Need For Speed: The Run – Demo Impressions

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Yesterday, the demo for NFS: The Run became available on Xbox Live, giving all of the chance to test drive the latest entry into the NFS series by Blackbox Studios.

NFS: The Run approaches things a little differently, promising Hollywood-styled driving action across the whole of the U.S.A, all running in DICE’s brand spanking new Frostbite 2 engine.

Our impressions, after the jump.

The NFS demo is made up of two driving stages along the main career mode journey from one side of the U.S.A to the other, of which both are point to point (at the stage I don’t actually know if there will be any events that aren’t point to point, but I could be mistaken). If you ever liked the idea of the Gumball Rally or Cannonball Run, this is up your alley, with Michael Bay attached.

The first level takes place in the desert just out of Las Vegas heading East and you have been given the choice of either a Lamborghini Gallardo or a Porsche 911 that can be unlocked by recommending the demo to a friend.

In the first level your objective is to pass at least 10 cars before you reach the end of the stage, which takes just under 3 minutes and starts in a mountainous area and then ends on one of those crazy, straight long desert stretches of road that you always see in the movies. The level changes from tar roads, to dirt roads that run between jagged rocky areas and then bar to tar again, with the surfaces affecting handling quite considerably.

The driving mechanics in The Run are geared more towards highway cruising, with the cars feeling quite weighty under your control, requiring heavy braking to take sharp corners and just so you know, this game is not geared around arcade-like drifting at all. In fact if you could actually drift a car in this game without spinning it out you are probably doing something very right.

So overtaking 10 cars can be quite a task as you weave between traffic, try not to hit walls and try and gather up boost to use to your advantage (the boost gauge works pretty much the same as it did in Hot Pursuit).

The point-to-point stages in The Run are broken down into checkpoints, and you are given a certain amount of ‘rewinds’ to use, but unlike other games that rewind the action a little, your rewinds are limited and will only start you back at your last checkpoint, so the challenge is still very much there to make your way through a section of road without screwing up, especially as some areas can be very grueling.

The second level takes place in snowy mountains of Colorado where you are put up against a single rival who you have to beat to the end of the level, and this is where the hollywood action really comes into play. The area that you are racing through is a blasting area that has had the roads closed, but that doesn’t stop you and the other douche from racing through it at break neck speeds.

As you get further and further into the race, explosions start going off, setting off massive avalanches that come tumbling down onto the road, along with massive boulders that need to be avoided at the last minute. It’s pretty intense and will definitely get your heart pounding as you race not only to beat the opponent, but to just survive the stage.

The Frostbite 2 engine is looking pretty good and although it does a magnificent job of handling the massive driving stages, it does feel like it lacks a bit of detail at times and the graphics, while smooth, didn’t come anywhere close to the magic 60 frames-per-second that we always hope for.

As most of you may know, The Run also features some out-of-car action with the protagonist having to do some crazy Hollywood stunts, controlled by quicktime events, but the demo unfortunately has none of those areas in it to test.

So far, I must say that I wasn’t really looking forward to The Run, as I felt I needed to see it first to decide if I like it and from what I played in the demo, I can say that it definitely has my interest now, so hang around for our full review.

Need for Speed: The Run hits our local shelves on November 18 for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Last Updated: October 19, 2011

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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