(Previously… Star Wars: The Force Unleashed)


There are more racing games than there are insects.

To set one’s self apart in the congested world of thrifty car action you have to bring something new to the table, let you fall into the mire. In addition to all the great racing games out there products like Grand Theft Auto and their clones exist who showcase worthy enough car driving mechanics (get it?) muddy the mix further. Need for Speed (BUY IT) is a robust franchise dating back to my beloved 3DO machine (I will accept no arguments that it was a special system both for its value as a cautionary tale and excellent platform for my smiles) and through the years it’s always been important. It’s not as deep or authentic as a Project Gotham or Gran Turismo game but not as simplistic or flashy as a Blur or Burnout game. It’s its own thing, and one that has allowed gamers to keep getting new installments every couple of years as it bounces from straightforward to open world in its approach while being given the kind of resources few companies can provide. EA is definitely one of those companies.

Interestingly enough, the Burnout team (speaking of a series that needs to go back to its roots) is in charge of this installment and if the glorious car crashes are any indication, they haven’t forgotten how to do their thing. This is more lean and focused, allowing players to choose which side of the law they want to be on and with a heavy emphasis on online racing.

I plopped the disc in my machine and give it my all for two hours.


That’s my car. Exactly in the same color and everything! I unlocked my own car. Amazing.

The spit and polish on this game is phenomenal. The cars (including the traffic, which is filled with normal cars too) are all licensed and spot-on in their presentation. There’s something to be said about the way these folks have done their best to reproduce the look, feel, performance, and most importantly… SOUND of these vehicles. After going through the required introduction I was on my merry way.

The game starts you off as a street racer, so the first few little races involve just getting the hang of things and in rolling out features and types of contests to prepare the gamer for what’s in store. Soon, the cops show up and there’s the issue of racing your opponents while dodging the law, though it’s not meant to really challenge.

  • Fifteen minutes into this dashing bold adventure and my car has flipped off the road into a tree. Not into it, like a treehouse, but where cars do not belong. That is a sign I must need a better understanding of turns and how to use my brakes. The last Need for Speed game I really dug was a platform ago and it was considerably more arcade-y than this.

  • Twenty minutes into the game I have unlocked my exact car, the Mazda RX-8. Though it’s like the 2nd or 3rd car you unlock and there’s nothing exotic near it, I do admit to being quite prideful to have unlocked the exact car I own and in the exact same color. The fantasy will end in a few hours when I drive fifteen miles an hour through traffic on my Trail of Tears home.


Still my car. My car gets replaced by expensive sexy ones lickedy-split.

  • Thirty minutes into my life as a total wretch a mission allowing me to be a new recuit pops up and after having played a menace in so many games in recent memory, I choose to uphold the law by chasing, smashing, and leaving traps and tricks for my adversaries. It’s the least I can do. I create a backstory for my character involving bad choices, worse liquor, and a rusty old Chevy Chevette and I have all I need to be motivated as a man of the polyester.

  • Thirty-Eight minutes in I am promoted to officer, which must mean I must have showcased a nice balance of swagger, lack of fairness, bullying nature, and one bitch bastard of a mustache. I have been a cop for eight minutes and I can boss lesser beings around.

  • I continue to move up in rank over the next hour and a half, going from mission to mission with relative ease while the beautifully rendered scenery pisses by. Over time I am gifted EMP charges that disable the electronics of a car, road blocks that hurt and slow them, and tire strips that, if dropped correctly, will send their rubber to Smithereentown.

  • It’s terrific fun, and that’s without the online component taken into play. Its fun and though the dozen or so missions I went on didn’t drastically change, there was enough variety to keep me smiling and engaged. There’s never the fear of running out of vehicles because it seemed to unlock a new one every other mission.

  • The last thirty minutes of my gaming session infuriates me, because some of the missions require you to make it to the scene of a roadblock in a specified time with three levels of success being possible. The problem is that every time you hit something it subtracts a second from your score. It gets infuriating because sometimes you simply can’t see another car until you’re upon it and then you’re screwed. Even in using the shortcuts hidden throughout the courses (which in turn lead to more collisions), it is maddening at times.

But overall, I love the game. Absolutely love it. It’s perfectly braindead for my needs and doesn’t try to be some open world thign where you have to follow a dumb storyline or pay too much attention to maps. We get enough of that in other games.

GOOD

  • It’s a stunning game to look at.
  • The driving mechanics are easy to get comfortable with yet have enough nuance to maintain interest.
  • Different cars perform different in real life and that’s certainly the case here as I learned quickly when trying to make a Lambo do what a Suzuki had done the race before. Nope.
  • The online component is massive and the replayability is as well.
  • The crashes are as great as you’d expect from the Burnout folks.
  • It’s as slick as slick gets and if you don’t get a little caught up in the beauty and photorealism of the graphics you’re a jaded individual.

BAD

  • Those time trials suck hard ass.
  • The music they package the game with is typical EA, and therefore typically horrible.
  • Amish people will get nothing out of this game.
  • Otherwise, smooth sailing ahead. Here’s a peek at my personal experience: