Video-game preview: ‘Need For Speed: Rivals’ is hands-on

Video-game preview: ‘Need For Speed: Rivals’ is hands-on

By Alex Martinet



On a clear day on an interstate highway, the table was set to make the perfect score. I was weaving in and out of traffic trying to further my distance from three police cars that were approaching my rear bumper. They have the gadgets to impede my progress, but I have one trick up my sleeve. “Need for Speed: Rivals” is the next installment in the racing franchise, and it’s a standout among the launch titles.

“Rivals” uses a simple concept and takes elements from other “Need for Speed” titles, including “Most Wanted,” “The Run” and “Hot Pursuit,” helping to make this the ultimate greatest hit for the series. “Hot Pursuit,” released in 2011, introduced the series-standard Autolog. Autolog is a crucial part of what makes the new game work. It tracks your career in “Rivals” by keeping tabs of your racing times, wins and losses, and how you race each individual track.

Cops vs. Racers returns to the series with a few minor tweaks. You have two separate career paths you can play through, each offering its own perks. Both have access to three separate cars types; the regular stock car, the enforcer and the undercover model. The enforcer is more suited to those who want to physically damage the opposition. Undercover is suited for those who like to use a sports vehicle, but you have to use it in a strategic way. The main difference between the two is the weaponized gadgets the cops possess. Cops can use everything from EMP blasts to spike strips to track down and hunt the most wanted. It’s a mad dash to the end for a racer desperately hoping to cross the finish line before being taken out. Cops is by far the easier path to play. It’s a great route for newcomers to test drive.

The new game is set in Redview County with the majority of the driving set in the country rather than the city. Mission activities vary from street racing from Point A to Point B to reaching a destination before an allotted amount of time, to beating your friend’s time on the leaderboards. The scale of “Rivals” is expansive with a variety of huge environments to play through. Free Roaming also makes its triumphant return. Along with Cops vs. Racers, this helps make this game a deep and rewarding experience.

Multiplayer is always active, even when you aren’t playing. Autolog and free rooming have been combined in a new way. When you start a job, the game will initiate while processing the multiplayer lobby at the same time. Players are driven to have their own goals, thus making each online experience unique. Activities are designed for multiple people to jump in and out, creating s seamless online experience.

“Need for Speed: Rivals” will include a single-player storyline similar to the 2011’s “The Run,” but very few details are available regarding this mode. Racing stories still occupy a niche that hasn’t been covered; however, keep your expectations low. “Need for Speed: Rivals” takes many elements from “Hot Pursuit,” enough, in fact, to consider this a sequel. However, it does so many clever things with its online ecosystem that I am excited about the possibilities when the Autolog community starts racing.

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