Need For Speed has never been afraid of change. Over the years, the franchise has changed gears from being a Porsche showcase, a Fast and Furious inspired underground racer, a track day circuit experience and a cinematic story that drove a tale through the 50 united states of America. But after years of annual releases, the franchise needed some time off.NFS (12)

With 2014 marking the first time that Need For Speed had skipped a year since 2001, the series is back to remind folks what speed really is now that developer Ghost are behind the wheel. And for the most part, it fires on all cylinders, even if it does do a sloppy drift on to newer hardware.

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At its core, Need For Speed is still all about starting at the bottom and working your way up. Grab a car, hit a race, earn cash and burn it on new wheels and upgrades. That much hasn’t changed, although the mentality of the garage certainly has. There’s only space for five cars in your garage, and fifty vehicles to choose from as you ascend the ladder of infamy. From hot hatchbacks to cult classic supercars, there’s a decent selection on offer here.

And it’s that focus on a smaller selection, which actually works. By limiting the player and creating a catalogue where each car actually does feel different and requires tuning, choosing the right car for the streets now creates a stronger bond. Hell, after the ten-hour mark, I’d only settled on two cars for myself: A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR for tight races and a classic Ford Mustang for events that required me to slide my rear around the streets like a whale with an eating disorder.

Die-Spike

By hour 20, I’d finished my selection, with four of my cars being specifically tuned for particular events, and a Jack of all trades hot-rod for cruising. And it’s that concept, which defines this Need For Speed.

Everything you do in Need For Speed builds up points towards one of five totems: Speed, Style, Build, Crew, and Outlaw. Competing and focusing on these aspects unlocks garage rewards, as the system itself is simple enough to work out: Hitting maximum revs earns you Speed points, burning your nitrous in a clean burst nets you more Build points and drifting around a corner like a Tokyo maniac adds to your style score.

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Club driving is an interesting idea, one that rewards you based on how close you are to your rivals, but a feature that doesn’t hit all the marks when you factor the suicidal driving style of AI challengers into the mix.

Points can be earned across all five totems at any time, or simultaneously in massively rare “Perfect” moments, with various events dotted around Ventura Bay that cater to these challenges. Outlaw is perhaps the odd career choice to branch out in, as these points can feel too easy to earn, while the cops don’t present that much of a challenge once your vehicle has been properly upgraded.

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While the cops are decently aggressive and will leave you alone without harassing you for minor infractions like running a red robot or over a pensioner, upping your Outlaw score will involve you needing to bait them quite a bit before they decided to react with a heavier hand.

It’s still a solid feature however, and combined with the Project Gotham Racing Kudos influence, it works well enough to keep the racing experience fresh. Between races however, you’ll quickly become familiar with a crew of like-minded individuals who all exist to burn some rubber while they wait to hear of they’ll ever get a shot in the next Fast ‘N Furious film. They’re all about impressing icons in the world of cars, such as that beardy Magnus Walker chap, Ken Block and his reckless disregard for the laws of physics or building a car with enough horses under the hood to impress Akira Nakai.

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They’re actually a great bunch in that cheesy manner that only EA can pull off when it comes to in-game cinematics, although Spike can take his trust fund attitude and drive himself off of a cliff, along with his constant attempts to be about as hip and happening as Steve Buscemi infiltrating a high school. Seriously, more Amy and Manu, less of Spike in the future. Dawg.

DIIIIIIIIIIIIE-SPIKE

The in-game cellphone application is also another annoying aspect of the game, although this could also be seen as a sign of impending old age as receiving phone calls every ten seconds from the cast had me wishing that I could throw my console out the window. The persistent ringing and vibrating smartphone knows no boundaries, even during the middle of a race. And sometimes you have to talk to Spike, a guy who I really, really cannot stand, in case I didn’t mention it yet.

NFS (2)

Ventura Bay itself is a picturesque location. Clearly inspired by the streets of Los Angeles, it features all the usual open-world hallmarks of racing games: A hill section with winding turns, a long straight over a bridge and numerous corners to lose a hot pursuit in as you drift past high-rise offices and beachfronts. There’s a few attractions to peruse, from zones that reward you for donut spins to picturesque vistas, “free” parts to collect off the back of trucks and phone calls from Spike to ignore. I hate him so much.

NFS (13)

It’s always night-time in Ventura Bay, with the return of the AllDrive system also populating the city with up to eight other drivers. Is the always-online system actually necessary? No, no it isn’t, and Need For Speed could easily have done without it. But does it work? Surprisingly well actually, as I found myself racing numerous other people from across the world, which did add an element of fun to the event, using the Autolog to complement the system.

