Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Need for Speed: The Run

As of late, the Need for Speed franchise has taken a new direction in an attempt to reinvent itself. So far it's working quite well, with great new entries coming out at a rapid pace. Titles such as Hot Pursuit and Shift 2 Unleashed have done very well, and the latest entry, Need for Speed: The Run, is hoping to continue the trend. The question is, can it live up to the new standard?

Great cars and great environments.

The new game's development was led by Black Box, who have a reputation with Need for Speed. Previous games in the franchise produced by the company were notorious for strange storylines that caused the games to suffer. After the admittedly poor quality of Undercover, to hear that Black Box was in charge of another NFS game was startling. Would it be a success, or would it crash and burn?

San Francisco's iconic hills are best tackled with some American muscle.

The answer is success. The Run is an incredibly fun game to play. It creates a tangible, if not a bit far-fetched, storyline that truly engages the player. The premise of the game is a totally illegal race from San Francisco to New York City. Over 200 competitors in souped-up cars are racing all-out in hopes of winning the grand prize, $25 million. You play as Jack Rourke, an expert driver who needs the cash to settle some problems with the mob.

New York wouldn't be complete without taxi cabs.

Over the course of the game, you race through the USA, which is divided into stages. Each race increases your position, with the goal of being in first at New York. Environments include snowy mountains, desert highways, urban cities, and country backroads. With a little help from Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine, the graphics are incredible. This game is a visual masterpiece.

Making the Duke boys proud.

Naturally, every race needs cars, and The Run has a truly unique lineup. Classic muscle cars compete with tuned imports, and supercars duel with exotics. There's something for everybody. Unfortunately, almost half of the cars are modified variations of other cars. There are at least three Datsun Fairlady Z's, for example. As much as I like Datsuns, that space could have gone to another entirely new car. Still, the included cars are very good, with cars such as the Lamborghini Aventador, Pontiac Firebird Formula, and BMW M3 GTS.

The 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302. A living legend.

Handling is a big concern for racing games. Some go with ultra realistic simulation handling, while others go with an arcadish style. The Run falls neatly in the middle, offering a realistic yet enjoyable setup that sets the game apart from it's competitors. As usual, the game features a boost system for a little extra performance, and a respawn feature in case you accidently clip a telephone pole at 200 mph. Ouch.

This is my kind of bullfight.

Online features for the game are a blast, allowing you to compete against other players for rewards like new cars, profile icons, and bonus points. Playlists dedicated to specific car types help you play how you want to play, and teaming up with friends gives you extra rewards. A single-player Challenge Series consists of races and events that are guaranteed to keep you entertained. There's plenty to do in a game like this.

The police will often come at you with everything they've got, so stay sharp.

Now every game has its shortcomings, and The Run is definitely not excluded. The storyline feels short, making the player wish there was more. The car list is occasionally repetitive, and some tracks seem way harder than others. However, the pros outweigh the cons. The modes are diverse and enthralling, the action is intense, and the visuals are often breathtaking. If you want a racing game, The Run is a great candidate. But don't take my word for it, go out and play it for yourself!


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