After a whopping 21 games and a surprisingly successful movie, the Need For Speed franchise returns in an attempt to reboot the series and bring it back to its underground roots.
Developers Ghost decided that the long-running successful franchise needed renewing and so we have the simply-titled Need For Speed. What do you need for a reboot? Better graphics? A bigger world with more roads? A decent story? After Need For Speed Rivals which was, in essence, a good game, I asked myself how could they possibly reboot it, and why?
Well they tried, and failed.
The story stars you as an up and coming rad racer and quite a popular guy apparently, who wants to become big in the underground circuit and be noticed by the racing big wigs. You are a mute throughout the game for some reason, but your new-found group of mates however are quite the showmen, and women.
Their acting is so over the top, I thought I was in a low budget pantomime. Spike and Amy tend to be the ones with the most screen time and certainly are the most animated.
The cool thing about the story is the use of FMV cutscenes. Its a good move. They have a place in today’s standard of gaming and seeing your car, however modified, in the background of some of the cut scenes is really slick.
On the road, things are familiar. Missions take on one of five categories: Speed, Style, Crew, Build, and Outlaw each from the wannabe movie stars.
Speed missions require you to put your foot down while Style may require you to use your skills to gain a high score. Everything you do earns points. Drive on the wrong side of the road, drive without crashing, evade police, hit a lamppost, anything! There is always a feeling a progress.
The problem is, its all been done before, and better. Games like Rivals and The Crew take on a similar approach. They are both online-only meaning other players are in the game world with you to compete against if you so wish, and the game world itself is big but empty and lifeless.
With a name like Need For Speed, I didn’t expect this game to be so slow. Cars rarely ramp up speed so fast that I had to step on the breaks to turn a corner. Even police chases didn’t give me any feeling of exhilaration or tension. Its done better elsewhere.
The visuals tend to be a bit dulled down too. There are some nifty looking scenes here but nothing breathtaking. During my time in Ventura Bay, I stopped time and time again to take in its sights but as previously mentioned, the city is lifeless.
There are no pedestrians or heavy traffic to avoid. It’s all like a ghost town. I didn’t feel attached to its scenery. Its beautifully detailed, don’t get me wrong. Neon lights soak up the cityscape, and Ghost has taken full advantage of the Frostbite 3 engine.
There is plenty to upgrade on your machine. Pistons, engine block, tires, all the visual upgrades you can think of. All of it gives your car that bit of an edge over the competition. Do you want to drift easier? Lift off the traction. Want better grip? Pile more on. The choice is all yours. I loved the modifications that turned my standard Honda Civic into a roaring behemoth.
But Need For Speed isn’t the reboot the franchise needed. In fact it has all been done before and better.
Aside from the beautiful visuals, there is nothing new here. Racing feels familiar and the missions are recycled. With games like Rivals and The Crew, this reboot feels unnecessary, but great use of FMV cutscenes is a nice bonus.