Need for Speed Rivals Review

Revving up for speed

In this year’s Need For Speed, both the racers and the cops are scumbags. Neither side evokes sympathy. And thank God for that. The incredible feeling of liberation when all you crave is racing is intensified by the stunning graphics and insane speeds. Need For Speed Rivals welcomes you to the doorstep of the next generation.

On PlayStation 4, Rivals looks simply amazing. Droplets running down the rear window of your car, leaves flying up as you race through a forest road, and a solid performance reserve – all of this gives a truly new technology feeling. The daring battle with street racers behind the wheel of a police Bugatti Veyron during a storm on a winding mountain track seems like a collective feverish hallucination that Ghost Games have brought to life. And amidst all this, you experience an incredible, intoxicating sense of speed. In this game, blinking is forbidden. Get distracted for a fraction of a second, and it’s game over for you.

In the streets of Redview city, players can be both racers and police officers. Rapid Response/Time Trial modes involve point-to-point races, in Hot Pursuit, the police try to disrupt the competition while the racers try to reach the finish line, and in Interceptor mode, it’s a one-on-one chase where you can be in either role. There are also more traditional races available. In any case, you will have to look at exotic cars in a completely new way.

A high-speed pursuit

Pursuit Tech gadgets are equipped in one or two slots. These items can create shockwaves, generate electromagnetic interference, or call in a helicopter to drop spike strips on the road. They have a recharge time, so you can’t perform these tricks one after another.

Almost every action in the game earns you Speed Points, which are needed to upgrade your car fleet. If you get busted by the cops, you lose all your points. It’s quite unpleasant to lose everything you’ve accumulated during a gaming session as a racer, so it’s worth depositing points in the Hideout more often. The campaign is divided into chapters, and to progress through them, you need to fulfill requirements such as wrecking a certain number of racer cars, getting silver in a race event, or exceeding the required speed for a couple of seconds. Race events are divided into categories: Race, Pursuit, and Drive (Patrol, Undercover, and Enforcer for the police), and you need to complete at least one of them to move on to the next chapter and unlock new cars and gadgets. This branching structure allows you to try yourself in different modes and ultimately use your strengths. For example, I’m not a great racer, but I can make progress by arresting violators as a cop.

As for the story, there are no surprises here. Racers want to race. Cops don’t want them to race. Various scary videos are shown where the police exceed their authority, and the racers want to be free and all that. At the end of the campaign, the Vehicle Response Team comes into play for the police – a special FBI unit to combat illegal street racing. Yes, I understand. Just accept it. Or don’t accept it. The short cutscenes are not worth watching. The dialogues are terrible, like daily affirmations for a tough guy from the neighborhood or, I don’t know, crossfit for a nerd. Do yourself a favor and spend that time on natural bodily needs, especially since there is no pause function in Rivals.

That’s right. Pressing Options only brings up the map on the screen, where you can choose what to do next. The only way to pause the races is to… drive… faster! Why am I not in a race right now?! Because you need to go to the Hideout and the Base, where upgrades are made and you can switch between being a racer and a cop.

Racing through the city

To play Rivals, you need to connect your console to the internet (although there is also an offline mode in the game). The network nature of the AllDrive idea is a notorious great power and great responsibility. You can be doing a Time Trial and observe a bunch of spinning guys with the characteristic intermittent movements of live racers right in front of you at the intersection, erasing their tires.

The best thing that can be said about Rivals is that all its various elements are so harmoniously interconnected that it creates a constant, ever-increasing tension from minute to minute. If you thought it was difficult to catch up with the leader on a windy stretch of track, try doing it surrounded by fanatical police. And imagine that a friend (or a random stranger) suddenly veers off the path, taking your tail with them. Isn’t that cool? Or maybe they will push you off the road and arrest you. Also cool, but in a different way.

But when there are network interruptions, it affects the entire game immediately. Are you watching one of the videos that presents a lousy plot? You watched it and that’s enough! “You have been disconnected from the current game.”

Pushing the limits

Unexplained game session crashes are the main headache in Rivals. However, after losing connection, there is no need to wait long for a switch from one host to another. But I have already lost my progress twice. Once I needed to score 100,000 points in one game session. I scored half of them in an hour and after another disconnection, I rolled back to a big fat zero.

Why did it happen like this? Are no data stored locally? Or are the current results not tied to the profile? Or were they lost during the host switch? I have no idea, and that is the main danger of always-online games. Although the appeal of AllDrive is obvious, such cases make me wonder why the developers did not take care of functionality that allows saving data. Even the biggest scoundrel in the world does not deserve to lose a lot of time due to network issues.

But when everything works fine, Rivals is an excellent example of a game intentionally blurring the lines between single-player and involvement in a virtual community. No game design gimmicks can compare to the thrill of defeating a real opponent or helping a comrade in a difficult situation. However, the best representative of this upcoming future is still waiting for us somewhere ahead, while Rivals remains a restless journey towards games with smooth and reliable connections on consoles. Nevertheless, the game is beautiful and captivating enough for me not to abandon it and observe how all the unpleasant wrinkles are smoothed out.

Need for Speed Rivals
PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Racing, Multiplayer
Electronic Arts
Ghost Games
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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