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:
OverallThis 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.
RacingI 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.
PowerupsThere 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.
Police PursuitsPursuits 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.
MicrotransactionsUsually 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.
Free-RoamingWith 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.