For now what we'll be doing here at Operation Sports is posting a quick look detailing some of our initial thoughts on sports titles at E3. Once we play more of these games throughout the week we will post more fleshed out hands-on impressions this week and next.
In addition, if you have questions about the game you would like us to ask developers, feel free to post them. We can't guarantee we'll get them answered -- and it's probably better to not get too crazy specific -- but what we do get answered we'll post here on OS as well at some point. The same goes for if you just want to hear more about something we talked about in the article(s). For example, "hey dude, you talked about how the dribbling feels different, can you talk more about that?"
The folks at EA and Ghost Games are very confident in their latest incarnation of the Need for Speed franchise, which they have allowed to stand on its own (i.e. no subtitle). The game features the kitchen-sink approach to game design, with footholds for casual and hardcore players alike. This is a “reboot” -- in the exact words of the developers.
Here are some of my quick impressions from the game, which I was able to play today in a behind-closed-doors session at E3:
-Frostbite is here to stay. This game engine is being leveraged across EA for good reason, as the visuals here are quite something. It helps that everything in the demo took place at night, with amazing lighting work along the streets that evoked urban nightlife in the right way. The pavement detail was just as impressive, showing insane levels of fidelity on each curb, crevice and crack. Motion blur was used on some of the turns, but even that stuff looked great. Car detail was up there with the likes of Forza, but I get the feeling the selection of cars in this game won’t be as robust.
-The demo allowed some customization at the start, which is quite bananas for anyone who is into this level of detail. Not only were there about 30 elements of each car that you could manipulate (body kits, spoilers, rims, windows, etc.), but there was an absolutely crazy amount of car tuning that you could mess with. Tire pressure, downforce, grip, brake bias and about 25 other categories could be modified.
-The main part of the demo involved some free-roaming in a controlled area, with several race-and-chase activities as well as unstructured mayhem. It was cool that everyone could sort of come together and then fly away, and the score for each player was counting up based on what people were doing -- drifting, evading, speeding, crashing, pursuing.
-The concept of “five ways to play” fed into the scoring, as raw speed would net points, but so would near-misses and drifts. Racing as a crew has a separate score total, as does racing like an outlaw (read: messing with the cops). Finally, the build score was amplified by tweaking your car and succeeding with it.
-The scoring at the end of a game was a nice touch, as it would highlight the overall winner but also the individual category winners. Someone could take solace in the fact that they were the speediest, even if they didn’t take the overall crown.
-For fans of the cheesy narratives of previous NFS games, it seems like you’ll be right at home here. I hope it doesn’t get too serious, as the right amount of “bad” is needed in order to make it good. Know what I mean?
-The mini-map and augmented reality checkpoints and HUD looked good, with some subtle visual cues on where you should be going and what score multipliers were happening.
The early outlook is positive for Need for Speed. I’m excited about the opportunities for eight-player chaos, and the multiple ways to succeed seems like a good way to reward those who only want to play a certain style (or two). The limited car selection might be an issue, but the absurd number of ways you can cosmetically and mechanically mess with your ride is something that many will lose themselves in. I’m hopeful that the online has a big enough playground and varied activities.