Need for Speed The Run Review
|EA Black Box
|November 18th, 2011 (UK)
|Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
Need for Speed is another series which is suffering from what I have coined the 'FIFA effect' - the need to release game after game, year after year, in order to keep the shareholders happy. While this means that new games keep coming out to sate the appetites of wannabe street racers, even the least cynical gamer may being to wonder how they keep making them so quickly.
In a sentence: developers re-release the same game with a different skin and premise, change the box art - and rake in the cash. That's not to say that Need for Speed: The Run is a bad title - it's not - it just doesn't really live up to its expectations.
Sitting the gamer in the driving britches of street racer Jack Rourke, The Run tasks the gamer with racing from New York to San Francisco, taking on opponents, natural disasters and mafia hitmen on the way. Jack, you see, has got himself in deep with the mob, and the only way he can buy his way out is to make The Run - and get away with the cash prize. And that's basically it for the plot.
While there is a little love story going on with a female character, the majority of the cut-scenes feature Jack yelling, running or driving, with little explanation or character development.
This is a shame, as a decent plot could have been what set The Run apart from its predecessors. The game itself is still a solid arcade racer, however - it still ticks all the right boxes, even though those boxes have been ticked innumerable times before.
The sweeping scope of the game allows for a wide variety of tracks, with the courses taking in snowy mountainsides, deserts, crowded, neon-lit streets and wide tundra, all of which are brought to life as you speed on through.
The action is pleasantly varied, with some races adding in extra challenges such as police roadblocks or pursuit vehicles, or bonus points if you manage to boost past four racers, or ram five into a wall.
The selection of cars on offer is also varied. While they are mostly variations on familiar sports cars, there's also a decent selection of muscle cars and city roadsters, and all the expected options for tuning up and turning out a decent roadster. On the road in the main campaign you can change cars at gas stations, but the restricted nature of the system means you're often left with the wrong car for the race you're working on if you're not prepared - and believe me, trying to race down a windswept mountain track in a sports car is a total nightmare.
The singleplayer also features some much-hyped on-foot sections, although these are played almost entirely through scripted quick-time events, and serve very little purpose - or are even very fun.
Outside the singleplayer, the game also offers a robust multiplayer mode, which includes battle-races and standard racing. The matchmaking is a bit spotty at times, and the game's stability is often wobbly when things really get going - I've been kicked out of a few races right when I was about to win because of rage-quitters, which is - of course - an issue.
Graphically, The Run looks pretty good. The developers have taken pains to make the environments you're racing through look fantastic; even as Need for Speed's dubious motion blurring hides the action behind a filter.
The snow bouncing off your windscreen looks cold to the touch, and the damage inflicted on your car as you slam into the other racers is almost enough to make you cry.
That said, the animation in the pointless cut scenes leaves a lot to be desired, despite the stellar work of the voice actors. The characters hardly seem to move their lips, which is disappointing. There are also a few game-breaking problems.
Unlike free-roaming titles like Burnout: Paradise, The Run is very much a straight-line race across the States - and this is unfortunately reflected in the action. If you stray from the path, at all, you're respawned back on the track.
This is very distracting, and the game is unforgiving when it comes to corners - the slightest deviation from the prescribed course can cost you valuable seconds. The game's loading times are also incredibly long, which breaks the immersion heavily.
Overall, The Run - while a reasonable game in its own right - is eclipsed by some of the other games in the Need for Speed series. It's not strong enough to stand on its own, and for that reason is probably one for just the hardcore NFS fans alone.
- Great graphics
- Reliable, sturdy gameplay
Not so good stuff
- Looooooooong load times
- Disappointing plot
- Quick-time events are the devil
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