Neon lights. Spoilers. Ten-second cars. Spinning rims. Tinted windows. Nitrous. Streets that always seem slightly wet. The crowds. The cops.
I'll admit it: I've missed this side of Need for Speed. I've missed the over-the-top, The Fast and the Furious side of this series.
And yes, I do need to specify The Fast and the Furious, as in "the first film in the series." It's not just Need for Speed that moved on from the car-modding, underground street racing scene. We all have. Which is why it's maybe--just maybe--the perfect time to bring it back.
I think the last time I really cared about Need for Speed was 2011. That was the year of Need for Speed:The Run's crazy America-spanning race, and while it wasn't perfect by any means it was at least a novel concept (in a pre-The Crew world). In 2012 we got Most Wanted, which--while it had some surreal cutscenes--had no real personality. It was a lifeless city with lifeless cars, and suffered next to Forza Horizon's killer soundtrack and music festival atmosphere. And then 2013 brought us Rivals which was...well, it was pretty much just Most Wanted again except online.
And then Need for Speed took a year off.
It wasn't that Need for Speed got bad. Most Wanted and Rivals were perfectly competent games, aside from some PC port issues. But in any case, it wasn't quality or polish that was the problem.
Need for Speed got bland. That's the only way I can describe it. I played all the way through Most Wanted and Rivals and probably enjoyed myself, but I'll be damned if I can remember a single notable moment from either game except that Most Wanted featured Icona Pop's "I Love It," and that song is great for racing games.
All this to say: What I'm most excited about with Need for Speed is it has some sort of personality. I don't know whether it'll be good--the E3 trailer made me cringe. It's the same sort of faux-street talk that made The Crew 's story a grind, in fact.
But I admire Need for Speed for distinguishing itself again--even if, paradoxically, it distinguishes itself by resurrecting the ghost of its past self.
It starts with car customization, which EA made sure to give us time with. We only had a handful of cars to choose from for the demo, but the amount of aesthetic tinkering you can do is impressive. Need for Speed's really stepped up its game in this department, with dozens of categories and dozens of items per category.
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