it would be time to abandon to focus on a greater balance of the missions. Because of this stylistic choice it will very often happen to overtake almost stationary cars that then inexplicably pass us smoothly, only to be mysteriously reached near the finish line. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the early parts of the game, when our car is usually stronger than that of the opponents, but it tends to fade when we reach the halfway point. At that point all the races will tend to be challenging and the slightest mistake will be enough to see the possibility of dribbling the opponents fade. We wrote "usually" because we had a sensational front end halfway through the race and still managed to beat an opponent behind the wheel of a Porsche that looked like a rocket in the early stages of the race.
How do you wanna run tonight?
Even if there are five friends, the events that are proposed to us are all quite similar. In the case of speed we will have to race against time or against other pilots, in the case of drifting beat the opponents' score or a predetermined number. Drifting also has two other variables: in one it will not be enough to drift, but we will also have to be at the head of the race, so as to increase the score with the multiplier, in the other, called "drift train", the points will be counted only if we remain close to opponents, which makes this mode particularly frustrating. Due to the aforementioned elastic effect of artificial intelligence, in fact, it may happen that we have to wait for particularly slow cars that we will then find ourselves chasing without being able to reach them, with consequent disasters from the point of view of the score.
Beyond this fragmentation, the game does not offer particular variety when it comes to things to do, although achievement lovers can have fun looking for three types of collectibles: the scenic spots, the places to skid and the improvements for the cars. The monotony is accentuated by the nocturnal setting and by the general equivalence of car performances, so much so that in the end, as we have already said, the real motivation that pushes us to continue in the game is to discover where the story goes, whose longevity should not exceed the ten hours. Wanting the most "peppery" part of the game is that relating to the outlaws and the possibility of playing cat and mouse with the police. From this point of view, however, the general stupidity of the artificial intelligence that governs agents does not encourage much to engage in pursuits in the initial part, which is a shame because those who resist the boredom of the first clashes will then find themselves on dozens of cars, checkpoints and spiked strips that will make life difficult. Obviously there is also an online part that will allow us to run with our friends and participate in their events, increasing the final score. If we want, we can also take part in races that are further ahead in history than where we are playing. Need for Speed is an "always online" title, which means that we will necessarily have to be connected to the Internet to play, this is because, even if our friends will not be there, we will still see other random players participating in our session. We can challenge them or we can ignore them but, trust me, for sure we will find them in the boxes at the wrong time.
A car is forever
To make things more varied, in theory, cars should take care of it, but also from this point of view the situation brings with it lights and shadows. According to the developers, any car in the game, even a '74 Volvo, can reach peak power once all content is unlocked.
This means that, basically, we could use only one car for the whole game without ever having the urge to change it, beyond the simple aesthetic taste. In fact, fortunately this statement is only half true. If it is true that in the end the cars are all equivalent to performance, but there are vehicles that grow faster than others, which leads to changing cars in the middle of the game, perhaps when the initial one proves to be not very powerful and we don't want to " farm "reputation to unlock new pieces. In addition, some races can only be unlocked by cars with a certain power or special cars that will therefore become part of our garage, equipped with only five seats. At our disposal there are rear, front and integral drive cars, this further differentiates the possible driving styles that in the end are channeled towards two main choices: racing or drift setup. Thanks to some simple indicators we can in fact choose whether we prefer a car glued to the road or a more skidding drive, adapting the settings to the race from time to time. In addition to the tuning, which will allow us to significantly improve the performance of the car, there is then all the part linked to the aesthetics with spoilers, side skirts, exhausts and alloy wheels up to the customization of the car livery with dozens of different stickers to make it truly unique and recognizable.
CommentTested version PlayStation 4 Resources4Gaming.com
Need for Speed is like a turbocharged engine: it gives its best when the revs start to go up. The game is initially too simple, almost monotonous, but towards the end the level of the challenge rises and things get interesting. Too bad, however, that, given the lack of variety of missions and the banality of the scenario, perhaps many will abandon it sooner, once the exaltation of the first hour is exhausted. Moreover, in 2015 it is really bizarre to resort to an artificial intelligence forced to cheat to make the challenge more peppery and that in fact cancels the very sense of wanting to create a car that goes faster than the others, this without counting the bewildering ability to driving certain policemen who one moment before are glued to your bumper and the next they insist on accelerating against the wall. This reboot is undoubtedly very nice to see, the narration is interesting and, perhaps, if more attention had been paid to the variety of missions, it would have been a chapter of much greater depth.
- Incredible feeling of speed
- The story is all in all pleasant
- Great tuning system
- Visually impressive ...
- ... but also monotonous
- Artificial intelligence that "cheats" to keep up
- Performance of flattened cars
- Short and not very varied in the missions
- Fairly small and poorly exploited map