Need for Speed Rivals Review: The Best Need for Speed to Date?

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[youtube] The Need for Speed racing game series has always been about fast-paced action, as you drive the latest and hottest sports cars through an assortment of realistically-rendered locations, sometimes with the police on your tail. The latest installment, Need for Speed: Rivals, stays true to the tried and tested formula, but offers a rich, more engaging gameplay experience.


Unlike in the other games in the series, there is no pretense of a story in Rivals. All the player has to do is choose a side -- racer or cop -- as he or she sets out to defeat the other side in various challenges involving hot cars. The action takes place in Redview County, a fictional area of the United States filled with many unique locations and unseen trails just begging to be discovered. While there is no story, the ability to unlock new levels and cars, as well as numerous other perks, provide plenty of motivation to see challenges to the end.


The gameplay in Need for Speed: Rivals is solid and is arguably the best yet in the franchise. It combines the best bits from each of its predecessors, such as the awesome open world experience that made Most Wanted the best game in the series, and the fast-paced driving and cop chases that made Hot Pursuit a cult hit. A dynamic weather system greatly contributes to the game’s sense of realism. [youtube] Speed points are gathered as you play, which can be used to customize your car in many different ways. And as expected, there are many sports cars and supercars to choose from, and they all look and feel great. As a racer, you can enhance them with such cool features as nitrous or turbo boosts; as a cop, your options include spike strips, electric shocks, and numerous other gadgets that shut down any illegal racer. Considering that we have seen most of the cop weapons in Hot Pursuit, a little more variety would have been appreciated. [youtube]


The multiplayer system is a key highlight of Rivals. Called ‘AllDrive’ and described as "destroying the line between single player and multiplayer", it blends seamlessly with single-player mode, allowing players to transition from single-player mode to playing with friends almost seamlessly. Co-op play is also part of the packaged experience.

Graphics & Sound

As hinted earlier, Rivals is the best-looking Need for Speed game to date, benefiting from some of the latest in graphic technologies. Complementing the nicely-detailed and rendered cars are beautifully-imagined locations that sometimes make you want you to pull over to take in the scenery. Like the graphic, there was no corner-cutting with the game's sound. The cars sound as they should, while the selection of background music is composed of the latest in rock, hip hop and dubstep. Everything sounds great, adding to the impressive sense of immersion.


In the end, Need for Speed: Rivals brings a solid racing experience that will surely be fun for anyone remotely interested in fast cars and driving fast. Even if it suffers from a lack of variety at times, it more than makes up for it by giving us a detailed game world that we can easily sink hours into. And for that, it gets an 8 out of 10.

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