Need for Speed Review (PS4)
Ghost Games, developers of NFS: Rivals, is back at it with a suedo-reboot of the popular EA franchise, Need for Speed. While it may be considered a reboot, traces of familiarity are prevalent throughout the new title, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it only works if incorporated correctly. As with most NFS games its fan base is looking for fast cars, customization, top-end speed and mayhem on the highway, but does the new offering from Ghost Games deliver what fans have been asking for?
As with any racing game, even an arcade based one, the core driving mechanics will determine a lot of the games value and playability, and thankfully NFS offers up a solid driving model. What is tricky here, though, is that if one chooses to only play the title on a limited basis, than you may not agree with my opinion. I had to devote hours into racing, unlocking and tuning, to get the car to handle exactly how I felt it should for my style. Whether that approach by Ghost Games is the correct one, well, that’s subjective at best, and ultimately comes down to each individual user. With that said, those who choose to learn how to handle the vehicle properly, rather than to fear or fight the mechanics, will find much more enjoyment in the game.
Regardless of your opinion of the driving model, NFS offers up a litany of choices within the game. Whether you fancy a straight up point-to-point race, time trial, drift challenge, or just love cruising around the massive city map that the developers created, you can do that, and in your own time frame. There are a lot of ways to describe the new NFS game, but linear is not of them. Not only are there a ton of modes to keep one busy, there are also side-missions such as collecting free parts for your car, turning donuts at a designated area for rep points, or outrunning the police. NFS is the kind of game that if you’re not careful with, one can incoherently lose hours to while playing.
Another extremely important aspect of any racing game are the cars – that’s a given, right? While NFS may not offer the insane amount of machines that other titles do, the ones they do offer fit the game perfectly and cover multiple disciplines of driving. Whether you’re looking for pure speed, the ability to drift, or straight handling, the type of cars that are available in NFS will have you covered. Of course with the right tuning and parts added your vehicle, you can build a vehicle that can achieve all three.
We can’t stress the importance of understanding and properly utilizing the handbrake in regards to drifting. We mention this because if not approached and handled properly, your experience on the road could be drastically different than what the developers set out for. The understanding of feathering the handbrake mechanic, along with proper analog stick manipulation will allow you to corner the vehicles so much more effectively, ultimately saving you time and creating a much better driving experience. The beautiful and massive city that NFS provides will give you plenty of opportunities to hit long straightaways for you speed buffs, but also requires one to understand the mechanics of drifting and cornering correctly. The impact of not doing so will not be felt early on in the process, but will eventually cause massive frustration later in the game – so learn it.
The new NFS speed steals a page from its past by utilizing cut-scenes to push the story forward, and while they may come across as cheesy and sophomoric, they’re supposed to. Without giving away too much of what will take place, let me reassure that after the first hour of gameplay or so within the story, the cut-scenes drop down dramatically – but sadly are replaced with cell calls that seemingly never end. Almost every single challenge that you face will revolve around the story, and one will notice it start to come together the more you accomplish. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the messages are basically the same, and it does become a bit tedious and mundane listening to the phone calls, and watching the cut scenes, but a necessity I guess. I do wish the story was a bit more streamlined, and that the chaotic nature of the game was a bit toned down, but in the end the story has merit.
The decision to make NFS an “always online” game seems a bit strange to me, as it seems totally unnecessary in regards to the bulk of the game. When in story mode there is literally zero input that an outside online user has in regards to what you are trying to accomplish. In fact, the only time I actually noticed other users around, is when I was trying accomplish a racing goal, and they would interfere with said goal. Although my console is always connected, I do take issue with the online requirement for one big reason. During my time with the game, I lost connection to the server on four separate occasions because of my internet connection issues thanks to my provider. Is this the fault of Ghost Games? Of course not, but when you require the user to be connected online all the time, issues like this will pop up, and you are basically held captive by the problem at hand.
Other than always being required to be online, NFS does provide a wide array of subtle offerings for the online fan. First and foremost, NFS allows the user to create or join a crew of up to eight members. Why is that important? Mostly because the amount of money and rep points you receive will significantly increase if you are racing online with other crew members. The game also offers up three daily challenges, ability to upload in-game screen captures (and receive likes), and of course you can always jump into someones game and participate in their world. The game also offers leader boards and updated stats for you journey through the course of the game.
This may not be quite the game that many NFS fans were hoping, but that doesn’t mean the game should be discounted. The driving is fun and difficult at higher levels, and the overall experience gets methodically better with the more time devoted to playing it. This game has polarizing written all over it, meaning that there will be a contingency of people who love NFS, and those that will probably hate it, with very few in between. If I didn’t put in the time to go deep into story mode I might have been in the group of those that hate it, but I did, and I don’t. The story could be deeper, the racing could be better, but overall the game offers up fun experience that one will forget about three months from now.
Learning Curve – While it may take a while to learn all the nuances of the game, once you’ve done that, it’s pretty straight forward.
Visuals – The game can be beautiful at times, but the created environment doesn’t showcase it enough.
Audio – While the sound is well done, there just isn’t enough to be excited about.
Customization – The game offers a simple, yet, deep catalog of choices that should keep most happy.
Value – Not sure there is a ton of value here, mainly because of the repetitive nature.
Score – 7.0 (Good)