GAME NAME: Need for speed: Rivals
DEVELOPER(S): Ghost Games
PLATFORM(S): PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
GENRE(S): Racing, Sports, Arcade
RELEASE DATE(S): November 22nd, 2013
The Need for Speed series has seen its fair share of overhauls and reboots over the years, and it seems the series has started to rise back to the high levels of quality it saw a decade ago. Ghost Games (which is mostly made up of Criterion developers) is behind this latest entry Need for Speed: Rivals, and if breakneck speeds and expensive sports cars crashing into things was what you were hoping for this time around, then put on your driving gloves.
Need for Speed: Rivals was designed with multiplayer in mind, and although you can play offline, it’s only when you jump online that everything comes together in the new Alldrive mode. You begin the game by choosing the path of a Racer or Cop, each with their own objectives and cars to choose from. Choosing the path to uphold the law will see you chase down racers all over Redview County, a large geographically diverse area that has you driving through locations ranging from snow and sand to dense forests. Playing as a cop is by far the easiest option and lets you chase down your objectives via time trials where you can bust a few racers and steal their Speed Points. These Speed Points are the currency of Redview County and you will use them to buy performance upgrades and to splash a few coats of new paint on your fancy sports car. That and a few decals and various rim colours is about as far as customisation extends and so your cars will look pretty much stock standard.
When you jump behind the wheel to become a Racer, things get a little more interesting. Just like the Cop option, you will be given objectives to complete via your speed list; however, just like illegal street racing in real life, there is a lot more risk involved. Racers earn SP from evading the police and beating other online racers that you have challenged. And thanks to the multiplier system, the longer you can keep your wheels spinning, the more your SP increases.
The multiplier system only works for the racers and is a nice incentive that helps you earn SP fast, but there is a catch. You will have to return to your safehouse to bank your winnings otherwise all of your hard work will literally be for nothing. If you wreck your car or get busted on the way to the safe house, you lose everything, which is extremely frustrating and will test the durability of your controller. Staying on the road with your winnings is basically gambling because you could either double your SP or wrap your car around a tree and lose everything. To make things harder, safe houses are not just around the bend; some of them are a good few miles away and making it there safely is made harder due to other players that will be hunting you down.
This system of having to bank your SP as a racer turns Need for Speed: Rivals into a chaotic race for survival. It’s a great addition for the series because it makes every race that much more intense with the only draw back being the loading times between banking your SP and getting back on the road. Thankfully, these loading times are one of the very few negatives in Need for Speed: Rivals as the visuals look great with plenty of detailed cars. Speaking of which, Ferrari is back in Need for Speed after having been left off of the roster for over a decade. And it’s a good thing too because there is a lot of world to see while cruising in your Ferrari, a world that spans hundreds of kilometers and consists of beautiful landscapes and dynamic weather effects. There were a few strange glitches such as our cars bouncing like a ball after a crash and the odd texture pop in here and there but nothing that breaks the game or the experience. Crashes could do with a little more intensity with your bumper being the only real part of the car that comes off, but this is likely due to Porsche and Ferrari not wanting to see their vehicles squashed like a beer can.
That said, not wanting to destroy the cars too badly seems a little strange as the car manufactures seem to have no problem with your vehicle dropping mines and letting off an electrical charges that stuns vehicles around you. And those are only a few of the many weapons you will be able to use against your rivals that give the game a slight “karting game” feel. The online focus and risky speed runs to the safe house will have you cross many miles around Redview County and places Need for Speed: Rivals high on the podium as one of the shinnying moments in the series. The PS4 version also looks fantastic, but if you were looking for another reason to hang on to your current-gen console, Need for Speed: Rivals will help you get a few more miles out of it before moving onto to your next-gen console.