It's certainly a bit unique for a racing game to try and be a summer blockbuster, but even if this game seems at odds with itself right now, I still like that Black Box is setting a unique goal. The game did not short me on the action during the race in the demo, so step one seems to be complete. I avoided explosions, was shot at by a helicopter, chased by police and bared down on by an oncoming train, and this all happened as I flew through amazing looking rainy and dark city streets. In other words, the new Frostbite 2 engine is hard at work here.
That being said, this game is one of the more confusing games I have seen at the show. The game is using the fantastic Autolog technology to track all of your times, but the game seems to be structured around very linear levels with scripted big-budget action sequences. Multiplayer could obviously add a new layer of depth and add more varied racing, but what I played here does not seem like it plays into the Autolog's strengths like some of the other EA racing games that have used it.
In addition, the quicktime events never change or vary, and they don't factor into your times. They are clearly there to help drive the story and provide another layer of action, but again, these sequences seem at odds with Autolog -- otherwise known as the feature that tends to drive your desire to play levels over and over again. Maybe other levels will provide diverging paths where there are at least different quicktime events you can run into, but I still only foresee myself wanting to do these quicktime events a single time.
The driving model seems to be a mix of Shift 2 Unleashed and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. The game does not want to be as forgiving as Hot Pursuit, but the driving model is still loose enough to not make you feel like you have to be a pro to nail your lines when speeding through gunfire and explosions. In short, the driving model fits the type of action game Black Box is shooting for here.
The linearity could conceivably giveth and taketh away in The Run.
It will be interesting to see how the apparent linearity at work here will play against EA's Autolog feature. As of now, I'm excited about the possibility of a summer blockbuster tied together with a racing game, but it's concerning that I don't foresee much of a reason to try races again and again to beat times my friends post. For example, Split/Second had a similar racing linearity tied together with big-budget moments, but those moments stayed relatively fresh because you always used those "wow" moments to hurt your opponents or help you succeed. In this demo, you are going through the same quicktime events and action sequences, and they never change or affect the gameplay in different ways from race to race.