First look at the new “Need for Speed” gameplay

First look at the new “Need for Speed” gameplay

Written by Staff Writer

03 Nov, 2015 | 6:01 pm

The Need For Speed series has always been something of a chameleon. At various points, it’s been a police chase simulator, a realistic track racer, and even a Cannonball Run-style action movie on wheels. This latest Need For Speed follows in the footsteps of the first Fast and Furious film by exploring the white-knuckled world of illegal street racing. While it’s not a completely novel approach for the series (Underground covered tuner car culture over a decade ago), it does open a few new avenues for Need For Speed’s arcadey but nuanced style of racing–most notably in its progression and customization systems.

The game is far from perfect, but it is, at points, truly exceptional. Its jaw-dropping visuals, adrenaline-pumping audio, and highly-customizable handling make screaming around the darkened streets of Ventura Bay an intense thrill. The sense of ownership that comes with tuning a single ride to perfection rather than simply grabbing the flashiest vehicle available proved tremendously rewarding.

Even just the breathtaking speed of upgraded vehicles makes the driving in Need For Speed absolutely gripping. This foundation of gratifying gameplay anchors the experience, while the rest of Need For Speed’s specifics run the gamut from equally outstanding to smash-your-controller frustrating.

Take the goofy yet oddly endearing narrative: the live action cutscenes contain hit after hit of stilted acting, awkward dialogue, and unwarranted fistbumps without advancing anything resembling a plot. Weirdly, none of these scenes actually take place in cars, and for some reason, every single one starts with someone arriving and ends with someone else leaving, with maybe 30 seconds of conversation in between.

The game world presents its own issues but also holds up to scrutiny. Need For Speed is set in a completely open world modeled primarily after Los Angeles, with four main boroughs and several more subsections ranging from hilly switchbacks to tangled highways to tight urban corridors.

It’s populated with event markers you can tackle in any order, giving the campaign a casual setup the belies the intensity of its challenges. I somehow found myself in a few of the same areas over and over again, but the level of detail, variety, and overall believability made the city an immersive high-speed playground, even with its perpetually rain-slick streets and suspiciously sparse traffic.

Aside from those semi-rare civilian vehicles and the occasional squad car–which are still a joy to outrun, by the way–Need For Speed’s roster of vehicles includes the usual mix of Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Ferraris. But remember, this is a game about street racing. While you can eventually buy the really high-end stuff, you’ll spend most of the campaign gradually unlocking better components and aesthetic upgrades for your less exotic tuner-mobile.

Visually, your options are robust: change the color, design a livery, add aftermarket spoilers–if you can picture it, you can usually create it, which makes standing out online fun and easy. Components like engine blocks and suspension systems, on the other hand, are slightly less impressive.

Generally, the more expensive the part, the better your car will run. So if you want to upgrade your ignition, for example, you basically select that menu option and scroll right until you find a part you’ve both unlocked and can afford. There’s really no strategy to it, which makes the whole process feel rote.

However, this obsession eventually got me into trouble. Need For Speed features a wide variety of events, including point-based drift competitions, traditional circuit races, and even Gymkhana events. This mix created some welcome gameplay variety, but it also led to that wall I eventually smashed into.

The game’s unhelpful navigation system puts you at a further disadvantage. During race events, blue arrows appear on the ground to guide you from checkpoint to checkpoint because, unlike an actual racetrack, the course will never be obvious. Unfortunately, this usually means you receive no warning before reaching a turn unless you’re constantly diverting your eyes down to the mini-map. And even then, it’s always night in Need For Speed, which makes certain obstacles like barriers and guardrails more difficult to spot.

I did notice a small but forgivable handful of framerate drops during my playtime on the PS4, and the game’s always-online setup meant I could never truly pause the game. If you ever need to quickly pause the action to, say, answer your phone or stop your cat from destroying your furniture, you simply can’t unless you’re willing to lose whatever event you’re playing. I was also disconnected from EA’s servers anytime I was away from the game for even a brief period, which led to the unnecessary hassle of reconnecting just to continue playing by myself.

Still, none of that–including the unfortunate difficulty spike I experienced–was enough to ruin Need For Speed’s stunning world, rewarding progression system, and exhilarating driving mechanics. Your move, Vin Diesel.

