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Need for Speed puts The Fast and the Furious back into street racing

Hayden Dingman | July 2, 2015
Neon lights. Spoilers. Ten-second cars. Spinning rims. Tinted windows. Nitrous. Streets that always seem slightly wet. The crowds. The cops.

Unfortunately I didn't get a ton of time to mess with the new decal system--I'm curious both whether it finally approaches the level of customization available in Forza (a.k.a. basically limitless) and whether you can share your creations online. One of my favorite parts of Forza Horizon is checking out all the dumb stuff the community's made.

It did bring back that "street racing" vibe, though. Rivals had a bit of that, but the customization wasn't nearly as fluid and it played it more straight than this new Need for Speed--I think one of the reps in our demo even said you could put a spoiler on a spoiler now? Either someone said that or I was hallucinating from the Los Angeles heat. I don't know which.

Also of note: Your aesthetic changes are largely separate from your tuning changes. And I don't just mean your paint job. For instance, you can change your tires to look however you'd like, but then adjust how much they grip/drift independently.

Once we'd finished tinkering we got kicked out into the world for ten minutes of driving. Here, Need for Speed showed off what it's calling its new "Five Ways to Play" system (FWTP). It's...not quite new, and more like a refinement of what we've seen previously.

You earn points based on five different criteria: Speed, Style, Build, Crew, and Outlaw. Speed is pretty obvious. When you go fast, you earn points. Style is about drifting. Build involves your customized car. Crew scores points by driving alongside others. Outlaws mess with cops. Think of it as "All the ways you already scored points and gained experience in Need for Speed except split out into five different categories."

The FWTP system is key to scoring, at least in our demo (and presumably in the full game). Coming in first is still great, but scoring more points in FWTP--by drifting, by pulling agro on the cops, et cetera--is just as important. Actually more important, for our demo. We had a real-time leaderboard updating with the eight of us playing. I led for most of the round thanks to non-stop drifting, but slipped into second in the last few seconds thanks to someone banking a few thousand points at once.

It's an interesting system, albeit one that encourages some strange behavior. For instance, I signed up for an event that charged me with setting the fastest lap time out of a group of contestants. After screwing up halfway through the first lap I realized I could just leave. It would take me precious minutes to finish my busted first lap and try again, so I left the "track" and scored more points by drifting around random corners.

 

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