Need For Speed: Rivals review (PS4)

Type-R | 200d ago | User review
Reviewing: Need For Speed: Rivals
Rivals will make you feel burned out on racing.
Two years ago, the Need For Speed series underwent a major change when Criterion took over development in Black Box’s stead. Having been a huge fan of racing games since PSX, I wasn’t too thrilled to see the creators of Burnout taking over the Need For Speed series because I was afraid of one of my favorite racing series’ losing its identity. When I did finally pick up Most Wanted, I was left unimpressed by the less than stellar gameplay, and frightened by the realization that Criterion’s takeover meant a fundamental shift in everything in upcoming NFS titles, from driving mechanics to story. It was with cynicism and a little bit of hope that I entered Need For Speed: Rivals, wanting to see something different -- something better.

There is something titillating about Rivals that makes its first impression the most immersive. The graphics are crisp with an uncanny commitment to detail, from the sleek bodywork of your starting Porsche 911 to the sunlight gleaming off its rounded edges. You can see the grainy texture of the pavement illuminated under the glare of the sun, and the engine sounds are so realistic that they blare through the TV as if you were sitting behind the wheel instead. The compelling visuals make you want to experience this game, especially after you’ve heard the dicey opening monologue and undergone the short tutorial. Rivals sets you free early, letting you wreak vehicular havoc throughout Redview County.

Right away, it’s clear that Need For Speed abandoned its former focus on storylines, as each monologue feels more pointless and does less to advance the plot other than hyping up the next “chapter.” Rivals is designed as a (somewhat) open-world, multiplayer attraction that relies on its gameplay as a selling point. The offline of Rivals basically replaces would-be online players with AIs, so the experience is essentially the same except the offline is less chaotic because people are terrible at driving in video games. Seriously, no one knows how the brake works. And while wall-riding and ramming are hallmarks of regular online gameplay, it becomes a problem when a racing series starts to appeal to the casual players who make these mistakes

Whether you choose to be a cop or a racer, driving in this game is artless. Need For Speed: Rivals and Most Wanted play like upscale versions of the Ridge Racer series, which functions around a basic arcade driving style that is predicated on the player’s ability to tap or hold the brake button to “drift.” Rivals fails to adequately punish you for slamming into walls, and unless you tap the brake for another one of the game's forced drifts, you’re constantly understeering along straightaways. The “open world” of Need For Speed is designed as one huge track with varying environmental conditions and few intersections, kind of like an MMO with different PVE zones. Rivals’ advertised non-linearity offers you about as much freedom as the average FPS campaign: The only difference is that you decide the difficulty of the game by choosing what set of objectives you wish to complete to move on to the next chapter.

One of the many problems with Rivals is that it possesses no challenge. Failure is impossible in this game. Success is based on when you complete objectives, and when you take too much damage and basically crash out for good, your progress is tracked so that the only punishment you suffer is progressing without new cars and upgrades. On one level, I understand why progression is forced – in a strictly online-only setting, you’re going to encounter players who set out to troll other players or basically just crash into them (which is now encouraged in the Need For Speed series like in a certain racing game Criterion developed prior). At the same time, this is the risk you take by centering your game on its multiplayer, and if you can’t find a way to actually reward progression then what’s the point of even including the story? Again, completion is only a matter of time and focus, not capability.

Rivals doesn’t have a pause feature that stops the game – a decision that is a source of controversy for many players. Even the offline play forces you to continue until you reach a safehouse, which basically allows you to void entire police chases (even in their duration) and enter the garage with money and progress/complete objectives. The nitrous in this game functions similarly to the “boost” in Burnout, where you’re awarded more fuel for reckless driving (though, to its credit, Need For Speed has been doing this since Underground). Players, rather racer or cop, can choose two gadgets that are dedicated to either boosting them ahead or damaging others. This brings to mind games such as Mario Kart or Blur, except instead of picking up your boosts, you equip your cars with two of them before hand and get two or three uses of each that are replenished with each drive through of a repair shop.

It’s worth mentioning that you can pay in-game currency to upgrade the efficiency of these gadgets, and they go on a cooldown after each use, much like skills in MMOs.

