At the Audi Quattro Rooms on the 25th August in London, everyone prepared to embark on the race of their lives. Drinks had been put down, Hors D’oeuvres were no longer being offered around, and the tension was palpable. The scent of adrenaline hung in the air, or it could have been sweat – it was a hot day. The racers took their places behind the wheels, or controllers, for two very different demo tracks from the upcoming Need For Speed: The Run. Before this night was over, many would fall – mostly due to alcohol.
The Need For Speed franchise has gone through a series of transitional stages and different styles of racing, but it was good to see and experience the arcade style of Need For Speed: The Run. This game offers some intense experiences and it’s refreshing to know that the Need For Speed franchise keeps offering something new to players, alongside solid gameplay and top notch visuals.
It had been a while since being behind the wheel, but I was interested to see what this latest racing game had to offer. The first demo that was made available was “Run for the Hills“, where I was challenged to overtake 10 opponents along a dusty length of desert road. It took a little while to get a proper feel for the car, as I found myself drifting back and forth across the road. But before long I was cruising along the black asphalt at speed. It was exciting as I drove along at full pelt, trying my best to pass rival and civilian cars along the way. Each time I pass another vehicle, or decide to nudge/crash other cars out of the way, the game rewards me with some XP.
As I approach the end of this journey, the game presents me with a massive jump, at which point I veer off the side of the road, crahsed and burned. Fortunately, the game automatically rewinds me to a previous checkpoint and I was able to cross the finish line with the required passes. The game’s Autolog features make a note of all of your progress and how many rewinds or resets have taken place. In my case, it was quite a few, which I will blame on it taking some time to get a hang of the controls. Once I had conquered the controls, I found myself taking the corners well and felt confident enough to push down on the nitro for an extra boost when I needed it.
The next demo I tried was one that I recognized from Gamescom, “Buried Alive“. My car was set on the side of a icy snow covered mountain road called Independence Pass in Colorado as I prepared for a hazardous head to head race. Playing as Jack, you must race against an opponent across the snow covered mountains and try to avoid being buried alive in this part of your high-speed journey across America, heading for your final destination of New York.
As it was a head to head race, I only had to pass one car to move from my current position, but I found myself constantly overwhelmed with the man-made avalanches that seemed intent on stopping me from making any progress. The terrain is treacherous and dangerous as I slipped around each snow covered corner. I felt the urge to press down hard on my accelerator and just speed as fast as I could along this icy road, but my car had other ideas as it approached every tight, slippery corner or hazard in the road. The life threatening situations forced me into many last minute decisions, choosing whether to take the longer, possibly safer, route and lose some valuable time, or put faith in your driving skills and take a short cut. With the clock ticking away, I was left with some difficult choices to make and some hard lessons to learn.
There were many obstacles trying to obstruct my progress, such as falling snow and giant boulders where the debris falls away from the Cliffside and tries to smash into the side of my car. Swerving and negotiating my way around these hazards takes a little getting used to as I hadn’t prepared for myself for such a catastrophic journey. Carefully, but quickly, I headed into the safety of the tunnel which marks the end of this race.
The two tracks that I had the chance to play both got the adrenaline pumping and kept my nerves on the edge. DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine enhanced the games’ graphics in a stunning way, giving a crisp and polished cinematic feel that made a lasting impression on what possibly could be the most exciting and exhilarating drive of my life. Need For Speed: The Run will be available for Xbox360, PS3, PC and Wii on November 18th.