"A Hot Pursuit Back Into the Spotlight"
The Need For Speed franchise has been around a long time, with plenty of good and bad entries to the series. However, it seems EA is really trying to push the Need For Speed name into the spotlight again and make it truly the king of all arcade racers. With the new film coming out next year (you have no idea how excited I am for it) and releasing this newest title, Need For Speed: Rivals, as a PS4 / XB1 launch title, they may be on the right track (no pun intended, I swear).
As the twentieth installment to the series, Need For Speed: Rivals will remind long time fans of NFS: Hot Pursuit. It’s a racing game about racers vs. cops. Racers are thrown into an open world, and being far from the car sims like Forza or Gran Turismo, players are ready to squeal tires on pavement and go fast right out of the gate without too much 'sim stuff' to bog them down. That means customization is minimal but still enough to not warrant a lazy feeling game. You’ll have Durability, control, and speed (among other abilities) to upgrade, however you’ll also be able to buy a slew of Pursiut Tech. What’s Pursuit Tech you ask? It's what makes NFS: Rivals more fun than you’d think. EMP devices and other 'stun tech', along with spike strips can all be employed to help escape the cops.
As expected, players can also play as the police, with the purpose of bringing down the racers. You’ll essentially bash and crash your car into the racers’ until they go down. Cop cars lack customization and are handed to you pre-made and generally the same strategy is used to take down the racers over and over again, so playing as a cop can get bit dry. Still, it’s a nice break from being a racer and really fun once you team up with other players to form your cop squad.
As a racer, you’ll be completing checkpoints with a very thin, almost non-existant story to pull you through race after race. The biggest purpose as a racer is to earn Speed Points (essentially the money you’ll use to upgrade and unlock new cars). The most frustrasting thing about being a racer is that the difficulty eventually becomes pretty high as the game goes on, despite the ability to upgrade and buy Pursuit Tech. Cops seem to increase ten-fold as your Speed Points increase, and no matter how fast you go, no matter what strategy you use, it seems police cars come out of the woodwork in troves to destroy you. It gets frustrating and unbalanced and yet, for some reason NFS: Rivals keeps you engaged and wanting more.
Connectivity here is hit or miss as far as finding others to play with. Sometimes you’ll see a squad of player-controlled cops, and it's satisfying to bring them all down. However sometimes it feels like you’re lost in a giant world with no others around to race with. When you do find a set of players, or a random encounter, NFS: Rivals all comes together with addicitive brilliance.
The world presented here (Redview County) is rich and detailed, and while NFS: Rivals looks good on both PS3 and PS4, there is barely a difference in graphics. Sure the PS4 version looks a bit better, and it's clearly a game that is most comfortable on the new gen, but PS3 owners don’t need to rush out to get a PS4 version to be happy. Xbox 360 and XB1 owners will see the same differences. Regardless, it’s a very nice looking game for both gens and nobody should be disappointed.
Need For Speed: Rivals is one of my favorite Need For Speed games yet, and it gets me excited for what the series can do, and hopefully will do in the future. It is a game made for being completely connected online, with an offline mode almost non-existant (so keep that in mind if you aren’t big on multiplayer, living world games). Regardless, if you are looking for a fun PS4 launch title and are open to arcade racers, then this is the perfect choice. NFS: Rivals is an absolute and unquestionalable must buy for NFS fans. Now lets hope the movie is just as good!
GameDynamo's Score for Need for Speed Rivals (PS4)
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