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Need for Speed: The Run is Electronic Arts’ newest installment in the long-running franchise and the next try at restoring the series back to its glory days. After long hours of race after race, and car after car, EA convinced me it is taking a step backwards yet again by providing one of the biggest letdowns of the year.
With hype surrounding the title, gamers are up in arms about EA’s new story-driven approach in The Run. Taking the series in an entirely new direction, EA’s hope is to return the series to its former self-full of innovation and quality. Hiring Michael Bay, well-known film director of the Transformers films, started the new approach by directing the trailer for the game. Bringing in a big time director for the trailer was supposed to get people’s attention. It was a success in doing that, and even brought a little faith and hope to the franchise, however short lived it might be.
From the franchise’s introduction in the mid 90’s, Need for Speed made a name for itself by providing racers with a huge library of cars, always entertaining tracks and a new, imaginative approach to racers. As the demand for the series skyrocketed, so did the production, but as time passed, EA tried to make too many of the games, and the quality suffered tremendously. As this happened, sales dropped substantially, and a total reboot was in order. The first reboot product was Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, released last year, and critics raved that Need for Speed was back on track.
Now, in an industry full of good, quality racing games such as Forza, Burnout and Gran Turismo, the need to stay on top has never been more present. Need for Speed: The Run was supposed to be the outstanding continuation of the series, but instead, falls short of expectations and it is doubtful that it will match its predecessor’s success.
The Story is the Fast and the Furious Gone Wrong
After seeing the trailer for the first time, I thought the game looked absolutely intense. I was never overly thrilled with the storytelling of Need for Speed games, but this one looked to be the one to change it all. The story revolves around Jack Rourke, who is singled out by the mob. Needing a lot of money to pay them off, he takes a job to race across the U.S. to hopefully change his luck. To me, it sounds like you could do a lot with that premise, and the trailer portrayed the story as nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, playing the story mode won’t give you much more insight than that in regards to the main character and why he races across country for the cash.
Although it does try to present a “story,” the cut scenes (movie-like animated sequences) are unexciting and at times downright cliché. The dialogue tries to be dramatic, but ends up being a minimal attempt at something that could have been special. At the end of the day, it was too generic and never goes into any detail about the mob or why Jack owes the money.
Another point of game play implemented in the newest installment is the button mashing cut scenes, which made it even worse. I was thoroughly disappointed with the story and pressing certain buttons at certain times to break away from the cops or run away provided a crushing blow to the game that promised an awe inspiring story with its trailer.
RESET, RESET, RESET
Whew, while playing through the game and now writing this review, the word, reset, keeps playing over and over in my brain. Need for Speed: The Run has incorporated a new way to keep its games a little less monotonous while also providing a “redo” if something goes wrong. They chose to bring this in, and I’m getting off the fence and walking away from this new “help.”
I do welcome any help to the Need for Speed series in changing the restarts. I don’t know about the rest of the racing gamers out there, but I thoroughly despise getting to the end of the race, having kept the lead the entire time and then losing in the last second. That forces you to start all over again and have the outcome up in the air every time. The idea of the reset is one of absolute genius. However, the idea on paper isn’t realized well in the game.
The game resets too many times with terrible reasoning. For instance, there is an out of bounds to the racetrack. At times, you can drive a little off the track, and it will reset you to the last checkpoint you crossed. This is extremely frustrating when you have veered off just a little to avoid an obstacle or to pass an opponent, knowing you can easily counteract your mistake and be fine. Instead, it will reset to a previous time often too far in the past causing curse words to spew out and controllers to be thrown.
It will also reset if you lose the race or wreck the car. For me, it was hard to watch as it reset every time I crashed into something. This is the Need for Speed series, which I thought meant I could use my usual method of crashing into all types of objects and still be able to keep going. I was wrong in this assumption. The reset is all knowing and will not allow crazy driving shenanigans.
Overall, the resetting was too much to handle. If the kinks are worked out, it would be something nice to have as an option, but until then, it should be left out.
Not all of Need for Speed: The Run is wrecked though. The story and some design flaws weigh it down heavily, but EA does reset to a time of quality over quantity in some parts, offering more than meets the eye.