So this weekend EA hosted an open beta trial for Need for Speed World; their new MMO racing game. Here are my impressions to my first few hours with the game:
This game feels a lot like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, minus the story, and thrown online. The map, graphics style, and police pursuits are all nearly identical to Most Wanted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing since that was my favorite Need for Speed game. It's actually kind of nice to be driving around the map and recognize things from a game I loved to play five years ago.
I have yet to race against other players in a multiplayer match (I'll be honest: I'm a little shy when it comes to online multiplayer games), but I did find the single player races to be pretty exciting. The AI is just difficult to make it a challenge, but not too difficult where it becomes a frustration. I also liked actually racing the other cars, whereas in past Need for Speed games I'd get ahead of them within the first 30 seconds, then spend the rest of the race increasing the distance between them and I. In Need for Speed World, not only are they constantly on my tail, but I find myself struggling to hold first place for too long at times.
There aren't many powerups in the game right now, but the ones that are seem very balanced. I found that they only made races more interesting, and was glad to see they weren't a constant frustration. The 'traffic magnet' powerup gave me some trouble in the beginning, but once I learned how to avoid the cars, it wasn't too much of an issue. My only complaint about the powerups is that the 'nos' powerup doesn't feel like it does anything besides make the screen blurry.
Pursuits feel a little broken in this game. It's the exact same system we saw five years ago in Most Wanted, with no improvements (that I noticed, anyway). The worst part about the system is that cops can bust you even when your still moving at a decent speed, as long as they're touching you, or were touching you recently. This is the only part of the game that I found frustrating at times. I also didn't like that it's nearly impossible to lose the cops without using one of the destructable objects to crush the cops, then takng an off-road shortcut. The cops can drive a lot faster than you, and they spawn at such a ridiculous rate that just outrunning them isn't really an option. You have to destroy all of the cops at once, then find somewhere to hide (as far as I know, the evasion spots that were in Most Wanted aren't in World. In Most Wanted, these spots allowed you to hide from the police better, and increased the rate that your evasion meter filled.). Even with these issues, the cop chases can be a bit exciting at times, and it's a nice little something to break up the otherwise constant racing.
Usually I hate the idea of microtransactions, but it doesn't really bother me in this game. None of the items you can purchase with real-life money offers too much of an in-game advantage to make things unbalanced, so it doesn't disrupt the gameplay. For a great game like this, which only costs $20, has no monthly fee to play, and will be getting updates in the future (not sure how many, or how frequently, but they did say they had plans to release more content for it), I really wouldn't mind buying $5 of Boost points every month or so to support the developers.
With such a large city to drive around, I found it fun to take a break from racing every once in a while and just take a cruise. It's nice to see other racers also driving around the city, although a bit ugly to see a cluster of them in the middle of the street around all of the event markers. Would've been nice if they could've moved the event markers to parking lots or other off-road areas. The only time other players can get a little annoying is when they crash into another vehicle, or one of the destructable objects, and it ends up in your way. You can drive right through the other players in the game while free-roaming, but they can still make you crash by throwing something in your path. I didn't find this too annoying though.
Well, it's been a couple weeks since E3 2010 has ended, and the excitement around the event and its announcements is starting to die down. I know you've probably seen several lists and what-not similar to this already, but I'm hoping I can get one more in before we officially move on. So, let's get right to it! My top five games from E3 2010 are:
#5 - Goldeneye 007
An all-time favorite game for nearly every gamer who was around to experience this masterpiece. I was expecting them to re-release the original game eventually, but building onto it, improving it, and adding online multiplayer? This was definitely a surprise, and I am very excited to see what they've done with the game. Working on a game like this means peoples' expectations will be very high, as they should be. I just hope they were very careful not to mess up any of the elements that made this a nearly perfect game so many years ago.
#4 - Driver: San Francisco
Although the last couple Driver games weren't too successful, back when Driver 2 was released, it was the only game of it's kind. Back then, it was fun to pop that game in, steal whatever car you wanted to, and drive around the city. The story was weak, so the main attraction was the free-roam driving (this was before the Grand Theft Auto, and other similar games, took over). It'll take a lot more to impress gamers today, but it looks like they've figured that out. I'm very glad to see they've focused on making the main attraction, once again, on the driving, and really tried to make that aspect alone stand out from other games, be original, and yet still fun.
#3 - Donkey Kong Country Returns
When I was a kid, the Donkey Kong Country games were my favorite games. I still love playing the old DKC games, and have been hoping to see an announcement for another Donkey Kong game ever since Donkey Kong 64 (albeit not Donkey Konga). I was very surprised, and even more excited, when I saw this game announced at E3 2010. I can't wait to try this game out!
#2 - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
As we all know, even to this day The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still considered, by a large portion of gamers, to be one of the best, if not the best game ever made. Ever since then, I haven't been a huge fan of the Zelda games. Majora's Mask was very complex, Wind Waker was too cartoonish for me to get into, and I didn't really like transforming into a wolf in Twilight Princess. I'm hoping Nintendo is done experimenting with those kinds of things, and will return to what made Ocarina of Time so great.
#1 - Portal 2
If you haven't already, I highly recommend checking out some of the recent videos for this game, which show off some of the new puzzles and challenges Valve are testing for this game. It's really quite impressive how much they've improved what made the first game so great, and I am very excited to learn more about this game as we approach the release date in 2011.
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