The Need For Speed series has always been something of a chameleon. At various points, it’s been a police chase simulator, a realistic track racer, and even a Cannonball Run-style action movie on wheels. This latest Need For Speed follows in the footsteps of the first Fast and Furious film by exploring the white-knuckled world of illegal street racing. While it’s not a completely novel approach for the series (Underground covered tuner car culture over a decade ago), it does open a few new avenues for Need For Speed’s arcadey but nuanced style of racing–most notably in its progression and customization systems.

The game is far from perfect, but it is, at points, truly exceptional. Its jaw-dropping visuals, adrenaline-pumping audio, and highly-customizable handling make screaming around the darkened streets of Ventura Bay an intense thrill. The sense of ownership that comes with tuning a single ride to perfection rather than simply grabbing the flashiest vehicle available proved tremendously rewarding.

Even just the breathtaking speed of upgraded vehicles makes the driving in Need For Speed absolutely gripping. This foundation of gratifying gameplay anchors the experience, while the rest of Need For Speed’s specifics run the gamut from equally outstanding to smash-your-controller frustrating.

Take the goofy yet oddly endearing narrative: the live action cutscenes contain hit after hit of stilted acting, awkward dialogue, and unwarranted fistbumps without advancing anything resembling a plot. Weirdly, none of these scenes actually take place in cars, and for some reason, every single one starts with someone arriving and ends with someone else leaving, with maybe 30 seconds of conversation in between.

The game world presents its own issues but also holds up to scrutiny. Need For Speed is set in a completely open world modeled primarily after Los Angeles, with four main boroughs and several more subsections ranging from hilly switchbacks to tangled highways to tight urban corridors.

It’s populated with event markers you can tackle in any order, giving the campaign a casual setup the belies the intensity of its challenges. I somehow found myself in a few of the same areas over and over again, but the level of detail, variety, and overall believability made the city an immersive high-speed playground, even with its perpetually rain-slick streets and suspiciously sparse traffic.

Aside from those semi-rare civilian vehicles and the occasional squad car–which are still a joy to outrun, by the way–Need For Speed’s roster of vehicles includes the usual mix of Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Ferraris. But remember, this is a game about street racing. While you can eventually buy the really high-end stuff, you’ll spend most of the campaign gradually unlocking better components and aesthetic upgrades for your less exotic tuner-mobile.

Visually, your options are robust: change the color, design a livery, add aftermarket spoilers–if you can picture it, you can usually create it, which makes standing out online fun and easy. Components like engine blocks and suspension systems, on the other hand, are slightly less impressive.

Generally, the more expensive the part, the better your car will run. So if you want to upgrade your ignition, for example, you basically select that menu option and scroll right until you find a part you’ve both unlocked and can afford. There’s really no strategy to it, which makes the whole process feel rote.

However, this obsession eventually got me into trouble. Need For Speed features a wide variety of events, including point-based drift competitions, traditional circuit races, and even Gymkhana events. This mix created some welcome gameplay variety, but it also led to that wall I eventually smashed into.

The game’s unhelpful navigation system puts you at a further disadvantage. During race events, blue arrows appear on the ground to guide you from checkpoint to checkpoint because, unlike an actual racetrack, the course will never be obvious. Unfortunately, this usually means you receive no warning before reaching a turn unless you’re constantly diverting your eyes down to the mini-map. And even then, it’s always night in Need For Speed, which makes certain obstacles like barriers and guardrails more difficult to spot.

I did notice a small but forgivable handful of framerate drops during my playtime on the PS4, and the game’s always-online setup meant I could never truly pause the game. If you ever need to quickly pause the action to, say, answer your phone or stop your cat from destroying your furniture, you simply can’t unless you’re willing to lose whatever event you’re playing. I was also disconnected from EA’s servers anytime I was away from the game for even a brief period, which led to the unnecessary hassle of reconnecting just to continue playing by myself.

Still, none of that–including the unfortunate difficulty spike I experienced–was enough to ruin Need For Speed’s stunning world, rewarding progression system, and exhilarating driving mechanics. Your move, Vin Diesel.

Official launch trailer:

First 15 minutes of the Gameplay:

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Source: Gamespot

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