Gaming

Need for Speed's latest version is a fun reboot

Graphics of NFS are stunning, with the urban jungle and your cars beautifully rendered. And it is always wet and raining.
Graphics of NFS are stunning, with the urban jungle and your cars beautifully rendered. And it is always wet and raining.PHOTO: ELECTRONIC ARTS

I still remember the first racing game I played. It was the Need For Speed (NFS) in 1994. It was exhilarating to race against police cars to avoid capture in the virtual world.

This 21-year-old racing franchise has gone through many iterations and formats. However, the latest iteration represents a reboot, according to publisher Electronic Arts.

You start out as a new kid on the block in the fictional Ventura Bay, a city that seems to be inspired by Los Angeles. It is an open world that is constantly evolving.

There are full motion video (FMV) cutscenes that introduce you to the various characters, played by real actors, who will be your friends or crew. It will not be NFS if there are no FMV cutscenes.

  • 8/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $69.90 (PC, available 2nd quarter 2016), $79.90 (PS4) $79.90 (Xbox One, version tested)

    GENRE: Racing

You get to choose a car for free. Choose wisely as you need to race this car to build up your reputation and make money to get new cars later. For instance, you can choose a Ford Mustang for power, or a Honda Civic Type-R for handling.

Whenever you drive around Ventura Bay, you gain points to raise your reputation level. There are five ways to play to earn reputation points. They are Speed (fastest timing), Style (drift), Build (customising your car), Crew (drive in close proximity with friends) and Outlaw (drive against police). For example, you gain Outlaw reputation points when escaping police pursuits.

Your crew will give you story missions, from going on a sprint race to helping them on drift contests. You earn reputation points and money when you complete these missions. Higher reputation opens up more tuning and optimisation options for your car. More money lets you buy these upgrades and tunings.

You can feel the difference when you upgrade or tune your car. It handles according to your set-up, whether drifting or straight-line speed.

The actors do a pretty good job in bringing you into the game through the cutscenes. The videos are a bit draggy at times, but you can always skip them.

The soundtrack is pulsating and adds much to the adrenaline rush during races.

Graphics of NFS are stunning, with the urban jungle and your cars beautifully rendered. It is a pity that there is no day-night cycle. Also, it is always wet and raining.

Furthermore, you need to be online in order to play the game. That is even if you want to do the single- player story missions. Other players can join or leave your game any time. But you can team up with other online players to complete missions or race against each other.

One big point to note about NFS is that it has no difficulty levels, replay points or driving line assist. So you can only keep replaying missions if you fail to complete them.

Compared to other racing games like Forza Motorsport that has more than 400 cars, NFS only has just over 50 cars to choose from. And you can only own five cars at any one time.

  • Verdict: The new Need For Speed is a good-looking and fun racing game that anyone can dive straight into. But I wished it had more cars.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline 'Need for Speed's latest version is a fun reboot'. Print Edition | Subscribe