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As I said, it’s not necessary, but at least AllDrive works and keeps the game running without it being a hindrance. Visually, Need For Speed is alright. It’s no Project Cars or Forza, but the game engine is a solid V6 of roads and shiny decals, with nary a performance drop during my 20 odd hours of play. Where the game does shine, is in the balance of car customisation.

NFS (9)

While it’s nowhere near as technical as what you’d see in a Gran Turismo title, tuning your vehicle with new parts to make it a high speed demon or a drift-heavy slider is more than adequate enough for enthusiasts or newcomers. Parts are regularly unlocked, paint jobs are easy to get the hang of and seeing your creation in the background of cinematics is actually exciting.

NFS (6)

2015’s Need For Speed has gone back to the drawing board. It might not have perfect revs, but the return of one of the oldest racing game franchises around is certainly off to a solid start. It’s a more grounded and less flashy take on the series, focused on tight corners and bad acting. A five-pronged progression system that encourages you to drive dirty or clean is welcome, as the game focuses on the perfect fusion of driver, car and tarmac.

I-love-these-guys

Also, f*** Spike.

Last Updated: November 10, 2015

Need For Speed
Not the best of reboots, but certainly not the worst, the latest Need For Speed plays it safe with a reborn franchise that is focused on finding the lust for momentum that it had lost in previous instalments. A solid start, even if it doesn't finish ahead of the pack.
7.5
Need For Speed was reviewed on PlayStation 4

91 Comments

  1. Cat on the hood of a car?

    SOLD

    Reply

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      November 10, 2015 at 12:55

      Yep! I’m definitely buying it now. I always wanted a cat decal on my car’s hood.

      Reply

  2. Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

    November 10, 2015 at 12:38

    Header image, dude on the right looks like a beeeeefed up JJ

    Reply

    • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

      November 10, 2015 at 12:41

      Come to think of it, the dude in header has not nearly enough eye-liner applied for comparison

      Reply

    • Captain JJ the Goo

      November 10, 2015 at 12:44

      Ey!

      Reply

      • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

        November 10, 2015 at 12:44

        Should I post the other?

        Reply

        • Captain JJ the Goo

          November 10, 2015 at 12:49

          I’m not sure if I’m insulted by you saying the guy’s more beefed or simply by having my pic up 😉

          Reply

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            November 10, 2015 at 12:51

            This one is more manly, surely!
            (refresh)

          • Captain JJ the Goo

            November 10, 2015 at 12:51

            Don’t you dare!
            I’m not refreshing. I’ll just pretend there’s nothing there.

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            November 10, 2015 at 12:52

            DO IT!

          • Hammersteyn

            November 10, 2015 at 12:54

            At least you were man enough to do it. Me, I’m not so sure

          • Captain JJ the Goo

            November 10, 2015 at 12:55

            Now you’re just making me curious about what he’s put up.
            Still not refreshing though

          • Hammersteyn

            November 10, 2015 at 12:57

            He NEVAR forgets

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            November 10, 2015 at 13:07

            Now that is totally un-manly of you!

            I promise it is not the Emo-JJ! Come to think of it….where did I save that one….

          • miaau

            November 10, 2015 at 13:27

            Pants?

          • Dutch Matrix

            November 10, 2015 at 13:30

            I find this comment offensive! #Troll

          • miaau

            November 10, 2015 at 14:02

            Well, I find a lot offensive. including the fact that you find this offensive

            #troll. Hah.

          • Dutch Matrix

            November 10, 2015 at 14:05

            I find your love of cats offensive!

          • miaau

            November 10, 2015 at 14:25

            Well, that just makes me feel sorry for you as a human being. Shame. Perhaps one day, light will dawn and it will RIGHT and you will be blessed with a cat, that understands you and you understand it.

            And no, this is not a euphemism for a wife or GF or anything like that.

          • Dutch Matrix

            November 10, 2015 at 14:47

            I love cats. But I prefer an animal that at least looks happy when it sees me. Also (and this is all seriously said) the sound cats make when they mate/square off freaks me the hell out.
            First time I heard it, it sounded like the little girl from next door was crying at our front door.

          • miaau

            November 10, 2015 at 14:51

            Indeed it does!

            My cats are happy to see me. But they are stubborn and independent too.

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      November 10, 2015 at 12:50

      JJ doesn’t need beefing up! He is a manly man, man!

      Reply

      • Captain JJ the Goo

        November 10, 2015 at 12:51

        Thanks

        Reply

  3. WitWolfy

    November 10, 2015 at 12:43

    Not completely sold on this game.. Will prob get it in the bargain bin down the line.

