It has been 2 years since Need for Speed Rivals came out and it's the first time since 2002 that we had a break in the annual Need for Speed release cycle. So what does this mean for the game and us, the fans? Well first thing first, the game's style is similar to that of Need for Speed Underground 2 from 2004. Think night environment, tuner culture, drifting events, open world where you can free roam, visual customization. Add to that cops and canyon races and what we have is an interesting blend of before mentioned Underground 2 and 2006's Need for Speed Carbon. All races are connected with a career mode that is wrapped around 5 different story lines where you follow 5 different icons in the car culture (click here for an introduction trailer). Following the story will have you transition between free roam driving, racing and filmed cut scenes that seamlessly transition from the game environment. Ghost is promising about 12h to complete all the career paths. For end game content we will have daily challenges, multiplayer and social features like sharing photos of your cars and getting reputation from likes from your friends.
Game world is promised to be big, twice the size of Rivals, divided into 6 districts each having unique features. Of the ones shown in the presentation, we could see the city with a cop presence and the mountain area with curvy roads and touge drift events. Unlike in Carbon, the canyons are connected directly with the city meaning that you can start a touge drift event on top of the mountain, drift all the way down the mountain, get involved with cops and finish in the city. It is similar with other events, drift events are done on the city streets and parking lots. The events usually have no boundaries which means you need to follow the path set out by glowing arrows.
Car customization is another thing that has finally returned and I'm sure it will make plenty of the fans happy as the amount of customizable items is bigger than usual. The standard parts are there, body kits, individual bumpers and skirts, spoilers, hoods, rims. Add to that diffusors, canards, lights (front and rear), window tint, mirrors and sound systems (supposedly actually changes the sound of the music). Although I am not really sure how many parts are there, it does seem like there will be plenty of possibilities. Vinyl editor was not shown, so I cannot comment on the quality of it. We were only shown full liveries. Befory anyone asks, there are no neons and hydraulics :)
Beside visual customization there is also peformance customization and performance tuning. With the first you should be able to turn any car in a competitive racer on any level, with the second you have several sliders which can make your car more or less drift like. This will apparently be quite important as the game focuses quite a lot on drifting and there is a big difference how a car handles if it is set up for grip or for drift.
When it comes to car handling, expect arcade controls, little braking required. As I mentioned before, there is a big difference between drift and grip setups so we you either have multiple cars for specific events or spend a lot of time in the performance tuning screens. I only drove a handful of cars, including the 2015 Mustang, the BRZ and the 180SX, but there is a noticable difference on how they handle. It is quite possible you will not be able to turn any car into a drift monster even with the right performance upgrades.
Need for Speed shows promise this year, this is for sure. I am actually pretty excited about the game as it is deviating away from the standard model of Rivals and Most Wanted 2012. It is trying to bring something fresh, or at least something not seen in a decade, back to the series and I really hope the full game coming out this holiday season will deliver.
Need for Speed First Impressions
First impressions of Need for Speed 2015 after playing the gamescom demo
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