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Published on December 11th, 2013 | by Don Parsons

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One Hour In: Need for Speed: Rivals

The Need for Speed franchise has been a favorite of mine for years. Every year, the newest iteration is generally at the top of my “most wanted” list. Most of the time, I love them. Every once in awhile, I’m a little disappointed but still enjoy the game. In 2013, I played the worst offering Electronic Arts has published to date – Need for Speed: Rivals.

Disregard the narrative Rivals tries to weave into the game, that is something I have grown used to over the years. Need for Speed: The Run was the first and only title to get a “pass” in the storytelling department. Regardless, every year, there has to be some absurd story written in. That’s okay, though. Unlike the rest of Rivals, the loose plot bits can be ignored.

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I remember earlier in the year, how there was talk of customization being in Need for Speed: Rivals. Of course I got my hopes up, which was a mistake on my part. Need for Speed Underground 2 is still one of my favorite racing games. I didn’t expect that level of customization, but what I got with Rivals was an embarrassment for car tuners. The racing cars (not to be confused with the cop cars) can have their color changed and a few decals slapped on them. That’s it. Functional modifications, like more power, better suspension, and the like are present, but at the rate I was unlocking better cars I didn’t care to upgrade what I had.

The car list, when combined, looks good. There’s a lot of exotic cars, as well as my beloved Lexus LFA and Nissan GT-R. But my two favorite cars in the game (mentioned prior) are Cop-only cars. What the Hell is that? In the grand scheme of things, I actually sort of liked the Cop mode, but the car list this year felt weak because of it being split between the two factions.

Those two things could seem like frivolous, personal preference complaints. But there is absolutely no reason on God’s green Earth that when playing in a private world, offline, the Pause function does not work. I don’t know if the developers just thought, “Hey, this online mode is a lot of fun, right guys? I mean, seriously, who the **** is going to play offline? I mean, let’s make it an option, but let’s not waste time making that mode a viable one” or what, but I was just baffled the first time I tried to pause the game in the middle of a race, only to watch myself collide into a tree. I was pissed, nay, furious when that happened.

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Online would be fun as a racer, except in order to keep the points you rack up while racing and doing things, you have to bank them at a mod shop. Let me tell you, when I lost 50,000+ Speed points because I was t-boned by a random car while turning around I almost broke my controller when I watched all of those points go down the drain. I fail to understand the brilliancy in this mechanic. I guess in a weird, round-about way, it’s supposed to make you more cautious and actually be worried about those around you. But even when playing in a private game, it just takes the fun out of the game. One of the pillars of Need for Speed is unpredictability, and with that being a dominant characteristic of Rivals, having the chance to piss away a few dozen Speed points (the games currency, by the way) just takes the fun out of the game.

Rivals is a beautiful game. The cars look amazing and the physics feel fantastic. Those are the only things going for this game, though, and neither are enough to coast the game to any sort of “Game of the Year” list in 2013. On the bright side, the series can’t go anywhere but up next year, right?

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About the Author

got into podcasting in 2007, and transitioned into writing in late 2008. In late 2011, he went from blogging to writing for a small site called Vagary.tv. Don attended E3 for Vagary.tv in 2012. Now, Don is one-fourth of the foundation of Critically Sane.



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