    Reply

    • Captain JJ the Goo

      November 10, 2015 at 12:44

      I’m skipping another NFS it seems. Yet again.

      Reply

      • WitWolfy

        November 10, 2015 at 12:45

        I actually expected this to be Underground 3.. Now I know its just a hybrid between Underground 2 and Carbon…

        Reply

        • Captain JJ the Goo

          November 10, 2015 at 12:48

          I wish it was a hybrid between those two. This is Rivals in an Underground skin.

          Reply

          • WitWolfy

            November 10, 2015 at 12:50

            Couldn’t of said it better myself! With crappy Real time actors… Meh…

          • Nikola

            November 10, 2015 at 14:29

            You couldn’t be more wrong;)

  4. Hammersteyn

    November 10, 2015 at 12:44

    Pussy on the bonnet? Sold, but not day one EA. Forget it.

    Reply

    • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

      November 10, 2015 at 12:45

      Pussywagon?

      Reply

  5. Raptor Rants

    November 10, 2015 at 12:45

    • Hammersteyn

      November 10, 2015 at 12:46

      He can only make 7 point turns?

      Reply

      • Raptor Rants

        November 10, 2015 at 12:46

        …… you suck…..

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          November 10, 2015 at 12:48

          hehe I’m done

          Reply

      • Ottokie

        November 10, 2015 at 12:48

        3 more replies to go. You can do it!

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          November 10, 2015 at 12:49

          poor guy. I can only torment so much

          Reply

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            November 10, 2015 at 12:50

            DO IT

          • Raptor Rants

            November 10, 2015 at 13:04

            You will have your day. One day you will be 7

          • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

            November 10, 2015 at 13:11

            I’ve got advanced programs that prevents that from happening

          • Hammersteyn

            November 10, 2015 at 13:18

            XD

      • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

        November 10, 2015 at 12:50

        7 attempts to park?

        Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      November 10, 2015 at 12:46

      He only drives cars with 7 gears

      Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      November 10, 2015 at 12:46

      He never drives slower than 77mph?

      Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      November 10, 2015 at 12:47

      He never drives on the 7th day of the week?

      Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      November 10, 2015 at 12:48

      He once was in a fatal accident but he arose on the 7th day?

      Reply

      • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

        November 10, 2015 at 12:49

        xD

        Reply

  6. Hammersteyn

    November 10, 2015 at 12:45

    I bet Most Wanted from 2012 was better :/

    Reply

    • WitWolfy

      November 10, 2015 at 12:46

      I enjoyed Most Wanted 2012, especially on Vita. Surprisingly good.

      Reply

  7. Captain JJ the Goo

    November 10, 2015 at 12:47

    So it’s practically a Need For Speed Rivals with more customisation and the online functionality of The Crew.

    Reply

    • Nikola

      November 10, 2015 at 14:30

      Rivals is crap, this game in all honestly is pretty darn good it’s the best racing game I’ve played in recent memory! But I know you won’t get it due to no manual transmission which I understand but still missing out on a LOT of fun:)

      Reply

      • Captain JJ the Goo

        November 10, 2015 at 15:18

        It intrigues me, no doubt, but yea I need Manual Transmission.

        Reply

  8. (Umar) Must be Cipher

    November 10, 2015 at 12:49

    Who would put cats on their car…Darryn, obviously Darryn.

    Reply

    • miaau

      November 10, 2015 at 13:21

      Um. Yeah. Just him. 🙂

      Reply

  9. Captain JJ the Goo

    November 10, 2015 at 12:49

    The Crew Wild Run is here in 6 days.
    I’m rather getting that.

    Reply

  10. (Umar) Must be Cipher

    November 10, 2015 at 12:51

    • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

      November 10, 2015 at 12:52

      NFSU2!!!

      Reply

      • (Umar) Must be Cipher

        November 10, 2015 at 12:52

        BEST!!!!…Well…..Most Wanted is the best, but this is a close second!

        Reply

        • Aries

          November 10, 2015 at 13:45

          Nope Underground 2 was best

          Reply

          • Dutch Matrix

            November 10, 2015 at 13:51

            Brooke Burke!

  11. Sean Carbutt

    November 10, 2015 at 12:54

    Hype. My mates that bought the game reckon it is a piece of k8k. In fact they have already traded it in to get Fallout.

    Reply

    • Captain JJ the Goo

      November 10, 2015 at 12:56

      There were quite a few signs that this wasn’t as “new” and “fresh” as EA had said.
      But they’re good at marketing. So they got the game sold.

