The lights are on
The new open-world racer from Ghost Games and Criterion
blends single-player, co-op, and competitive multiplayer into a single racing
experience. We got behind the wheel of one of Need For Speed Rivals' souped-up
squad cars to take down a few illegal street racers and walked away impressed.
Like last year's critically
acclaimed Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Rivals focuses on the interplay between
racers and the police who ruthlessly pursue them. Racers take to the street to
compete with other drivers in impromptu races, while the police focus on taking
down scofflaws by any means necessary. Being a fan of Burnout, I chose the
police for my three-versus-three hands-on demo, though I broke just as many
laws in my pursuit of justice.
Rivals' big new gimmick is All Drive, which seamlessly
places friends into the same instance of the game's open world and can dynamically
offer objectives based on what you're doing. For instance, if you and a friend
are both chasing down cars in separate sections of the world, your objective may
merge if you end up driving into the same area. Each player also has a list of
objectives present on the screen, which offer a variety of challenges to
complete at any given time.
Rivals offers players a risk/reward system for earning Speed
Points, which act as the game's currency. Racers earn points for a variety of
actions, such as drifting and crashing into cars, but for maximum points you'll
want to boost your multiplier by completing races. However, racers don't
actually get to keep their points until they bank them at a hideout, and will
lose them if busted by the cops. Conversely, cops earn points by taking down
racers; the more points a racer has earned, the more enticing a target they make.
My fellow law enforcers and I jumped to an early lead during
our demo, as we tailed our opponents and took them down with a variety of
power-ups such as EMP blasts and road spikes (however, it turns out that
high-speed head-on collisions are still the best way to stop a fleeing suspect).
As time went on, however, the racing team started pulling away as their
multipliers increased from performing races. Chasing after a high-value target
while trying to keep my car on the road and avoid civilian traffic provided an
even greater sense of excitement than the blistering speeds I was pushing in my nitro-equipped cruiser.
I haven't played the last few incarnations of Need For
Speed, but I enjoyed my hands-on time with Rivals. The next-gen visuals provide
all the detail and polish you would expect from a simulation racing game, while
the use of power-ups and focus on takedowns provide more arcade-like action. Need For Speed Rivals launches on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 19; next-gen versions will release at a later date.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
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