It's fair to say that the E3 presentation didn't do Need for Speed: The Run many favours. What it did do, though, was show us that this is something a little different – and in creating a racer shaped around an in-game story, Black Box really is doing something new with Need for Speed: The Run. The entire single-player game is one cross-country, coast-to-coast race across North America against 200 others, from the centre of San Francisco through the rolling hills of California, the deserts of Nevada, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, interstate highways and iconic American cities. It's a racing game built on a seriously impressive scale.
You don't have to race the entire thing in one go, obviously. It's split into different sections, each of which contributes to an overall time. Most of the time you're in the car, dodging traffic on interstates or weaving through mountainous roads. The times when you're out of the car, running away from cops or changing cars or leaping across Chicago rooftops as in the E3 demo, make up less than 10% of the overall experience. Those moments, explains Black Box Executive Producer Jason Delong, are there to provide a bit of variety and change up the pacing – and also to tell a story.