Mileage may vary: Need for Speed: Rivals game review

On November 24, 2013

Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, PS3 [Played] and PS4

Developer: Ghost Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Released: Nov. 19 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC; Nov. 15 for PS4 and Nov. 22 for Xbox One

Grade: C+

Blazing through Redview County at breakneck speeds in some of the world's most exclusive cars is exhilarating no matter which side of the law you are driving on.

Whether racing, taking a cruise or trying to shut down some hooligans with an unhealthy addiction to high speeds, Need for Speed: Rivals' fictional world of Redview County is gorgeous and diverse and provides hours of fun for players to experience both online and off.

The game itself, however, is like a new car. It's great to look at, fun to drive and has a nice interior, but after a few hundred miles, the polish starts to wear off and things start to go wrong.

Like previous Need for Speed games, Rivals offers the choice of playing as either a cop or a racer at any given time and loosely strings in a few story details as players progress through the ranks - gaining access to faster cars and upgrades.

Ranking up is as simple as completing "assignments" or "speed lists," which are sets of tasks and events the player has to accomplish. These events range from getting silver in a "Hot Pursuit" to spending a set amount of time in the air.

Both cops and racers have three different lists they can complete per rank. These lists allow players to play to their strengths and expose everything Rivals has to offer. As players become better, increasingly difficult variances of these challenges await.

Trivial as they may be at times, the reward of unlocking a new car to drive is well worth it - especially when players begin reaching the game's highest echelon of vehicles like the Bugatti Veyron, McLaren P1 or Lamborghini Veneno.

The dozens of cars within the game are as stunning and easy to drive as Redview County is to look at and navigate.

The game's world takes players from beachside towns to farm-filled countryside and then through mountainside tunnels in seconds, serving as a beautiful, refreshing backdrop for the pulse-pounding driving and vehicular carnage that fills every minute of the game.

Redview County may have a love/hate relationship with the cops and racers that fill its streets, but that doesn't stop the area from being jam-packed with races, time trials and events to keep players busy - which gains players "Speed Points" to buy new vehicles and upgrades.

Through "All-Drive," the game's offline and online modes seamlessly blend together. The balance of competitive and engaging multiplayer is commendable, but there is plenty of room for players to play on their own.

Rivals is at its best online when it isn't an AI patrol officer trying to hunt you down or beat you in a race, but, instead, your friends.

Though six people in any given multiplayer session can leave the game's sprawling world a bit sparse of human interactivity, the risk of losing all of your hard-earned speed points as a racer is never more tense than when it's your friend trying to send you back to your hideout empty handed. 

Fun as the game may be, the lack of variety eventually becomes the game's biggest downfall as aspects that once felt refreshing begin to feel increasingly familiar.

Other elements within the game, like its inconsistent crash damage, or how AI racers will either slingshot past the player from way behind or seemingly slow down if they are miles ahead, continue to deteriorate an otherwise enjoyable experience.

Need for Speed: Rivals is a lot of fun, especially with friends. Its ridiculously fast-paced races and chases are worth checking out, just be aware that the mileage each person will get out of the game will vary.



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