The Need for Speed series, or NFS for short, has undertaken major revamps in previous years with each release taking a different approach to car racing. The fundamentals have remained in place however and generally, with exception of NFS: Carbon, the NFS games have been a big hit. Those fundamentals include fast and ferocious gameplay that makes the game fun and enjoyable to play. Let’s find out if The Run, the newest to the series, will continue with those traits.
It must be said I am a big fan of the series in general, especially since the early Need for Speed Underground days, so when I read the previews about The Run I thought this is the type of NFS game that would suit me. It didn’t disappoint from the outset. Straight away upon booting up the career mode I thought I was part of a movie. It has a very Michael Bay-esque touch to it and I couldn’t wait to get started. You sit in the driving seat as Jackson Rourke or Jack for short, a man who has found himself in masses of debt with little hope of getting out of it. When all appears lost you receive a phone call from an associate giving you the perfect opportunity to clear all your debt, and make a tidy little profit while doing so. In brief, “There is a race taking place from San Francisco and ends in New York City, with the winner walking away with a smooth $25,000,000. The only problem that you face is the other 249 drivers aiming for that same prize”, and that is where the game sets out its stall.
Thrown straight into the deep end you quickly get to grips with how the game is going to play out over the 3000 mile race, the biggest in Need for Speed history. The journey between San Francisco and New York is split up into different sections, with each section providing you with different challenges. As the game isn’t an open world format there is only one way to proceed, and that is to complete the challenge that is set in front of you. These include overtaking a specific amount of cars (other racers, not general traffic) within a specific time, a checkpoint style drive, one-on-one racing with rival cars and distance driving. As there are 249 cars to take over during this 3000 mile trek, the game can become, to no surprise, a little repetitive. With their being no scope for choosing what kind of event you want to do next this can set in boredom and the need for a new challenge.
To try and keep you away from boredom EA have included a new aspect to the Need for Speed series, and an aspect which is a first. There are now parts of the story which take place outside of the vehicle. Unfortunately what appears to be a nice introduction to the series proves to be nothing more than a nice introduction. You aren’t able to walk about yourself as this is all done in cut scenes, but during the scenes there is a selection of QTEs (Quick Time Events) requiring you to bash the button placed up upon your screen in order to escape the police, or just make it over a wall etc. That said it does do what I think EA hoped it did, which is to split the game up a bit, a change from the normal racing, add to the storyline and to help avoid boredom from kicking in.
As for the driving itself The Run is sitting in a lay-by. A cross between Shift and Hot Pursuit, The Run is very easy to pick up and play, yet with the game's Frostbite 2 engine it allows for in-depth racing mechanics that provide a challenge for even the best of drivers. The terrain can differ massively too, from open landscapes to the roads surrounded by snow mountains, with each section of terrain providing you with ample opportunities to test some of the 60+ cars that are available.
Speaking of cars, there is a decent array of vehicles to choose from, and while it isn’t in the same league as Gran Turismo for car selection, the majority of your favourite cars will be available throughout the game. Simply drive into a ‘Shell’ looking garage during any part of the game and chose from manufacturers like Aston Martin, Bentley, Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini. You can also upgrade your cars by gaining XP, which can be easily achieved by over taking, driving on the wrong side of the road and other dangerous moves.
If taking over cars in a variety of different race type’s offline isn’t your thing then you can take it online and compete against other drivers from around the world. There’s nothing really new here though and unfortunately you don’t get 250 player online races, as cool as that would’ve been. What you do get to do is compete with up to 7 other online players in a variety of different game types. Supercar Challenge, The Underground and Muscle Car Battles to name all but a few, and each of these options pretty much cover the different range in cars available.
In the past EA haven’t been renowned for producing outstanding graphics in any of the Need for Speed games; however that’s not to say they aren’t any good. The Run is kind off in the middle of the road. The cars look sharp and glossy while the scenery, minus the invisible barriers, work well with the game. The sun however is a different story. The blinding glare you receive from the sun when you’re driving along is ridiculous, especially in the certain stages of the career mode. This is definitely sloppy and something that should’ve been picked up when the game was in testing.
In summary, The Run provides yet another aspect to the NFS series and with its Hollywood-like cut scenes and storyline, easy to pick-up-and-play driving; The Run is definitely one to run out for, however I wouldn’t run a marathon for the game. If you’re not a NFS freak, a simple rent will keep you occupied for more than enough time. Anyways, I’m off to pick up my winning cheque for $25,000,000.