Need for Speed Rivals PS4 buy
Available on Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Criterion’s stewardship of Need for Speed has been the best thing to happen to EA’s venerable racing franchise, transforming a tired, has-been, trying-too-hard-to-be-cool arcade racer into a revitalised contender that actually deserves its mammoth sales. 2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was comfortably the best Need for Speed of the HD console era, while 2012’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted was a gripping remake of a flawed classic. It’s a bit of a concern, then, that the Need for Speed: Rivals isn’t a Criterion production, but the work of a new studio, Ghost Games. Are we back to the horrors of Need for Speed: Underground 2, or – worse – the woeful Need for Speed: The Run?
Thankfully not. Amongst the staff at Ghost Games you’ll find alumni from the Need for Speed team at Criterion, plus developers who worked on Forza Horizon, Project Gotham Racing, Shift 2: Unleashed and RACE Pro, and that experience shows. Need for Speed: Rivals isn’t just a stunning next-gen debut for Need for Speed, but an arcade racer worthy of comparison with the best of the Burnout series, Forza Horizon, the sadly overlooked Split/Second and the aforementioned Hot Pursuit. Give us a little more time before we say for definite, but it might even be the best Need for Speed ever made.
The basic setup takes the best from Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Like the former, it focuses on the war between cops and illegal racers over vast stretches of open road – in this case 100 miles of dirt and tarmac crossing the fictional Redview County. Like Most Wanted the open world is packed with ready-made events, which you can trigger as you pass through their markers with a tap of a bumper. Like Hot Pursuit, it has careers for both cops and racers, giving you two different sets of events, missions, cars to unlock and ‘pursuit tech’ upgrades to install. The game even has a kind of storyline, though it’s an onobtrusive effort that doesn’t force you to watch endless z-movie cut scenes.
What Rivals brings that’s new to the part is a system it calls AllDrive. Hot Pursuit introduced the idea of Autolog, where the game actively pits you against your Xbox Live or PSN friends, comparing achievements, finishing times and progress so that you were playing with each other, even when you weren’t doing so at the same time. AllDrive takes a different tack, signing up to six racers into its open world, and breaking down all the barriers between solo and online play.
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