The NFS franchise tries to conquer those gamers every year, who has a V8 engine in their hearts’ place. This year, the situation is a little more different, and for several reasons…
After last year’s NFS episode (the Most Wanted remake), I was thinking about that 2012’s annual speedster was similar to Burnout: Paradise. Criterion Games’ production wasn’t awful, don’t get me wrong – I just had a feeling while playing the aforementioned game again that 2013’s result, Rivals seemed to bring back some elements from the past.
Rivals tries to be successful with a two-in-one formula. The chance to succeed is given. And not only because that it’s literally a line between two console generations (next to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it was also released for the PS4 – released on December 13 in Hungary – and the Xbox One – which will officially be supported by Microsoft from September); but also for the fact that it’s trying to bring the term „community gaming” (which is something that Nintendo already have been trying to push forward with the Wii U) to a new level.
So two halves, both having their own ladder of progression and specific items. If you want to be Redview County’s most successful cop, choose the „dark” side. But if you’re born to race (which adds the extra adrenalin dose from escaping the cops), pick the racer side. Pick your poison, pretty much. You can always switch back to the other side.
But still… it feels like the mixture is old. Sure, escaping the donut destroyers isn’t going the same way as it did last year. Most Wanted gave you the chance to hide, yet in Rivals, the best driving, the higher average speed and getting as far as possible will give you the chance to escape. One mistake and you might even see this process take an extra five minutes… or, you might even get caught, and you’ll lose your multiplier.
Okay, so how do we upgrade? There’s always going to be a list of tasks for you to accomplish called the Speedlist. If you fill the checklist, you’ll earn new cars. As a racer, Rivals will ask you to score 12 thousand points, win a duel (just blink at them when they come in the other lane), smash into other cars while using your turbo, and when you get everything done, the score will come. And this is just a small example of a Speedlist, there’s a lot more for you to discover and complete. And as a cop? Arrest everyone in a race, complete the race, and so on. About arresting, the amount of points depend on the level we are on.
There won’t be batches of dollar bills in Rivals, instead you’ll earn SP (Speed Points in short). That is what you can spend on upgrading your car(s). You want a turbo? Go ahead, plop it in. Better car? Like that sexy Ferrari that you’d like to put your virtual arse into? This can be done.
You can customize your car: choose the colour, the rim, the stickers. There’s also a chance to tune your car’s maximum speed, its acceleration, or its chassis, if you’re a racer. The Pursuit Tech (having two slots, both can be separately upgraded) is your defense on the road. Nitrous, spike traps, EMP – it all depends on you what you want to use in your vehicle. It can be a very nasty sight, when there’s a cop running right behind us, preparing to push us into the next wall nearby… and then you drop the spike trap, which shreds his tires – if you’re lucky, you might even get him into a neat little spin, ending his pursuit for a while! Of course, this is just temporary due to regeneration, but it isn’t much of a problem.
Rivals creates old things and produce new simultaneously. We could look at this NFS episode as a hybrid of two games. This line of thought can be backed up, if we think about the developers. Ghost Games – based in Sweden – is basically formed by Criterion Games members, and their knowledge helped to create the mixture of two games, because the missing free roam from Most Wanted (this was in Hot Pursuit earlier, mind you!) was combined with the appearance of cops, and the bigger, more detailed world brought over from Hot Pursuit.
Mostly it is a success. It’s exciting when you have over 95.000 points that might be flushed down the drain, as you’re reaching the highest – the seventh – scale of pursuit level. Oh yes, it feels like a Grand Theft Auto, but still, it isn’t. As we’re more and more active on the roads of Redview, our skin will be more of value for the cops… so watch out for your multipliers!
Mind you, scoring them points isn’t only achievable by completing your Speedlists. Almost everything throws points after you, and this shows in the lists too. If you can’t get good at using drafts, you might have a problem with doing it for a whole minute. However if you drift a lot, you can rack up lots of points. Avoiding the oncoming traffic? You’ll get a small reward. And there are the speed cameras scattered across Redview as well… However, there aren’t as crazy things to do like going through signs as in Most Wanted (they were promoting Electronic Arts’ developers and games, like Dead Space 3)…
Gets tired after a while
Frostbite (as seen in Battlefield 4) does its job here as well. Don’t be surprised if you’ll get flushed by rain after coming out of a corner (don’t think of as monotone changes as in Underground 2), because technically it can be done, and it WILL happen to you too! The rain actually has an effect on your driving, so it’s not only a graphical extra. Be careful with the exit of the corners (you might get some harsh wheelspin), and you’ll be okay. Thankfully the speed isn’t a problem – it runs absolutely beautiful, whether I’m up on the snowy roads, or down by the lakes.
But the game itself does lose itself after a while. Barely into the two digits of Speedlists, and I already got almost everything unlocked, same goes for the cop part. The single player itself seems a little lacklustre to me.
However, the game is tuned mainly for multiplayer! If you go online, you won’t have an easy time as you just had offline. And speaking of being easy – it’s absolutely simple to jump into an online match, if you paid for PS Plus. You might have a lot of fun with racers like you from around the world. This is where Rivals tries to make up for its minimally, yet still visible lack of polish on the single player. This game is good, but only in small doses.
+ Frostbite 3 – it’s not bad!
+ Cop – to be, or not to be?
+ It has a good feeling…
– …but only in smaller doses
– Single player feels a little basic
– Minimal customization of cars