The Need for Speed (NFS) series is one of the most popular and the most productive driving games out there. But for the past few years Need for Speed has steered away from the car modification route, opting, instead, for a dedicated racing approach on the open road.
Rivals is the newest addition to the NFS family. And as usual it’s a frenetic and fast-paced affair, with sensory overload in mind. You get to choose two possible paths to explore: the adrenaline junkie racer, or the not so straight-laced cop. But you can alternate between the two throughout as you race your way to domination, or arrest those who try.
Rivals is an open-world, large-scale arena, and pits you against other players in the fictional Redview County, which features over 100 miles of roads that you can scream along as though you’ve sat on a wasp. If opting for the racer the aim is to dominate the Speedwall within the game, earning points as you achieve objectives and races. These enable you to access new cars, pursuit tech and customisation options, which ultimately propel you higher up the standings, as long as you can stave off the competition, and the police. If you choose to be the long arm of the law, however, don’t think that you’ll be lumbered with a Vauxhall Astra diesel. You have access to plenty of power-hungry monsters, such as the Mercedes Black series, Aston Martin and Bugatti. And you have the option of being an under cover cop, utilising stealth to apprehend any unsuspecting racer that happens to be in the area. Or if you wish, choose a prospective criminal from the map screen and let the Sat-Nav point the way.
Racers also have a few tricks up their sleeves. To combat the technology deployed during pursuits, you can utilise outrageously fast turbos, or your own collection of EMP surprises, or just damn good driving.
NFS: Rivals is visually impressive, especially at high speed in the midst of a torrential downpour. Droplets smear the screen and lightening illuminates the horizon. Though the buildings are somewhat cardboard in appearance and other areas of the terrain also fall behind an otherwise glossy exterior. If I had to pick a fault it would be with the single player – if you don’t have access to the internet that is. Though Rivals transitions between an AI populated Redview County and the human dominated online version pretty seamlessly, you’ll notice a difference between the two very quickly. Human opponents are far more spontaneous and unpredictable, but vastly rewarding as opponents. The AI is not, though there were isolated incidents where the AI appeared to taunt me as a racer, which was interesting.
NFS: Rivals is a glossy and exuberant adrenaline-fuelled mad dash along the countryside, with both career choices being equally captivating and challenging. And though there are more precise titles out there, this one provides fuel for your adrenal gland, not a workshop to tinker in.