Need for Speed Rivals – Does EA’s racing series have anything left?

Sat, 06/01/2013 - 20:40 -- mamessier

Need for Speed is one of the most successful racing franchises of all time and it has been able to reinvent itself plenty of times with several sub-series that have become fan favorites (Underground, Most Wanted, Shift, etc.). The latest game offerings from the series haven't been abysmal, but let's just say that experts are expecting more quality, sales and award-winning review scores than what we've witnessed in recent years from NFS. Now for Xbox One, we'll be dealing with a whole new animal with Need for Speed Rivals. Well, that's what it seems at first glance because EA is actually mixing in plenty of elements from its other sub-series in order to create this new title.

First, Rivals will be based on the rivalry between racers and cops, so there’s your dose of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit right there. Players will be able to jump from one side of the rivalry to the other. Each side will also come with its own set of items and upgrades, such as jammers and electromagnetic pulses for easier evasion and shockwaves, roadblocks, or even helicopter support to bust the most rebellious drivers. You will even be able to warn your friends of incoming cops with the Need for Speed Network. Ever since I put my hands on Autolog, I’ve never doubted the ability of NFS to provide good interactivity, so this should be good.

Then, EA has announced that Rivals would take place in an open environment which would, amongst other things, seamlessly switch between single-player and multiplayer, a feature that smells quite like Need for Speed World. Need for Speed Rivals Xbox OneFor those unfamiliar with it, Need for Speed World is the series' attempt at the free-to-play PC market launched in 2010 which allows players to freely roam through a huge city, attend multiplayer events, accumulate (and buy) upgrades as well as different RPG elements, and let's not forget the ability to trigger pursuits with cops as you dangerously drive through some neighborhoods. According to the current description, Rivals will improve on some of those concepts. For example, there won’t be any lobbies or waiting time involved in and multiplayer races should be instantaneous.

All in all, Rivals sounds to me like full-featured version of World for the next-generation platforms. The racing aspect in World was significantly lowered and "dumbed-down" if you will to provide simple and accessible gameplay, so I'm predicting Rivals will provide World's possibilities, but through a full next-generation engine (which is by no means a small task). Of course, after a $60 entry price, we expect the microtransactions to be all but gone (at least not at a level comparable to World’s), but let's keep our fingers-crossed in case EA has evil plan to make us pay more to enjoy this new open world. That’s my take on it for now, but let’s wait until E3 to get more details on how this game will turn out.

So far, this Rivals game seems to be the right and best bet for EA – going ahead with a new title to start fresh, mixing in some of the best elements of the previous games and pushing things to a new level with the Xbox One. After all, some players are only willing to play NFS for pursuits with cops, while some others are all about modified cars (Underground fans), so pleasing those guys right off the bat will only enlarge the player base. Also, the rivalry theme between cops and street racers should be able to spark good interest and a healthy dose of controversy in the media, which is only more likely to bring the series back to new heights.

So what are you wishing to see in Rivals? Have you had enough of open-world racing games like Burnout Paradise and Need for Speed World or do you want some more? Do you want the series to focus more on the actual races or the world surrounding them?

Gameplay Footage Released, Second-Screen Experience Mentioned
More information for this game comes in the form of some much needed gameplay footage, and the results aren't disappointing. In this latest demo, the weather was especially impressive and the graphics on all by themselves managed to make an impression on people.

The seamlessly accessible races were clearly displayed in this footage with a bunch of cars appearing from the right corner and bam... the race was on. Then, came a switch in position with the player being in control of the cops, and while there wasn't much more to notice beside a chopper (which we’ll get to in a minute), the water splashes, the street lights and speed through the darkness as the sun was gone, made the chase even more dramatic.

Referring to the comparison of the original article with NFS World, this gameplay footage clearly proves that the racing engine is much more involved than most of the MMO racers out there. Great drifting could be seen in the footage and we’re far from the simple NFS World driving here. The whole thing is still arcade though, especially when it comes to collisions, as the cars keep their speed and don’t lose too much momentum off bumps.

In the meantime, it has been mentioned in this article on IGN.com that Rivals should include the option of controlling a police chopper through a second-screen device. Very interesting. It’s pretty much a known fact that NFS fans are hard to please, but Rivals has some good things going for it so far. Stay tuned for more.

Article by - Marc-André Messier
Insert Date: 06/01/2013

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