Run for the hills!
The concept fo Need For Speed The Run is both great and terrible. Driving from one end of America to another is a great idea and it keeps the game fresh with no repeated tracks. Having a douchbag of a lead character and a story you won’t care about equipped with quick time events, is quite the opposite. Read on for the full verdict…
The Run is both beautiful and ugly. The lighting is brilliant, the landscapes mouth-watering, and the things that happen around you can be brilliant chaos, such as rocks falling down a snowy mountain. On the other hand, object pop-in is a big problem for parts of the game. Upon starting up the game, after wishing Jack did get crushed in that crusher, you will notice bits of the environment popping in more than you could imagine. It’s not noticeable for a big portion of the game, but when it’s there, you will definitely notice it. I got so very lucky once, I was driving at top speed, winning the race, when all of a sudden a road block with police cars appeared right infront of my car. It couldn’t be seen any earlier. Luckily, I was in the right place where the gap in the road block was, if however, I had crashed into that road block that had spawned right infront of me, I’d be pretty annoyed. Fortunately, this only happened once, and game-wrecking moments like these, are a rare occurance.
On some stages, you just have to adore the visuals. At times, this arguably has the best lighting in all racing games. Zooming through a tunnel to see the bright orange lights flicker on and off is quite something, only to arrive at the end of the tunnel to reveal the bright, white mountains. It is breathtaking. However, these are only moments. You don’t get moments like this through all of the game, which prevents it from being a beautiful game, and instead a pretty one. Another great moment is when your racing through the autumn leaves, and you see the orange and yellow leaves fly out from under your car. It’s brilliant, and doesn’t happen in any other racing games. But it’s just a moment. It’s not consistent throughout.
It’s what you’d expect really. The cars sound like cars, and well… that’s pretty much it. Driving on various turfs such as dirt and snow adds a dose of new audio, but it’s nothing game changing. You get that nice echo when you go under tunnels, but theres not much to be said, apart from how quiet the audio is in multi-player. I headed into an on-line race, which was pretty fun (but more on that later), although there wasn’t much to hear apart from french 10 year olds singing down their headset. Unfortunately, the sound of the cars and the music, is constantly muted by people talking. This is the same with most games, but the in-game audio is nigh on silent when the silly Frenchies are singing in their headset.
This is a hard one to call, as many found the handling horrible and clunky, others loved it. I had almost no problems with it myself, it was easy to just pick up and play. Most of the cars feel the same bar the fact that some go faster than others. Nitrous is also available and is more likely to making you crash. Using the handbrake on u-turn seems to slow you down rather than speed you up. But it’s pretty standard stuff really. Nothing too special to write home about. There are a few moments where you’ll have to be much more precise with your control. Even though for much of the game you can just ram a barrier and be fine, on some tracks going off-road could cause you to crash and lose a few places.
The majority of the game is fairly easy, although there are a few difficulty spikes. At times I felt like a race was almost impossible to win, at others I was so far ahead of the opponents, you’d wonder why they were even in the race. There are a couple of places where you’ll get frustrated for sure, but these are few and far between. For the most part, you should find it an easy ride from start to finish. Plus you’ve got 10 flashbacks, you’ll probably only use a maximum of 4.
The QTE’s are, naturallly, a dumb move in a racing game. There not needed and don’t offer any sort of excitement. The only good they do is give your thumb a bit of excercise. They often come at the most unexpected times to. You think your watching a cut-scene so you’ve got your hands of the remote, and then, “press Y 20 times fast you lazy ass!”
To round up, the driving is solid and fun, it does’t bring anything new to the table, but it’s easy to pick up and play. The QTE bits are boring and not needed, but luckily, theres not many of them.
Eyebrows are raised (and tilted) at how the singe-player story is presented once you’ve completed it. There is no quick play mode, so you can’t just choose your favourite track and race on it, you’ll have to go through and entire stage to get to it, which could involve playign some of your worst and the hardest tracks. It’s a silly mistake by Black Box. Why is there no quick play mode? Why? The story ain’t long either, and should last you around 2 hours, which is pretty short, but when you take into account the way it never reapeats tracks and always offers something fresh, you can’t really complain.
The multi-player is pretty much the same as single. There is some fun mayhem to be had, and the connection copes well and I never experienced any lag, but I’ve already mentioned the problem with the audio. It’s fun for a little while, but it’s unlikely you’ll get addicted to it, as there are many better on-line games out there. I didn’t mind that I had a pre-owned copy, I got a two day free trial, that was enough for me anyway, and I probably would’ve played no more had I an on-line pass. Theres no reason to pay for one if you don’t have one.
Overall, The Run is a good game, and just that. It doesn’t offer anything new or game changing and is mostly not as addicting or challenging as Hot Pursuit, but Black Box have done a good job to get themselves back on track, and it’s by far their best NFS to date. The story sucks, the QTE’s suck, but the lighting can be brilliant and the racing is good fun. It’s not going to win any prizes for game of the year, nor is it for flop of the year.