In EA’s Need for Speed Rivals, the next generation seems to feature a lot of things blowing about: leaves blow in the wind, spray from the sea splashes onto the road, dust whips up as you drive through dusty canyon roads.
There’s also a lot of crashing in Rivals, at least there was for me: I crashed a lot in this game, especially into road barriers and other cars while I was pursuing errant youth driving at speed, all in the name of serving and protecting the public.
In Rivals, you’re either the “Uphold the law” police or the “Entitled generation” of youth racers – and the aren’t the best of friends. It’s a world of street racing and insane speeds around the open world of Redview County where the police have to stop and apprehend the racers and the racers have to out run the police. It’s simple. Racers drive as fast and as slippery as they can to avoid the police, the police use souped up cars and a variety of tools (shock rams, road spikes) to ram racers off the road. A fun angle is that you can swap sides if you want when you’re at their respective bases/command centres.
It’s an arcade racer through and through and it’s bloody good fun. It’s probably one of the most fun racers I’ve played in a long time, and I think part of the charm is that it’s not a driving simulator so it doesn’t have to adhere to the rules that a driving simulator does (it’s not trying to be Gran Turismo 6 or Forza Motorsports 5). Is your police car busted up because you’ve hit too many trees? Simply drive through the forecourt of a garage and your car’s repaired!
Rivals has something called AllDrive, which essentially means that every time you load up a game it pops you into a live map which has both AI-controlled cars and, I think, five other real-life drivers. Apparently, the game’s makers see it as a way of blurring the lines between online and single player games and it’s a good idea but I didn’t really hook up with any of the other drivers to complete challenges or take down rivals. You can turn the feature off, though, if you want to drive the roads of Redview County.
Rivals uses the Frostbite graphics engine from DICE and things look pretty sharp, especially all the stuff that’s blowing about as you drive. Car models are detailed and shiny and the lighting and weather affects are impressive. Sure, Forza Motorsports 5 on the Xbox One might look prettier (it’s an exclusive for that format) but Rivals is no slouch in the visuals department.
At the end, though, games like Need for Speed Rivals are all about fun – and Rivals is a hell of a lot of fun. It’s arcadey in its racing and that’s fine with me.
Well worth a look if you’re a fan of the series and fast arcade racers.