      Reply

      • Ottokie

        November 10, 2015 at 13:00

        I’m glad the hype train I was on crashed before this game released. Battlefront kind of went with it and Overwatch is starting to lean off the tracks as well.

        Reply

        • Captain JJ the Goo

          November 10, 2015 at 13:01

          Haha. Good.
          I still haven’t allowed myself to see much of Fallout 4….so I’ll see what it’s like when I play it later this week.

          Reply

          • Ottokie

            November 10, 2015 at 13:03

            The closest I have got to playing any Fallout was the Fallout Shelter mobile game. But watched some streams and it looks pretty fun and entertaining.

            *I might have to start running

          • Captain JJ the Goo

            November 10, 2015 at 13:09

            I haven’t even played the Fallout Shelter game….I really should try it out though.

          • Captain JJ the Goo

            November 10, 2015 at 13:09

            Fallout 3 and NV might feel a bit old now, so might be difficult to get into.
            So yes, just run.

          • Ottokie

            November 10, 2015 at 13:11

            Yup, I would also like to play Fallout 3 but it’s aged a bit much.

          • Captain JJ the Goo

            November 10, 2015 at 13:14

            I preferred the map of 3, but the content of NV was excellent.
            Played it last year and didn’t feel too old, but it’s probably also because of the good memories I have with it that it will always feel like that same game to me.

          • Aries

            November 10, 2015 at 13:45

            Wanted to get them on steam but it said it wasn’t optimized for win7 and up so never bothered

          • Captain JJ the Goo

            November 10, 2015 at 13:47

            I’ve played New Vegas on Win7 and Win10, and it runs perfectly fine for me. Haven’t tried Fallout 3 though.

    • Nikola

      November 10, 2015 at 14:31

      I got it and couple of friends everyone I know is enjoying it quite a bit! So depends what you were expecting from the game!

      Reply

      • miaau

        November 10, 2015 at 14:35

        like movies, if people hype it up too much before you see it, it does not meet the high expectation you now have of it.

        Reply

  12. Dutch Matrix

    November 10, 2015 at 13:10

    Hey Darren! Any chances of Papbek Matrix making an appearance in this one??? No. Wait. Got it. Flat Wheel Matrix!

    Reply

  13. SmurFyZA

    November 10, 2015 at 13:16

    I feel you Darren. Ive been playing since Sunday and Im really enjoying it. I would have loved to see Drag races in the game. No idea why that was left out. Spike… Ah man I wish I could block his number in-game. He is one annoying little sh*t

    Reply

    • Dutch Matrix

      November 10, 2015 at 13:17

      Roman Bellic

      Reply

  14. Dutch Matrix

    November 10, 2015 at 13:33

    • oVg

      November 10, 2015 at 14:19

      Good point, I suppose loosing the manual gear option is progression in this day and age.

      I used to love over revvvvvving the engine by gearing down for a sick drift in Underground.

      Reply

      • Dutch Matrix

        November 10, 2015 at 14:24

        Manual gear shift: $5.99 DLC. Do the yanks still even have manual gearboxes in their motorvans?

        Reply

      • Captain JJ the Goo

        November 10, 2015 at 15:19

        There is zero “car enthusiasm” or “race culture” if there is no manual transmission.

        Reply

      • (Umar) Must be Cipher

        November 10, 2015 at 15:38

        Dude, did Rince tell you about the Quiet situation?

        Reply

        • oVg

          November 10, 2015 at 15:45

          Ya, but I’m on my second play lol cant create more than 1 save file in modern gaming 🙁

          Reply

          • (Umar) Must be Cipher

            November 10, 2015 at 15:46

            Lol Damn! V has really come to…

  15. Dutch Matrix

    November 10, 2015 at 13:43

    Is that Douce-face in the screenshots Spike? If so, does the final mission/race involve Trevor Philips running him over? Or Spike the Vampire brutally murdering him?

    Reply

  16. Sageville

    November 10, 2015 at 13:58

    1 hour into game, I want to find and place Spike in the Sea….

    Reply

    • Dutch Matrix

      November 10, 2015 at 14:07

      You might find the WWF all up yo ass. Ocean pollution and all that.

      Reply

  17. Nikola

    November 10, 2015 at 14:28

    Got the game haven’t had a chance to put hours in yet but from what I saw absolutely LOVE the game and if you are a fan of Arcade racing game it’s a must BUY honestly the best racing game I’ve played since Most Wanted! My brother is heavy into it as well and he is loving it, besides drifting because he sucks in it!

    Reply

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