Need for speed : rivals Review


Need for Speed : rivals seems to be a pretty bullet proof franchise these days. It can deliver the odd stinker (The Run, I’m looking at you), but in a year or two the game will fold back to its roots and deliver a highly competent if ever-so-slightly uninspiring racer.

need for speed : rivals

That pretty much sums up Rivals, which is high on gloss and excitement, but a touch lacking in any real compelling depth or mechanics.
The game does what it says on the tin, structuring itself around the constant battle between rebel ne’er- do-well racers and the cops who try to run them off the road. In terms of plot and structure it’s o mere afterthought – after all, the aim of the cops isn’t so much a good arrest as to more or less kill racers. I don’t know about you, but when I see a million dollar sportscar spear off the road and crash and bum there’s not going to be anyone surviving!

need for speed : rivals

The racers are equally vapid, wanting to do nothing more than go fast. You might think this is damning, but after The Run it’s actually refreshing – Need for Speed: Rivals is about getting the bare minimum of structure around the game’s core mechanic: sexy cars, high speed chases, and constant upgrades.
The game begins with the appearance of choice – you pick racer or cop – and then goes into a brief tutorial to show you the basics of either pursuit or evasion. But it’s purely cosmetic; once it’s complete you’re told to do the second tutorial, and then you’re free to switch between lawbreaker and lawkeeper throughout the game.

need for speed : rivals

Both sides get a mix of upgrades and weapons to use as the game progresses, but as decisive as they can be, more often than not it still comes down to pure racing. The racer’s turbo boost is probably the most effective boost you can get, easily outpacing most cop cars, whereas the cop upgrades such as spike traps and sonic thingies are a little more tame, and rather prone to be useless if mistimed. Ramming racers is still easily the most foolproof – and satisfying – way to get them out of the game.
Of the two, it’s probably the racer who gets the best gameplay. Pursuit is fun, but there’s nothing quite like being tailed by an entire pack of cop cars as you scream through twisty mountain roads or beachfront resorts. The game’s fictional Red view County {which must have just about the highest crime and vehicular fatality rate in the world) is certainly a gorgeous place to race and chase, but it’s lacking in built-up urban areas, which is a shame. For a game built around car chases, it would be great to get your own personal iterations of the greatest of them, from the classic film Bullitt, a race which goes from tense street racing to the long, sweeping curves of the hills outside San Francisco – in Rivals, it’s all the latter, without the former.
The cars all control really well. It’s a much more approachable game than, say, Forza, Rivals wants everyone to feel like elite drivers, and even playing on keyboard – which we would not recommend – you can still get a good deal of control With a gamepad, though, or a dedicated steering wheel, each car feels sufficiently unique, and fun to race. And boy, do they all look good. Whether handling corners at high speed or crashing out in a ball of flame, Rivals is certainly attractive.

need for speed : rivals

However, it’s also not really anything new. There’s a lot of Hot Pursuit in Rivals, making it feel almost like a mere iteration of that title rather than anything truly new. If you liked that game a lot, that’s likely not a bad thing, but it can all feel a bit samey. If you skipped Hot Pursuit though, this game will feel fresh enough to keep you interested for a while.
Getting some pals together for multiplayer is probably the best way to keep the game fresh, and with six players all tooling around Redview, the game comes alive. You can team up to outrun or pursue the AI, or go head to head, and the intense pace of the game means there’s never a dull moment. You can always easily fast travel to where your friends are, or you can just do your own thing, just happy to have pals on the same map.
At its best, Need for Speed: Rivals is everything that’s great about the series – ludicrously fast cars, getting chased by ludicrously fast cars in cop colours.
It falls apart if you think about it too much, but otherwise is a tonne of fun.

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