When you look at what’s on the market for both the new generation of Xbox One hardware and old generation Xbox 360, it is hard to find many decent arcade racing games, they are a dying breed being over taken by the more serious hard-core simulation genre of gaming. Need for Speed: Rivals is the first title in the franchise to now be looked after and released by Ghost Games, and they seem to be a good pair of hands looking after everything.
Need for Speed: Rivals offers up some superb racing mechanics but from the offset is let down by a game world left feeling empty and devoid of character. It quite clearly draws on ideas and inspiration from the 2010 title, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, which actually if we look closely, Need for Speed: Rivals almost acts as a sequel. Also clearly visible are features; the open world aspect especially, reminiscent of Need for Speed: Carbon, a launch title back on the Xbox 360. Don’t panic though, where Need for Speed: Rivals lets itself down in terms of a unique standalone personality, it does make up for in other areas.
In Need for Speed: Rivals players’ progress through two distinctly different careers – one as a street racer and the other a cop charged with taking down the latter. Both careers may be switched between at any time, meaning that getting bored of playing the good or bad guy never really becomes a problem. The game plays out in the fictional picturesque location of Redview County; a sprawling 160 kilometre area made up of snow-capped mountains, windy forest roads, fast highways and small village areas. This is larger than last year’s Need for Speed game; Most Wanted.
The storyline is pretty much a moot point, there isn’t one. OK, that’s not entirely true, whether as a racer or cop you’ll be treated to a collection of over-the-top cut scenes and voiceovers via faceless representatives from both sides. It’s standard affair; racer wants to push things to the limits whilst showing the authority who is the boss. Cops want to catch the bad guys. So ignoring that, players simply complete a Speed List (checklist) made up of specific races, pursuits, and other objectives in order to unlock cars and trigger the next brief story sequence. Of course, you don’t need to follow these all the time. If you just want to take your new ride out for a spin, then of course do so. They’ll still be plenty to do out on the roads and highways of Redview County. Speed Point are accumulated via in-game actions but particularly event completions, these are then spent on either gadgets for stopping racers (when playing as the cops), or spent on various new upgrades, cars, gadgets and visuals if playing as a racer. Need for Speed: Rivals also sees the return of Autolog which tracks the average and top speeds at specific points all over the map, these are then displayed on the in-game leader boards giving players bragging rights over their friends.
Once you get behind the wheel of your car and out and about in Redview County, races, time trial, pursuits and other events are started by driving to the requisite in-world icon and pressing the LB button. This is also the same button to use if you want to challenge other racers head-to-head, it is also used when as a cop to switch on your lights and start a pursuit. This is a great system made better by the ability to stack events; a race can be turned into a hot pursuit event should it catch the attention of the police.
Depending on whom you are playing as; racer or cop, you’ll have two distinctly different progression trees and customisations options. For instance the police have access to things like spike strips, roadblocks, and car-disabling EMPs. Although the police cars come in 3 varieties (Patrol, Enforcer & Undercover) they are unable to be upgraded other than the above toys. Racers however can upgrade each vehicle’s durability; ram strength, control, acceleration, and top speed. This being a Need for Speed game, there is a plethora of visual paint and decal customisation options included also. Where the cops have very offensive based gadgets to purchase and install, the racers are more defensive and include shields, radar jammers, stun mines, and a turbo boost for double quick getaways.
Need for Speed: Rivals is an always online, open world style racing title. This means a couple of things: 1) there is no pause feature. If you need to stop the action for any reason, you have to and literally have no other choice, find a hideout (racer) or command post (police). Because of this no pause option, players can be left vulnerable when browsing the map or delving into the games Easy Drive menu system with the d-pad. A dedicated button for “nearest safe house” would have been a great addition. 2) Connecting to an EA Server is dog shite. It is completely unacceptable to be waiting for 20 minutes and restarting 4-5 times before a connection can be found. Come on EA, it’s not just me with this problem.
Need for Speed: Rivals is as ‘arcade’ as you can come, the cars handle fantastically (far too easily in actual fact); a quick tap of the brakes while cornering allows for long, satisfying drifts, while sharper turns can be negotiated at speed using just the right amount of handbrake.
