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Need for Speed (PC) review: Excellent port, uneven game

Hayden Dingman | March 10, 2016
Brought to you by Monster Energy Drink

The police are so nonthreatening it’s almost laughable. After complaints about overly-aggressive and omniscient police in Rivals, the devs overcompensated. This Need for Speed might as well replace the police cars with a fat mall cop on a Segway. Certain challenges ask you to raise your wanted level and I had to literally slow down so the police wouldn’t lose sight of me and force me to start over.

The game touts customization but only gives you room in your garage for five cars, and the range of customization for each is uneven. For instance, my 1970 Mustang had no alternate headlights or taillights, no alternate skirts, no alternate canards, no alternate mirrors, and only one alternate hood. An Aventador or higher-end car typically has even fewer options. It doesn’t feel nearly as broad as something like Need for Speed Underground.

And some minor quibbles: There’s no way to pause the game—which is particularly annoying in the first few races when you’re still trying to fiddle with graphics settings—and the soundtrack is utterly forgettable, not least because it’s mixed so low it sounds almost like an afterthought. I eventually turned it off entirely and pumped the Need for Speed Underground soundtrack through Spotify.

Bottom line

Either you never thought Need for Speed was top of the arcade racing pack or (like me) you at least think they abdicated the crown a long while back. I don’t anticipate much dispute there, and this Need for Speed is unlikely to put them back on top. A lot of love’s been put into this PC port, but the game that’s been ported over is a mediocre arcade racer at best.

Need for Speed still seems like it’s searching for its place in the world, post-Burnout Paradise and post-Forza Horizon—which is crazy, because at this point the Burnout series is dead and Forza Horizon is Xbox-only. It should be a cinch for Need for Speed to take over the PC arcade racing contingent. And yet.

Fist bump.

 

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