I have fond memories of the Need for Speed Underground series, so when I saw that ability to ‘pimp’ your car in a Need for Speed game, it instantly got my attention. People who know me, know I love modified cars, so with this type of game coming to the new generation of consoles, it was a day one purchase.
Now I have to admit, I played the majority of this game before some of the patches were added to fix some of the annoying features, and only reaped the benefits of the ‘fixes’ for the last 10% of the game.
So lets get started, this game looks really good, almost photo realistic at times. The way the lights shine off the ever damp road really does look amazing. The cars, again look really well, they do a great job of merging your modified car with the full motion video scenes. I guess if there’s anything that lets down the visuals, it’s the buildings as they all look a little…flat.
Need for Speed games have always had a certain ‘cheese’ factor, and this one knocks it out of the park. In previous games, you’d be the new kid, arriving fresh in a particular area for reasons, and have a particularly shady past..for reasons. Throughout the game, you’ll take everyone by surprise and become the most highly respected driver in the area. Although the plot in this doesn’t really differ, the story telling mechanics does. Previously, you would get some cheesy cut scenes in-between races of the quality expected on a straight to DVD mockbuster. In this, they’ve stepped it up a bit. Yes, you still get the cheesy cutscenes, however these are all down from a first person perspective, fist pumps and all. Now I know that some people found this really off putting, but I really enjoyed it, and found it the right level of cheese…enough me to want to keep playing to see how the story unfolded.
So I guess the most important bit, it’s a driving game, how does the driving feel? You know what, it’s not bad, really arcady, and the fact that you can pull off an epic power slide by simply tapping the brake is a whole lot of fun. What I didn’t find fun however was the rubber banding that went on. Early in the game, when I had quite an underpowered car, I was struggling with a particular race. After a few hours gameplay, and few car upgrades, I revisited the race, and found I was able to creep ahead of the lead car, only to have the every driver fly past me if I made the slightest mistake. Towards the end of the game, I revisited the race again, at this point I’d kept the same car, but taken it from it’s original 300bhp to 1022bhp. Although I shot off the start line, and the other cars were but a small while dot in my rear view mirror, I was plagued by having them all shoot past me if I made the slightest mistake. Although this was addressed at in future patch, I still found that even with a massively overpowered car, I would find myself loosing pole position due to grazing a barrier if taking a corner too fast.
Another annoyance that was addressed in a patch was the phone. This was the way the game kept the story moving along. After a particular race, or even during, you’d get an icon pop up with a mobile ringtone, and this would be one of your newly adopted crew ringing to tell you about a new race you could take part in. The problem was, you could be in the midst of a race, powersliding at 100mph+ around a corner, only to have your phone go off…..very distracting! Luckily in a future patch, you now have the option to mute all calls.
I guess if there are any other negatives about the game, it was the unrealistic AI. I long for the day, a racing game will be smart enough to not have the AI drivers aim for the racing line and try and stay there. In the world of Need for Speed, you are apparently racing with car enthusiasts, people who live and breath modified cars, and then for some reason they’ll set off from the start line, and smash straight into the side of you potentially doing thousands of pounds worth of damage. This I think was the most annoying when doing the drift challenges. There were a few where you’d do a small circuit, an on this small tight narrow circuit, you’d have over a million pounds worth of highly tuned cars acting like a demolition derby. When each one of these knocks would break your points due to knocking you off track got rather frustrating in later races.
Ok, one final bit of whining. Now this isn’t the games fault, but the marketing. If you paid the extra £10 for the digital delux edition, you got 10% off all in game virtual purchases, essentially meaning, if you pay a tenner, you have to do 10% less work….I didn’t like this. I was also suckered in by the ‘Order on EA Access and get to play
early’. Although technically correct, you could only play for ten hours, and then the game would lock again until the game officially released. This was participially annoying as I’d not read the small print, and hoped to spend the week off I had playing Need for Speed. Ok, very last bit….a driving game, in 2015….that doesn’t support steering wheel and pedals…..especially when you’ve been out and bought a steering wheel and pedals specifically for this game…
The thing is, you may read all the above and thing, ‘Maaaaan, you really hated this game’, which would be incorrect. Once you got past the niggles, and learnt to use the game mechanics against it, it was actually a fun game. Driving around the streets in my highly tuned, Nissan GTR, taking pictures, doing donuts, holding a powerslide for over a minute around multiple corners was a whole lot of fun. The time I spend with my ‘crew’ genuinely made me smile, and some of the adrenaline fuelled races genuinely got the heart pounding. I really hope Ghost Games take what they’ve learnt from this, and make Need for Speed 1.5….with steering wheel and pedal support. Until then, I’ll continue to keep dipping back into this as new content is added.
Approx Time taken to beat – 25 hours
Difficulty setting – Normal
Score – [Rating:4/5]
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