Need for Speed is a series that I have not jumped into in a long time, last time I played might have actually been back in the day of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. There was something great about the multiplayer between cops and getaway drivers in which I lost a lot of time laying down spike strips and smashing cars off the road. I thought it was finally time to give the series another try to see what the franchise now looks like after another reboot from Ghost Games.
Over the years the series looks to have suffered from a lot of negativity with people preferring the Underground series. Ghost Games have attempted to bring you the best of Open World Racing together with the underground racing scene. The question is after a year gap have they accomplished bringing the series back to its former glory?
My first experience of this reboot was not to be a good one. The game requires to be always online to play and for the first couple of days I was either seeing intermittent connections or unable to connect to the EA servers at all. I would have felt an offline game mode would have been a great addition., even if this was just a training mode that would allow you learn how to drift and take those troublesome corners at speed. Server connectivity is always a problem we face when a game is first released so I just took this with a pinch of salt and awaited a connection.
When I finally made it into the world of Ventura Bay it was not long until I was faced with something that I am still struggling to decide was a good addition or not, the live action scenes. The actual production of the cut scenes is great and they even manage to fit in your personalised car into the scenes in a flawless way that you don’t really notice that the car isn’t the real deal. The problem I have with this was the acting, it just didn’t feel like there was any life to it. The characters are just slang talking, fist bumping stereotypes. This could have worked a lot better but personally I am just not a fan of live action scenes in games.
Once I was behind the driving seat the game really started to come into its own. Ventura Bay is a beautiful place with rain-soaked streets and the lighting from the city night-life. It does appear that you are stuck in a bit of a loop though as you will never witness daylight during your time here but when you witness all of the beauty that the place has to offer it really doesn’t seem that important. While driving around the streets you will notice that there are no pedestrians wandering around which unrealistic as it is, might not be a bad thing especially with my driving skills. This isn’t Grand Theft Auto after all but there was also a real lack of traffic on the roads excluding other players that are in your session which I feel could have been improved on to give a real feel of the city life and maybe add another level of skill to your driving while either racing or trying to evade the cops.
The audio in-game has been worked on hard which you can tell from every rev of the engine to the flat-out skid you perform. Need for Speed has certainly got this part right and sounded great when pumped through a headset. The soundtrack, while not totally my preferred scene, does go well with the fast paced races and helps you get in the zone even if you are just cruising around the city and taking a break.
When it comes down to the gameplay itself it all feels very smooth even if the AI of the other cars on the road could use some work, races often felt like they didn’t offer to much of a challenge to win. In all fairness I felt more competition from the cops when I was being chased down. The controls are smooth and easy to get along with even for players who are not accustomed to driving titles like myself. There does seem to be a very big focus on drifting which is something I have personally never been great with but again in Need for Speed it felt smooth and controlled. Everything that you do within the game will earn you points towards the five levels of the game: Speed, Build, Crew, Style and Outlaw. Outlaw is probably the part I enjoyed most. I have always enjoyed a good cop chase and they have really got it nailed in this to a point where you can actually get clever and out manoeuvre them during the chase.
For the petrol heads out there the garage is going to be where you spend most of your time. There are 5 spaces available to you for cars that you can own and tune. There is a nice selection of vehicles on offer and the changes that can be made to them are brilliant. I’m really not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to tuning and chose to go with the improvement of statistics on-screen rather than actually understanding what changes were happening but I could see how in-depth this could get and just how personal your car could become.
Overall Need for Speed is good fun. You will meet some interesting characters as you progress, some from the crew you are a part of and also some famous faces that you will more than likely recognise for the racing scene. For the racing and customisation fans you will not be disappointed if you can get past the live cut scenes and stereotypical acting. Give it a chance and let the game open up to you as you first get behind the wheel and you will see just what this game has to offer though sound, graphics and gameplay.