Need for Speed has hit it’s fair share of speed bumps in the last few entries to this popular series. The recent effort by Criterion Games with ‘their’ version of Most Wanted had a good concept but ultimately did not provide enough with it’s cops vs. racers aspect. Need for Speed Rivals is set to change that by delivering a more fierce competition between the two faction.
So I was lucky to get some hands-on with the new racing title by Ghost Games – a newly inaugurated studio from EA. The focus of Rivals is to greatly emphasize the competition between the two factions while also increasing the penalty of which the racers will have to fear. Speed Points can be earned but also can be swiftly taken away as James Mouat – Lead Designer of the game explained. Increasing the penalty is what I’ve always wanted to see in the Need for Speed series as racers always seem to get let off with a slap on the wrist – like how the Australian law works. With this risk, it creates more competition and tension in Need for Speed than ever before. Racers fear the cops more than ever and the cops have more a taste for blood. This is how it should be.
Rivals felt like it was built upon the foundation of Criterion’s Most Wanted as it featured an open-world similar to that game. Instead, you’ll choose one of two career paths – Cop or Racer. My instincts told me to follow the road as a racer because f*ck authority but temptation to wreck others freedom was too heavy so I went as the cop.
Rivals then threw me into the car selection menu where you’ll have the ability to customize your pursuit car. The ever so sexy Mercedes C63 AMG was available for my selection but it came in different variants – from standard pursuit to undercover. I have this fetish for the AMG exhaust and thankfully the game featured that same V8 rumble you’ll hear on the streets. So it was to no surprise that I chose that car (also the fact there was only two to choose from)
The undercover version made the whole cop aspect far more thrilling than normal. Racers won’t recognise you at first so having the element of surprise grants you the ability to take the first shot. Since it’s fully open world, you can engage and disengage with pursuits at any time. Friends can also jump into your world and play simultaneously either as a cop or racer. At EA Australia’s HQ, I played in a LAN setup with other players – the tension in the room was high and so was the amount of swearing as we took each other down in intense pursuits.
Ghost Games has somehow found a way to create this desire of taking down racers. I usually hate cops but Rivals has turned me into the monster abusing authority on the roads. Who is the bad one now?
Need for Speed Rivals drifts into stores for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on the 21st November. Next-gen Xbox One and PS4 versions comes out on the 28th November.
*Preview on the PlayStation 4. Thanks to EA Australia for inviting me to their office and letting me eat their lollies.