My biggest pet peeve coming up… this grinds my gears like you couldn’t believe… you see, there is this ‘issue’ with playbacks and dodgy camera views. The first is when you crash, but the car isn’t quite a total right off. The car is placed back into the race but facing the wrong direction. Now factor in the lack of mini map during these 10 second crash sequences, and you can quickly make racing destroying bad decisions on what direction you should be going. There is also this random tendency for the game camera to do a 360 of your car. This can happen at any point, but more frequently than most just as you are approaching a corner. Of course without being able to see where you are going, corners become incredibly difficult.
This is the first time out for Ghost Games with Need for Speed, and at a time where the industry sees new hardware and graphic capabilities it can be a daunting time. The game itself is a good looking one but when all is said and done the next-gen version isn’t much of a leap beyond what we have seen with the current gen. That said the Redview County always seems alive and full movement with some incredibly gorgeous weather effects.
Need for Speed: Rivals does a lot of things well, and right. The cars are an absolute joy to drive, customisation options are a plenty and upgrading is slick and easy. Things like the day and night cycle work extremely well and the weather simply gorgeous to beyond on the Xbox One. The Frostbite Engine has been really well implemented. Minor gripes and problems aside, Need for Speed: Rivals is a great game. A step up for the franchise and it’s exciting to see where Ghost Games will take things next.
Next-gen high-octane racing by the name of Need for Speed Rivals arrives from November 22nd for the Xbox One!
Need for Speed Rivals puts gamers behind the wheel of both sides of the law, daring them to cross the line as either a cop or racer in order to gain any advantage in the street’s ultimate rivalry. Players will choose between two distinct career experiences, each with their own set of high-stakes challenges, rewards, pursuit tech and cars. The intensity of the action is at an all-time high thanks to AllDrive, a revolutionary new feature that destroys the line between single player, co-op and multiplayer. Through AllDrive, friends will be seamlessly connected to one racing world where their races and chases can collide at any time, creating the ultimate edge-of-your seat experience.
Winner of the official Game Critics Award for “Best Racing Game” at E3 2013, Need for Speed Rivals will deliver the most adrenaline-filled action racing game this holiday.Players eager to bust racers from day one can pre-order the game at participating retailers and receive the Need for Speed Rivals Ultimate Cop Pack at no additional cost.
A swedish retailer, Webhallen, has listed quite a substantial amount of next-gen games available for pre-ordering on its website. Some of which has not yet been announced or revealed by their developers or publishers. If it is to be believed, the next Xbox looks like it’s readying up to be a sequel machine.
Here are just some of the games outed:
Need for Speed Rivals
Red Dead Redemption 2
Saints Row 5
Sleeping Dogs 2
Sniper Elite 3
Whore of the Orient
Deus Ex: Human Revolution 2
Dragons Dogma 2
Just Cause 3
Mass Effect 4
Mirrors Edge 2
With E3 2013 fast approaching – we’ll keep you posted on what titles are confirmed to be true during the week of June 10th.
EA has today announced Need for Speed Rivals, an action/racing game created by an inspired new development team, using a powerful engine and delivering next-generation gameplay. Need for Speed Rivals is being developed by EA’s newest studio Ghost Games, in partnership with the expert racing team at Criterion Games.
The new ‘Rivals’ addition to the franchise is built on the Frostbite 3 game engine, and captures the adrenaline and intensity of the street’s ultimate rivalry between cops and racers in a stunning open road environment. Gamers’ can play as either a cop or racer, where each side of the law has its own set of high stakes challenges, rewards and consequences. As a racer, the goal is to become infamous for taking risks behind the wheel and capturing your most intense escapes on video for the world to see. The more cops players evade, the more Speed Points they collect, enabling them to unlock new cars and items. Keep raising the stakes race after race to become an ever-more valuable target to the cops – but risk losing it all if busted. As a cop, players work together as part of a team in pursuit of racers, earning prominence and rising in the ranks of the Police Force with every bust. Achieving higher ranks unlocks new police only cars and more powerful pursuit tech.
Ghost Games also announced today the long-awaited return of Ferrari to the Need for Speed franchise . For the first time in seven years, gamers can get behind the wheel of some of the most luxurious, desirable automobiles on the planet, including the F12berlinetta. At the heart of Need for Speed Rivals is AllDrive, an innovative new online feature that allows gamers to seamlessly transition from playing alone, to playing with friends, eliminating the line between single player and multiplayer. Players will have to keep one eye on their rearview mirror as friends will be able to enter and exit races on-the-fly, creating a world where no two events will ever be the same.
Need for Speed Rivals is coming to Xbox 360 on November 19th, 2013 and will also be released on Xbox One later this year.