The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
The premise of Need for Speed: The Run is very intriguing. Races at
breakneck speeds, out-of-the-car segments offering new experiences, and
an over-arcing story to tie it all together could have created a
breakthrough racing title that solved the genre’s repetitive nature.
Although The Run contains all of these constituent parts, it fails to
execute or combine them in a way that is engaging. After I finished the
game, I had raced across America, escaped the mob, and cheated death
numerous times, but was left with relatively few postcards to remember
the experience by.
My main problem with the game is that its
cross-country trek simply contains too few highlights. The
out-of-the-car moments can be counted on one hand, and when they finally
do occur, the fact that they are little more than quick-time events
dampens them as a novel gameplay experience in an otherwise foreign
genre. The one standout, non-QTE sequence takes place in Chicago with
protagonist Jack escaping from a crashed car before an oncoming train
flattens him. I liked it because I actually had some choice (or rather,
the illusion of it) in how I freed myself. However, this is the only
time being out of the car works well.
The racing itself isn’t
boring, but it’s not novel enough in and of itself to make the game
great – especially since it’s not being bolstered by the on-foot
segments. I will say this, however: The racing environments across
America are well chosen. Whether it’s the Nevada desert, the Rockies,
cities like Chicago, or even middle America, the races themselves look
great and are filled with their share of heart-stopping racing through
oncoming traffic, past pursuing cops, and down perilous back-country
roads. As fun as the racing is, I wish there were more crazy set-pieces
in the game such as when you escape an avalanche or race through the New
York subway system. Furthermore, I wanted more variety in the race
types themselves, and that fact that the tracks (especially the urban
ones) are linear beyond some shortcuts is unfortunate given that rival
series Midnight Club has been doing branching races for years.
much as the on-foot vignettes are a lost opportunity for The Run, I also
feel like it drops the ball on the story as a whole. Fight Night
Champion is a great example of a title that successfully placed a story
and characters on top of a genre where it didn’t normally belong. There
is no depth, character interest, or story twists beyond The Run’s stated
premise, and I soon detached from it because of that.
also has an extensive Autolog tracking system to feed you race
suggestions, as well as a separate Challenge mode that lets you earn
medals for a list of races, but they simply aren’t enough to hold my
interest. Need for Speed: The Run is by no stretch a bad game; it just
fails to capitalize on its chances. San Francisco to New York is a long
haul, and it’s even longer when not enough happens in between.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.