Burnout: Ri – er, Need For Speed: Rivals is a game that employs realism where it chooses, and I don’t mind that. A lot of the fun features in the series’ predecessors have been streamlined – rather than upgrading ECUs, exhausts and engine packages, the categorization of performance upgrades has been simplified to things like durability, acceleration, top speed, and handling. Rather than body kits, Rivals would rather have you customize your paint job, change around your rims and select from an assortment of premade vinyl designs. The old “street racing” atmosphere of Underground has been replaced with one that focuses more on mindlessly crashing into things and using cool gadgets to blow stuff up every so often. Some people will enjoy these new challenges and a lot of others, presumably less than before given the game’s success, won’t. I count myself as the latter.

That is why, in my opinion, Need For Speed: Rivals is a hit-and-miss for the series. I don’t feel like Criterion is doing NFS the justice it deserves, and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind if Black Box or the Underground dev. team reclaimed control of future titles.
Ups
Excellent graphics.
Great soundtrack.
Awesome vehicle selection.
Downs
Simplified, dull gameplay.
Lack of customization.
Lack of offline mode.
Score
9.8
Graphics The graphics in this game are mindblowing, and may very well be the best part of Rivals.
9.0
Sound Behind that roaring engine pounds away the thumping bass of a dance/electronic remix. The music is fast-paced, intense and really sets the atmosphere for pushing a car to its limits.
3.0
Gameplay Dull, pedantic, unimaginative -- This title is best summarized as Most Wanted with incremental changes and a slightly more realistic version of Ridge Racer.
5.0
Fun factor Gains a lot of replay value from the online, but otherwise there is no challenge to progression. You race and elude other people, and that's pretty much it.
5.0
Online Marred by a lack of exciting/challenging gameplay, I'm forced to rate the online as I rate the game. It's met with a resounding meh. Need For Speed is basically another Burnout title.
6.0
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
memots  +   199d ago
Agree with mostly of what you are saying.

The one part i think you could have added as a "Ups"/positive. They added a little bit of stress and danger to the game (the fact that if you get arrested or totaled your car you lost all the money you won during the mission you might have completed if you do not make it to a safe house/precinct )

Gameplay could have been way better with bigger wider track. Also it would be nice to be able to simply race once in a while without getting constantly rammed by cops.
ABizzel1  +   199d ago
Wow, I didn't realize this game was online only, that sucks. I prefer to play single player / career mode then go dabble online with my racing games. Might have to pass on this one, or wait for bargain prices / PSN sale / PS+.
Type-R  +   199d ago
It has an offline; the problem is that the single-player is a simulation of online play with AIs instead of people. You can't pause offline, either. This game is created almost entirely around the online experience.
GT67  +   198d ago
Could not agree more with Type-R

ghost games/criterion need to hand the tool kit back to BLACKBOX STUDIO let them make Underground 3 and Hotpursuit 3
with crisp, clear gameplay as criterions hotpursuit.

long as criterion involve in development with ghost games each NFS will be automatic flop along with drifting each darn corner autolog/alldrive will make it horrible to play. so lets see ghost games has one more NFS to make before they get kick to the curb as criterions was. EA please!!! give it back to blackbox studio.
#3 (Edited 198d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
SniperControl  +   198d ago
I borrowed this game from my nephew, it lasted a grand total of half an hour in my PS4 before i ripped it out and threw it back in it's case.

Awful awful game, to only have 2 views(bumper cam & behind car) is atrocious decision by ea, what is this a 80s game or something. Car handling is way out as well, a work colleague of mine has a 911, it sticks to the road like cement going around corners, this game(first car) the back end slips out doing 50mph driving in a straight line.

2/10 in my book.

EA listen to your fans, do a Underground reboot.

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Need For Speed: Rivals

Average Score 7.9 Reviews(98)
Release Dates
PC Release Dates
US 19 November 2013
PS3 Release Dates
US 19 November 2013
PS4 Release Dates
US 15 November 2013
EU 29 November 2013
AU 29 November 2013
Xbox 360 Release Dates
Xbox One Release Dates
US 22 November 2013
EU 22 November 2013
AU 22 November 2013