Thursday, 19 November 2015

Need For Speed: PS4 Review

Need For Speed: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4
Released by EA Games

Need For Speed has laid low recently.

After a relatively lacklustre film, the franchise kind of skidded off the road and saw other racers overtake it in its quest for world gaming domination.

The likes of Forza and its arcade spin-off Forza: Horizon, DriveClub and The Crew all came and cocked a snook at the Need For Speed series, threatening to leave them in their wake.

But a recent closed BETA of the new Need for Speed from Ghost Games demonstrated this series wasn’t afraid to get dirty and had embraced some of the bits of the other series and built on them

This latest can simply be described as a mix of elements from Fast and Furious via The Crew’s street racing vibe with lots of arcade sensibility thrown in for good measure.

In this reboot of the 20 year old franchise, you take the role of a racer who falls in with a group of street racers. Taken into their gang, you get to hurtle around Ventura Bay, a made up place which is similar to California by night, burning rubber, taking part in challenges and races and upgrading your ride and customising as you hit the roads.

Need for Speed is a different game from the franchise, one that revels in its point of difference – live-action cut scenes (which seem ripped from the likes of the Fast and Furious and are all from first player perspective).

These scenes are nicely put together, capture some of the headiness of the road, but are unskippable – even if they do offer the thrill of some real-life racing stars.  They are a tad long, but given the investment it makes sense to use the actors to their abilities and inject a boyracer ethos that’s always been apparent in the series.

Equally, your phone will ring a lot within the game as this group of disparate racers come together; with banter, offers of races or just for a natter, it never stops as you race around Ventura Bay in the constant night-time.

It’s an odd stipulation that EA has insisted that it all takes place online, given that the map populates with only a few drivers here and there – to be honest, when I chose to play the servers were quiet and hardly anyone was around. Hopefully, the more you level up, the more populated it becomes.

Customising the cars is nicely done – and works naturally by setting it in a garage, with access to whatever you need providing your rep is there and your credits are in line. Adding in decals, paints and tooling up give you a feel for your ownership and while this is nothing new in racing games, the fact that it's street-racing to the max, gives it a frisson of ownership that's exciting.

While the police don't exactly feel like they pose much of a threat, the world within is worth exploring. From collectibles to snatching camera shots, there's a lot to do in Need For Speed and a lot that's worth investing in. Granted, if your internet fails, there are frustrations, (and one thing EA should have considered) but for disposable racing fun, Need For Speed delivers in spades. The motto is if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and maybe the reboot has tweaked some edges, but the game's DNA is thrillingly alive in an exceptionally busy end to 2015.


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