EA’s flagship racing game Need for Speed is back, as Black Box takes the reins once more to bring gamers Need for Speed: The Run.
Jumping right into the game’s single-player, players will take on the role of Jack Rourke, a racer who is in deep enough trouble, that the mob wants him killed. On the run, no pun intended, Rourke meets up with a hottie named Sam Harper, who offers him entry (for a cut of course) into a cross country race from San Francisco to New York, with the winner getting a cool $25,000,000. Unfortunately, that pretty much sums up the storyline.
There are a few quicktime events that let us flee from our would-be captors, but it’s linear and uneventful. When it’s all said and done, we don’t really find out much more about Rourke, his past troubles, or why such a high price is up for his head. To make matters worse, the story mode is over rather quickly.
A bland story notwithstanding, the racing itself is pretty enjoyable. The environments and vistas from the various cities and areas across the country look mighty good, thanks in large part to the Frostbite 2 engine that includes some pretty accurate locales. Throughout the story, gamers will encounter a couple of different race types, such as time attack, cop chases, head-to-head races and more. It’s a good way to break up the action and add a little diversity. The controls work quite well, with certain cars handling very easily, such as the Nissan Z, or BMW M3, while other vehicles like the Camaro, and the Lamborghini, are a bit tougher to maneuver. It’s a pick-your-poison kind of thing that requires a little bit of strategy, depending on where you’re next racing area will be. (A little advice, don’t try driving a Trans Am in the curvy hills of Yosemite…you’ll regret it!)
XP will be earned during each race, whether it’s in single-player or multiplayer. Players will level up, which unlocks various items and collectables, while the game’s Autolog feature will show you how you stack up against your friends in each track and section of the game.
Online multiplayer was also pretty fun, as gamers can drop into a game that’s already in progress, instead of having to wait in a lobby. Of course that might mean you’re in dead last when you start a race, but hey, that’s part of the challenge. The races themselves are short enough to be done in spurts if you don’t have much time to play while the various playlists keep things fresh. I did find it a little off-putting that you couldn’t cut through corners or get off course as the game would take you back to redo it, but at least when the game “rewinds” you, you’re taken to your last checkpoint.
Overall, the game is fun to play, though more work could have been done to the story mode, or worst case scenario, been taken off completely for a more arcade-like journey across the U.S. Single-player mode aside, there’s not a whole lot to do afterward, but the challenges and online races are entertaining enough to be a cool option when you’re feeling the need for speed.