Review: Need For Speed's Return To Addictive Arcade Racing

Written by Tony Ibrahim     08/12/2011 | 04:50 | Category name i.e.GAMING

There are countless Need for Speed titles, but of them the great ones I can count on one hand. Does Need for Speed: The Run have what it takes to deserve a place amongst its thrilling forefathers?

The story mode kicks off with a heart wrenching introduction but inevitability hits a road block as it tries to inject an organic narrative in the monotonous task of driving. Although it has its fair share of enthralling performances, some parts of the story seem like a dull requisite.

But, if you look past the story mode and focus on arcade-like components, it's a killer. The game features a vast array of old classics and modern supercars. Particularly impressive are the rare gems like Pagani's new Huayra, Lamborghini's Sesto Elemento and Aston Martin's One-77. The cars boast fastidious attention to detail and look exquisite as they wreak havoc against the scenic backdrop.

The best part is when you hit the accelerator and a crescendo of engine notes boom, complemented by screeching tyres and the flailing of police sirens. In real life, most gamers won't get the chance to drive many of the cars featured in the game. Knowing that, every time you get behind a controller and rev the engine, you play out a fantasy and EA has done enough work to make it a worthy experience.

Unlike most racing car games, there's no money in NFS: The Run. It hits the tarmac with speed, starting off with good cars and allowing users to unlock levels before they can upgrade. But even then, they can swap cars as many times as they want, simply by entering a petrol station.

The driving dynamics feel a little more realistic than those used in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II as it's much more difficult to ride slipping traction. The trigger button (R2 on a PS3) is used as the accelerator and realistically portrays how much pressure is needed to accelerate. To drift in this game, balancing the gas, the brake and residual speed is essential; otherwise you'll be catapulted off a cliff or spin out in front of an oncoming semi.

The supporting audio soundtrack really gets your heart rate up. You might be sitting at the beginning of a race, but in no time at all you find yourself standing, walking closer to the screen…and then apologising to your neighbours for the unavoidable cheering and cursing over a race's result.

The most addictive thing about NFS: The Run is the autolog's social aspect. When befriended online gamers beat your race time in a stage, you're automatically notified by the autolog. All of a sudden beating the computer is futile, because you want to do better—you have do better—than your friends. It rouses that healthy and social competition found in classic multiplayer games, like 007's Golden Eye and any of the Fifa titles. Of the whole game, this feature could be the innovation that inspires others.

Need for Speed: The Run is like an action film in that its storyline is barely plausible but it is undeniably entertaining. In one moment you're appreciating beautiful cars. The next, you're being ambushed by cops, exchanging paint with oncoming traffic and tactfully out manoeuvring competitors. It is engaging, dramatic and most importantly, lots of fun.   

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Thrilling gameplay; Autolog; Vast variety of excellent cars;

Cons:

Pathetic narrative; long load times;