Need for Speed Rivals
Published by: Electronic Arts
Rating: Everyone 10+
Available On: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC
Need for Speed is one of the longest-running franchises in the games industry. The first game, The Need for Speed, debuted in 1994. In the 19 years since, there’s been a Need for Speed game on every major platform, including handhelds, Android, and iOS. Need for Speed has long been the go-to title for fans of arcade racing – it doesn’t have the realism of Gran Turismo or Forza, but makes up for it with fun physics, customizable cars, police chases, and other unique features.
Need for Speed Rivals carries on in this tradition, and does so well. If you’re looking for a racing sim where physics matter and your choice in tire actually has a noticeable effect on your gameplay, Rivals isn’t it. However, if you’re looking for a fast, furious, and fun racing game with a unique twist, it’s one of the best Need for Speed games released in a long while, and as the first cross-platform racer available on the next-gen consoles, it sets a solid standard for the future to come.
In Rivals, you take the role of either a racer or a cop. You can switch between roles at any time. As you win events, you’ll unlock new cars and items. These can then be used to win even tougher challenges, thus unlocking even better cars. It’s a basic racing game setup: win races, get stuff. The unlock tree is well-designed and never feels like a chore, and the ability to swap sides when you’re feeling bored with one or the other (or particularly frustrated by a challenge) is a welcome thought.
Need for Speed Rivals isn’t a “pure” racing game. Instead, it’s more like a Mario Kart. As you win events, you’ll unlock a host of offensive and defensive items you can use to improve your odds on the road. Spike strips, mines, and other hilariously fun items are all at your disposal. Whether you’re playing as a steadfast cop looking to end the run of a particularly enthusiastic band of racers or as one of those gearheads making a run from the fuzz, you’ll find plenty of variety in the ways you can accomplish your objectives.
The game is mostly well executed, but there are a few shortcomings. Customization, one of the most interesting and compelling elements of the Need for Speed series, is a bit limited in Rivals. Cops can’t do much to their cars beyond equipping them with items. And Hot Pursuit events, in which you must evade the police, don’t necessarily end at the finish line. Police will continue to chase you, meaning you can still potentially lose your progress even after successfully completing the event.
All in all, Need for Speed Rivals is an excellent Need for Speed game and one of the best new titles out for the next-gen consoles. You don’t need a new system for Rivals, of course, but if you’re picking up an Xbox One or PS4, you may as well snag rivals as well (unless you’re really into one of the exclusive racing franchises). It’s not a perfect game, but it’s so fun you probably won’t even notice.