Rivals is like of a knock off version of one of it's many super cars
3,202SRP: £54.99The first Need for Speed game was released in 1994, 20 titles and 20 years later the series still shows no signs of fading away. Its certainly had its ups (Most Wanted, 2005 or 2012, take your pick) and its downs (Carbon). It's even had a worthy contender to the throne in the shape of Burnout until developers Criterion apparently sacrificed the series in order to take over the Need for Speed franchise. It's no surprise then that at the launch of the new console generation the one arcade racing title; the ying to Forza 5's or Gran Turismo 6's yang if you will; comes from this immortal racing franchise.
The well that seems to run deepest for the series these days is the Racers vs Cop mechanic, an aspect Rivals appears to be taking far too seriously. Im a big fan of popping funny or tongue in cheek quotes throughout my reviews, in this particular case I was spoiled for choice; almost every line is a pretentious cliche perching on the edge of parody just begging to be laughed at.
We are born free, resisting authority
Exterior StylingAs minor a part of the entire experience as this dialogue is; it is does highlight that much of the focus was placed on presentation, as a next generation game Rivals does it's job letting you know you aren't playing on a older system, light bloom and particle effects are everywhere, weather effects change frequently while every bush sheds a thousand leaves and each fence splinters into a hundred pieces as you crash through the open world.
Previous games of this ilk have become far more focused on urban labyrinths, their tight turns and multiple paths perfect for the cop evading mechanic at the heart of the experience. Redview offers an expansive map with over 100 miles of open road to explore, dotted with events and tasks across the varying environment which feels much more expansive than it's urban focused predecessors. Here you'll be back to cruising highways and racing towards the impressively rendered mountains in the distance, more often than not using excessive speed rather than cunning tactics to escape the boys in blue.
I am the life you're too scared to live.
Chassis & EngineThere are two hats you can wear whilst roaming the vast landscape, one is the straight laced visor hat of the RCPD (Redview County Police Department) and the other is the horse head mask of the middle finger waving racer.
Both are in search of speed points which are the currency used to upgrade, personalise vehicles or simply unlock new rides altogether. The racer career is the more engaging of the two, picking from events such as Race, Head to Head, Hot Pursuit, Rival Challenge or completing a rolling list of challenges will see the speed point total tot up, usually with your heat level and an ever more ferocious police force in tow.
In order to bank these points the racer must return to a safe house or risk losing them all if busted in the meantime. The more events you complete in one run the higher your multiplier gets and the more speed points you earn. It's a rather addictive risk reward system which heightens the thrill of speeding through the streets searching for one more event with a pocket full of swag as helicopters drops spike strips and ground units try and push you into the nearest wall, the satisfaction of living on the edge and banking a large total of points is a grin worthy, pulse pounding experience.
The cop experience is less exhilarating, a similar collection of events is available including Hot Pursuit, Interceptor, Rapid Response and a similar list of rolling objectives. They do get fed "High Value Targets" essentially racers with large amounts of unbanked speed points, busting them will net the cop a speed point reward but it fails to match the dice rolling gameplay of the racer career.
We are the end of your freedom, the shadow you cannot shake
HandlingThe driving mechanics are as friendly as they come , power sliding is the default position round every corner and a healthy dose of boost will get you both out of and into most hairy situations. The upgrades and personalisation system has some depth with reinforced chassis upgraded engines and weapons like EMP and Shockwave to equip; giving you other options in a pinch beyond "more right trigger". Likewise the selection of cars is deep but their variety is shallow, ranging from fast to faster and sideways round corners to...well slightly more sideways round corners. It becomes more about which car do you like looking at the rear of rather than which one is best for the job.
The next gen twist comes in the form of All Drive, the system that blends multiplayer and single player populating your world with up to 5 online players all competing in their own events which might just collide with yours. A player cop might decide you have too many speed points in your pocket and make it his mission to relieve you of them, that 15 minute police chase might just intersect with another players race or pursuit headed in the opposite direction at similarly ludicrous speeds resulting in some spectacular chaos or someone might flash their headlights and challenge you to an on the spot race.
Similarly it's entirely possible the that the online servers (it is an EA game after all) may be having issues or you simply might not cross paths with another player within the large map, during my play through I found it almost as unpredictable and unreliable as it was enjoyable.
You can't catch devils with angels
- Beautiful Graphics
- Racer gambling gameplay
- Unpredictable All Drive
- Events are all similar
- Silly cut scenes
- Unpredictable All Drive
Need For Speed: Rivals Xbox One ReviewNeed For Speed Rivals is a classic launch game; full of bravado and flashy effects assaulting your senses so you know why your bought your new console. Under the hood though it lacks the variety and depth we have come to expect from the very genre the series itself defines.
The map may look full with activities but they all boil down to A - B in the quickest time racing against someone or whilst being chased, there are no other activities to be had such as stunts, billboards or other events that deepen the experience and provide a break from the endless churn of career progression. The rewards of cars and personalisation don't provide enough variety to keep you motivated enough to sit through the cringe worthy presentation
There is fun to be had here and if it's arcade racing your after ultimately you don't have a great deal of choice right now. The speed point system does provide some free roam entertainment. When playing as the racer gambling your earnings for a bigger payout is when Rivals at it's best and when it works the All Drive system can add in the human element of chaos for better or for worse.
In the end though Rivals is like of a knock off version of one of it's many supercars, beautiful exterior and making all the right purring noises, but when you get inside and put your foot down you realise someone swapped out the engine and it's not quite as exciting as you thought would be.
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