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access_time November 28, 2013 at 2:26 PM in Reviews by Ramon Aranda

Review | Need for Speed Rivals (PS4/Xbox One)


Having had a chance to play Need for Speed: Rivals at a press event a few weeks before the game’s official release, I was pretty impressed with what I saw and found myself having a good time with the game.  Now that the game is out in the wild, I’ve put in countless hours into the latest Need for Speed and I continue to enjoy what Ghost Games has put into the game.

As someone who’s played quite a few NFS titles, I found Rivals to be a nice combination of two particular games – Most Wanted, in the sense that it’s a bit of an open world environment, and Hot Pursuit, namely because you do engage in cops vs. racer, which works quite well as a total package. The game takes place in Redview County, which offers up roads up mountains, in urban areas and also along the coastline, which is a good amount of variety, and gives racers a good amount of options when trying to outrun the fuzz.

And while making a run for it with the cops on your tail, it really comes down to trying to outrace them, as Rivals doesn’t exactly have a myriad of labyrinths in which to hide.  So what you’ll see is that sometimes it can be difficult to make your escape as the cops seem to have a pretty good eye on you at all times, so it takes some fancy driving to get away, as opposed to finding hidden areas in which to chill out, while the heat dies off.  This resulted in a few irritating moments when I would seemingly be out of harm’s way, only to find the cops on my tail once again out of nowhere.


Once you find your way out onto the streets, you’ll have quick access to your map, which lets you find a whole heap of challenges, which include time trials, races, one-on-one showdowns, cop chases and more.  Something that I enjoyed just as much as jumping into a challenge, is simply driving around as Need for Speed Rivals looks really sexy on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  There is some very realistic lighting and highly detailed environments and the weather effects are really cool, while cars look photorealistic, including the damage they can take over time.  The weather, aside from looking pretty, also has an effect on your driving, since the change in conditions do make a difference with how your ride performs.  You’ll see rain drops all over the car, as well as on your window, which can affect your vision, while the sun’s illumination looks superb on roads and off your hood.

With the game having a story, it should be noted that there isn’t much to it, and it’s almost just a throw in, though you can go through each chapter as either the cop or racer.  Regardless of which side you plan on playing as, you’ll be given a speed list, which is essentially just a checklist of stuff you need to complete, before moving on to the next one.


Though races, either against a couple of other racers or in a one-on-one setup, and time trials are cool ways to get you moving around the city, hot pursuits are easily the best of the lot, as they can be pretty intense and have a higher level of replayability in my opinion. While playing, you’ll not only get to upgrade each individual car that you own (which you can purchase using the game’s currency), but also add weapons, such as EMPs, that can debilitate other racers or the cops.

Probably most important of all, is that Need for Speed Rivals handles well, with each car, whether it’s a muscle car or something more sexy like a Ferrari, having a distinct feel, but all of them being more or less accessible. When trying to upgrade your vehicles, as previously mentioned, you use the game’s currency, and you can add to your score multiplier by continuing to play, but if you get busted by the cops before you end up in a hideout, you’ll lose everything.  It’s very rewarding to keep going but can be extremely rage-inducing when you get caught, so players will want to be strategic with their timing.

As I put in quite a few hours as both the racer and the cop, I enjoyed being a racer much more as there seemed to be more things to do, and being a cop was perhaps a better proposition when you were chasing down friends.  The cool thing is that the game allows other players to essentially invade your single player experience, as you can race them or chase them at the same time.  They can be racers or join you as the police to chase AI racers, or really can just drive around in your world, since there is no specific structure. That in itself was cool, as I would randomly run into some of my friends and was able to start up a random race or chase them down.


Though the game lacks major depth, it’s still fun to play, and great to look at.  It’s the kind of game that might not get a lot of play down the line, but as a launch game, is one of the better games of the lot and is just as enjoyable to simply drive around with no goals, as it is to put in time with single or multiplayer.

Final Score: 4 out of 5


  • dirksterdude November 28, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    I have the 360 version of the game and even it’s beautiful. I would have given the game and 7.5-8/10 due to some shortcomings that I noticed about the game as you played.

    *** DON’T LIKE *** One, if you’re a racer doing NOTHING as in just sitting there on the side of the road, looking at the map the cops can bust you. I would have thought speeding or being parked illegally or something would prompt the cops, but the whole “I’m out of the hideout so I’m vulnerable and there is nothing to be done about it if I want a quick look at the map” is the dumbest thing in the world. Two, there is the way you start all events. For example: starting a race you’re sitting still while all the drivers and possibly cops pass you and you then have to play catch up. It would have made more sense for a rolling start. There has been at least 2 occasions where I was busted at the beginning of an event before I had even been given control of the vehicle so I could get away from the cops chasing the other A.I. players who were all ahead of me. Of course these 2 issues are rare and irritating, but don’t really impact the game. The game itself really doesn’t need a story and the objectives are good enough for giving a sense of progression.

    *** DO LIKE *** One, you can be a Racer or Cop and the two are different enough to add value rather than detract from being too similar to each other. As a Racer you can purchase, upgrade cars or tech used to foil the cops. As a cop you get the car for free, but have more options to take down the bad guys. Two, variety of racing locals is sufficient and you can also have an impromptu head-to-head race which is cool. Three, while there are not as many cars to choose from they are all licensed and exotic enough for you to want to drive them -and- they all drive differently. There is enough variety that the lack of numbers doesn’t really matter. Four, when you’re in a hideout (racers) or command center (cops) you can choose any event on the map and it will start you right there. If you want to do the event over you can instantly restart as long as you don’t have cops on your tail. Once you get used to EZ Drive (360 uses D-pad) it can work out great for finding races, friends in your session or other things such as repair shops or hideouts/command centers. You don’t have to go to the big map and risk being busted. Fifth, there is just enough of the trademark Criterion damage you might see in a Burnout game that it looks and feels really cool. I suspect the only restriction was the owners of the licenses for the vehicles probably didn’t want to see there really cools cars get all messed up.

    • Ramon Aranda November 29, 2013 at 1:18 AM

      Some valid points for sure, particularly with what you like about the game. As for the dislikes, I haven’t had any issues with starting races or other challenges, but I do agree that it’s not cool that you can get busted for just being parked…it should take something illegal for the cops to want to nab you.

      • dirksterdude November 29, 2013 at 5:36 AM

        My main issue is how you start races in the first place. The 2 times where I’m assuming it messed up and busted me even before I could control the car is a glitch. That has happened rarely. However, the fact I start at a clear disadvantage on every single event doesn’t seem even-handed and I think they could have figured out a way to do that.

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