GamesCom 2011 – Need For Speed The Run

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Need for Speed may fall under some heavy-handed criticism for their habit of annual releases and general lack of creativity, but at least the games are always fun to play. Need for Speed: The Run, looks like an upcoming game from EA that is aiming to create an all new environment for the franchise, one where the world around you is just as important as the car that you’re driving.

As Jack Rourke, players are going to find themselves in big trouble, and the only way out, is to buy your freedom. To get the cash necessary, Jack is going to have to take on one of the most dangerous races in the world, as he finds himself driving one long track all the way from New York to San Francisco.

I got a chance to play the demo for the game at GamesCom, and it feels like a completely different beast when compared to past iterations in the series. The controls are tight, and thankfully still with a touch of arcade thrown in, but they will require some practice to master, but the biggest difference is in how understanding the environment can lead to success or failure.

The first level tried was the Desert Hills race, showcasing just how brilliant DICEs’ Frostbite graphical engine can work on other genres. The mighty sandstorms whipped up made for some tense sections where visibility was almost zero, while rock-falls from mountainsides shifted me straight into Chapman’s Peak mode, as I had to desperately swerve out of the way of several boulders barrelling down on the road.

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The opposing racing AI has also been stepped up a notch, with lower ranked competitors sometimes bungling about on the track, while those with a higher rank race with sheer precision and skill. Suffice to say, that this will be one of the more challenging Need For Speed games to come out in recent memory.

Next up was the avalanche track, a snowy winter hell-land that requires absolute perfection when using braking and NOS boosts, lest you find yourself spinning out of control and into a mountainside. But play it safe, and you’ll find yourself running smack-dab into an actual avalanche, so players will be on their toes constantly, trying to balance skilled driving with survival.

I never got a chance to play any of the on foot sections that are being discussed about for the game, but honestly, this version of Need for Speed feels like old times again, making me want to push myself faster and further in terms of learning skills, making me want to do better in a race game, while still having fun, and that’s what NFS is supposed to be all about.

This is one racing game to look out for later this year.

 

Last Updated: August 24, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

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