Need for Speed: Rivals is the first I’ve played since the original Need for Speed, a game that stands obscured in the rainbonic rave of ghastliness that was the nineties.
Twenty-one instalments since, you could say the series has come a long, long, long way. It’s one of the first titles to use DICE’s supergorgeous Frostbite 3 engine – and the result is what’s known in the trade as “holy [redacted]”.
But we knew this game would be beautiful. We want to know is how well it drives.
First off, yes, there is a story – but by the chest hair of MacGyver, just pretend it doesn’t exist. If you can imagine the sort of roid-raging boredom of an amateur Fast & Furious reenactment, you’re halfway there.
Setting aside that and the awful PC interface (I actually had to tab out and google how to quit the game), Rivals is brilliant. Once you’ve made your career choice – street-racer or cop – the game sets you loose in true sandbox style, letting you pick the challenges you want to get involved in.
The best part is a feature called AllDrive, a sort of singleplayer–multiplayer mashup in which humans mingle with AI-controlled vehicles. It is possible go full singleplayer, but with AllDrive the stakes just feel higher: races can become massively dramatic, complete with police helicopters and roadblocks amid full-on procedural storms. It’s glorious.
AllDrive has its downside, though – more than once I got dumped from a game because of a connection hiccup. I lost all the cash (“Speedpoints”) I’d accrued, which is an unforgivable design oversight; AllDrive is punted as a “seamless” blend of singleplayer and multiplayer, but it ends up being about as seamless as a (virtual) car accident sometimes.
Still, by Jove, it’s splendid fun. And that’s coming from somebody who thinks cars and racing are all a big joke. (Don’t hit me.)
Need for Speed: Rivals is available on Origin for R399,99 (20% off at the time of writing).
Developer: Ghost Games • Publisher: EA • Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 & One, PlayStation 3 & 4
Check out the trailer for Need for Speed: Rivals below: