Need For Speed Rivals Review (PS4)
The Need For Speed series has been a constant on consoles for almost 20 years, and while there have been many ups and downs for the series, it has always drawn interest from racing fans. The series has also seen its fair share of developers, from EA Canada, Slightly Mad Studios, Criterion, and now Ghost Games.
The minute you fire up the newest release, in Need For Speed Rivals, fans of the series will notice a familiar feel as it closely resembles Criterion's Need For Speed: Most Wanted(2012) and Hot Pursuit(2010). And while that’s not bad thing, fans who were looking for a change of direction because of a new development team, might come away a bit disappointed. To be fair though, Ghost Games is comprised of a lot of former Criterion staff, hence the familiar feeling to the game.
The open world of racing returns with Need For Speed Rivals, and this time because of the newly implemented ALLDrive, the three worlds of single player, co-op, and multiplayer have all merged together in one setting. What this means is simply everything you do in the fictitious Redview County will be done together. That’s right – friends, A.I., and others will now all be on a server at once, and it makes for some interesting gameplay.
The most important part of any racing game is obviously the driving and handling mechanics. While Need For Speed Rivals is an arcade racer at its core, it doesn’t mean the driving physics are unrealistic – in fact it is quite the opposite. Whether you have chosen the path of elite racer or an adamant enforcer of the law, each vehicle is unique and handles very differently. You will need to understand the strength and weakness of the vehicle you have chosen, in order to utilize it to its full potential. Certain vehicles exhibit an incredible amount of speed, while others will be able to withstand an excessive amount of damage. The bottom line is this, no matter what car you pick will need to understand how it handles at high speeds, how it corners, and the durability of it.
Obviously we are fan of the handling of the cars, and the immense sense of speed that is delivered when blazing down the highway, or trying to navigate a tough corner correctly, but the experience isn’t all about what you are doing, but also the environment that surrounds you also. As we spoke of earlier, Ghost Games has provided a unique experience in which you get the opportunity to race against friends, A.I., and random people who have jumped in on the server that you currently occupy. Regardless of your choice to be a racer or officer of the law, there is a good mixture of both, and you will never want for something to do.
Along with racing and chasing, Need For Speed Rivals also offers a ton of challenges through Easy Drive-Auto-log. Basically this is an in game system that keeps track of your record speeds, jumps, races, and overall record of all that you do in game. It pits you against each other as it constantly notifies you of who owns certain records, when they are broken and where you stand against them. If you are really a competitive person, this aspect can be very cool, if not, then the notifications will just start to blend in with the rest of the environment after awhile.
We also fill the need to mention that as much as we love the idea of ALLDrive, it only allows for up to six human opponents per server at once, and while that may sound OK with the interaction of A.I. opponents also, it’s not. Although there is only one map within the game, it is rather spacious for only six human opponents if that if that is the type of competition you are seeking. For the most part there is always someone to beat or someone to chase down - and a good deal of fun to be had.
Beautiful car models, lush environments and dramatic crashes make for a lot of eye candy to take in while blazing around at 150 mph. What’s even more impressive is the fact that we never a noticed any drop in frame rate regardless of how much action was taking place on the screen. It is true there is a lot to love about the visuals in Need For Speed Rivals, but we would have liked them to take the crash sequences further, with even more damage capability to either your car, the opponents, or both.
The map of Redview County does offer a wide variety of environments including winding woods, backwoods off-roading, small town blaze-throughs, and desert like settings. While they all look nice, no matter what the weather, it would have been nice to see the environment a bit more interactive, and bit less linear.
Although Need For Speed Rivals may not be a title that will be considered genre-defining or groundbreaking, it is still a quality title with beautiful visuals, an immense feeling of speed and a social connection to keep the game fresh. It may lack a bit in the overall variety department, and is held back somewhat by the constraints of a singular map, but if you are looking for a fun arcade experience with a burst of adrenaline, Need For Speed Rivals should fit the bill.
Learning Curve – Simple to pick up and drive, but it may take a bit of time to grasp the ability of all the cars and how to drive them.
Control Scheme – Once you understand the use of the d-pad and what it activates, the control scheme is pretty simple – especially if you any of the previous titles by Criterion
Visuals – Some grainy effects once in awhile, but truly one of the best looking launch titles for the PS4
Audio – The cars sound good, the sirens sounds better, and you can hear the environment around you. The voice-overs during the tutorial are forgettable, but doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience in the audio department.
Customization – If you’re looking to dramatically upgrade you vehicles and make them unique, you need to keep looking. While Need For Speed Rivals offers tech upgrades for each car, this game is not pimp my ride.
Value – There is a lot of value to be had in Rivals if you are looking for a quick pick up and play arcade racer, that you can share the experience with your online friends. If you looking for a deep career mode, that will push you to grind your way through, than you might be better off renting this title.
Score – 7.5 (Good)
Scoring Note: A 7.5 (Good) on our scale indicates the game is a solid game with a few flaws which hold it back from greatness. In this instance, a lack of overall single player depth with the singular map (which isn't as big as we feel it should be) and the lack of any movement forwards for the racing genre means this game is a good and playable title -- it just isn't great.