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Need For Speed: The Run Review

by William Schwartz

Last year EA released one of the best Need For Speed games in the long running franchise with Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. The arcade racing franchise has seen multiple changes over the years. With one year featuring street racing monsters, and the next playing cops and robbers, Need For Speed: The Run goes ahead and takes yet again, a different approach for the franchise. The cross country race known as The Run, is a high stakes, no hold-barred race across the country, that has your character front and center in a race against the clock, and fellow drivers, to get across the finish line first.

Need For Speed: The Run takes after its most recent offerings in that its got a great presentation to it all. The game has a cinematic presentation in its story telling mechanics, and this is evidently a feature from the start, as your character finds himself trapped in a vehicle that is headed to its final resting place in some sort of car crushing contraption. After a few well timed button presses you free yourself, and the story behind The Run begins to unfold.

Need For Speed: The Run is no racing simulator.

From the moment you get behind the wheel of your first car in Need For Speed: The Run, a couple of things are crystal clear. The first is that your objective is to drive fast, and the second is that this is no racing simulator. Between the black suvs spraying you with machine gun fire and the fast approaching corners, learning the ropes is an endeavor that will have you pinballing your way to your ultimate getaway. But it sets you up nicely for what Need For Speed: The Run is all about, and that is speed and the fine line between going fast and retaining control.

The Run is a cross-country race from San Francisco to New York and in-game it’s broken down into ten stages that rival their real life counterparts aesthetically. The rules are simple. Pass your competition by any means necessary, so basically no rules apply. Utilize every trick, short-cut, and powerup you can find to beat your opponent to the finish line, with races all having different requirements for you to perform. Some insist that you pass a certain number of opponents before reaching the finish line, others have you in a race against the clock to make up lost time. Different events will throw various roadblocks in your way. Whether that be civilian vehicles that end up in the middle of the high octane racing, highway patrol vehicles that are looking to break up your party, or environmental effects like sandstorms and snow, there is always something looking to impede your progress in your quest for the $25 million purse that is crowned to the victor of The Run.

With so many roadblocks being thrown your way, The Run has its fair share of crashes. These crashes are almost always spectacular cinematic events that can be easier or harder to avoid depending on your twitch reflexes. If you get into trouble along the way (which you will), and crash, you’ll be given the option to start at one of the race checkpoints prior to your crash. Instead of the cheap rewind feature that allows you to select where to resume your race from, The Run takes you to a specific point of the race, which can vary depending on how far away you are from your last checkpoint. It’s a good system that aligns itself more with a traditional game and having expendable lives, than the replay system that most games have recently adopted.

Spurred on by the beautiful landscapes that are blurred by the speed of the races in The Run, the presentation is pretty solid. A thumping soundtrack accompanies the speed thrill greatly, and on screen gauges, maps, and xp points earned, are easily recognizable, even with the breakneck pace. On screen rivals are labeled clearly, and you’ll always have a clear picture of where you stand, what your objective is, and how long you have to achieve it. Racing through The Run you’ll earn plenty of powerups, new cars, and other goodies for your online racing profile in the multiplayer aspects of the game. Though early on you’ll get access to speed bursts and be introduced to the gas station mechanic which allows you to switch cars on the fly by pulling in for a pit stop.

Crashes are almost always spectacular cinematic events.

The single player portion of Need For Speed: The Run isn’t overly long, but is extended by the Autolog feature that allows you to compare times with those on your Xbox Live of PlayStation Network friends list. Giving you second to second feedback about what your friends are doing and accomplishing, can certainly breed a rivalry among buddies who adopt the racer. It may even enhance your circle of friends by offering suggestions of players that could be a good fit for your friends list, judging by their autolog scores. Tracking the single player campaign, and the Challenge Series, the Autolog is always watching and keeping tabs on your best efforts on the track.

Long after the single player fun ends, Need For Speed: The Run does feature an extensive multiplayer mode that allows players to compete for numerous bonuses on any given race. After spinning the bonus wheel, depending on what it lands on, new cars can be awarded, bonus xp, and other prizes are for the taking when racing in any of the games themed playlists. The themed playlists each feature challenge sets, which will net you further xp, or bigger and badder vehicles. Each playlist only allows for certain types of vehicles, whether that be muscle cars, exotic racers, NFS Underground cars, Supercars, or a mix of them all. The multiplayer can at times be great fun, especially on races that feature decent straightaways, but getting online drivers to not wreck you at every chance they get, is an exercise in futility. For multiplayer its straight up arcade racing, but it definitely lacks some of the appeal of Hot Pursuit.

The Verdict

Need For Speed: The Run is a fun, fast-paced, arcade racer with a great presentation. It’s not the best arcade racer ever made, but between the engaging single player and long lasting social features, it could definitely scratch that itch for fans that are looking to trade some paint and get to the finish line first, above all else.

"meh"
meh

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PS3
  • Published By: EA
  • Developed By: EA Black Box
  • Genre: Racing
  • US Release Date: November 2011
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "Need For Speed: The Run is a fun, fast-paced, arcade racer with a great presentation. It's not the best arcade racer ever made, but between the engaging single player and long lasting social features, it could definitely scratch that itch for fans that are looking to trade some paint and get to the finish line first, above all else."
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