Published on December 15th, 2013 | by IceCube
REVIEW: Need For Speed: Rivals
Summary: Contrary to popular belief, this is not the same Need for Speed game you played last year. Or the year before that. Or the year before that. It’s an all-new Cops versus Racers driving experience.
Concept: As witnessed a lot with the past few entries to the series, you play a career as a cop or a racer, and drive around the map, featuring countryside and urban areas, picking chases with anyone you can find online roaming the roads. The success of this world depends a lot on the online community. You can jump into an ongoing community car chase at any time, but it takes a while to find one and when you do, you’re often screaming “hey, wait for me!” as you try to catch up to the pack. Or you’re facing the wrong way and need to turn around, which never happens as fast as you’d like. The formula doesn’t work very well.
Graphics: Scenery has a lot of depth, with cliff sides, country sides, distant mountains and forest filling most of the land you drive through. As pretty as it looks, it does get a little stale and repetitious after a while. There’s no venturing off the track for a scenic tour either, as that road barricade keeps you locked to the track. The cars also look nice with reflections bouncing off the exteriors, but there’s no steering wheel camera angle, and visually this game is falling behind what some other racing games are producing lately.
Gameplay: Driving is loaded with fast-paced action when you’re in the middle of a race, but roaming around looking for races can be a drag, and you spend more time doing the latter. There’s little challenge to handling, only the basic learning curve at the start of the game, as you can nail hairpin turns without the need for much breaking. Cars are locked progressively as you go, but there’s never much variety and your choices are fairly limited.
Sound: Music is loaded with a number of licensed dance and hip-hop tunes, which is fine if you’re into that sort of thing. Meanwhile there’s a woman forcing a seemingly-endless tutorial down our throats which is painful to sit through. Police sirens echo in tunnels and radio reports give a good indication when a race is in pursuit or over.
Multiplayer: The entire focus of the game is (once again) heavily focused on expanding the online community of the game. The previous few games was all about Autolog, a statistical system that records lap times and leader boards, etc. Autolog returns and this is also about putting a number of racers on the one map and having them race and chase as they see each other. The problem is, unless you know a lot of patient friends and get them all on the same server and lined-up for races – you end up with a mess of random drivers free-roaming cluelessly across the map wondering where the action is.
Awesomeness: In a perfect world this idea of joining pursuits as they occur sounds like a land of rainbows and chocolate waterfalls, but it doesn’t pay off. From the minute you turn it on you get a heavy dose of deja vu, and that feeling like they’ve run out of ideas. That’s okay in terms of the core cops vs racer concept, but the developer’s inability to get their mindset away from improving the online community leaves this game with almost zero innovation for the things that count within the game itself.
Final Word: This is a perfectly-fun racing game for the casual racer looking for some adrenaline-pumping cases between cop and racer. But we didn’t feel like this was any upgrade to the past few games in the series, but it really comes down to the player. If you enjoy the online community aspect of racing and don’t mind a bit of downtime and coordination between, this may be worth your time, but if you prefer a bit more structure and set goals there’s not enough difference in this game to warrant another purchase.
Score out of 5 Bugs
Summary: 1 = Poor, 2 = Average, 3 = Good, 4 = Great, 5 = Amazing