Review by EonSchism

"Need For Speed: Great Game, Bad Port."

I had high hopes for this title, and was positive that it would be the next ’Sure Thing’. I was a big fan of the series back when I had the original PlayStation console. I recently picked the game up at my local Blockbuster (I had to go to 4 different ones just to find it for Gamecube), and have been playing for a few days now. This game is a great example of how a great game can be harmed by a poor port and rushed release. Read more to find out why..........

-= REVIEW OVERVIEW =-
*Presentation: 9
*Graphics: 4
*Sound: 7
*Gameplay: 8
*Fun: 6
*Multi-Player: 5
*Replay: 8
*Overall: 6 (not an average)

-= Presentation: 9 =-
The game starts out with an AWESOME FMV of a car chase, which ends in a matrix style spin around an airborne Lamborghini. The Menus look nice and easy to get around. There are minimal load times and some mediocre background music. I actually prefer these menus over the PS2 ones, which are completely different. The game case looks nice as well as the instruction manual.
- The Intro movie will likely get you pumped, and the menus are flashy as well: 9/10.

-= Graphics: 4 =-
There are very few cases when the graphics actually affect the overall game play experience in a video game. Games with horrible graphics still can be very fun and addicting (take Animal Crossing for example). The problem mainly lies in the frame rate. The game runs constantly at a sub 30 FPS speed. Many people claim that it only slows down on occasion, but they are absolutely wrong. It runs at a constant rate of about 10 to 20 frames per second, only rarely locking on at 30 FPS. This makes the game seem like playing an old PlayStation game, and causes the game to feel slower than it should. The game is also overrun with jagged edges, something that should not happen on a system with built-in anti-aliasing. I run my game through Component Input, so I expect the game to be crisp, but all I get is a result that looks like a first gen PS2 game. The Levels themselves are also poorly done. The textures look like something out of an N64 game at times, and the colors are far too bright. The Polygon count is also fairly low for a game running on such a powerhouse machine. Amongst all these shortcomings, there is one good thing about the graphics: The cars, they are stunning. All of them seem like they don’t fit into the game, because they are so beautifully modeled. The reflections, paint jobs, and lighting all are great, although, the cars should have been able to be damaged in some way. They seem like they are immune damage, even in head-on collisions at 150 MPH. This is only a small complaint, and would make no real difference in the graphical or game play department. This game earns every bit of the 4 that I gave the graphics. Having such a poor frame rate is simply inexcusable.
- The Inexcusably choppy frame rate brings down the whole game with it: 4/10. .

-= Sound: 7 =-
I actually enjoy the soundtrack a lot. It features some well-known rock tunes, mixed with techno-like songs made specifically for the game. The car engine noises and all other sound effects do the job well, and nothing seems out of place. Not much to talk about.
- Nothing stands out as especially awesome, but the game definitely sounds pretty good: 7/10. .

-= Gameplay: 8 =-
The game play is where the Need for Speed series have always excelled. The cars handle VERY well, but in an arcade manner. There are tons of modes of play Including Hot Pursuit, Championship, Single Race, and Quick Race. Hot Pursuit is a group of missions where you race against several opponents while avoiding police cars. They can set up a roadblock, a spike strip, or even call in a helicopter that drops bombs on you. This mode is pretty entertaining, and gets tough fairly quickly. Championship is just like Hot Pursuit minus the police. It is fun, but without the ’Heat’ trying to get at you, it loses a lot of the tenseness and excitement. Single Race allows you to choose exactly what car you want to drive, and what level you want to race on. You can unlock cars and maps with the points you earn in Championship and Hot Pursuit modes. One disappointment was the exclusion of letting you choose the time of day and the weather, which used to let you spice up the levels in the older games. Finally, Quick Race sets up a completely random race, and is really pretty stupid. I have only done this once, and I bet you will too.
- Great Control, Many modes, and crazy police cars out to get you: 8/10. .

-= Fun: 6 =-
If I had to rate the fun factor after only 1 hour after I started playing, I would have scored it a 3. This game gets much better as you progress, if you only stick with it for a few hours. When you first start out, the cars seem very slooooow. But, as soon as you get your hands on the McLaren F1, you’ll be speeding laps around the initial set of cars. The one major blow to the Fun rating is the horrible frame rate. It’s very, very distracting, but thankfully, gets less irritating the longer you play. The level design is also another disappointment. The levels seem stale, and lack life. This comes as a surprise to me, because the levels in the older incarnations of the series were always incredible.
- Once again the frame rate interferes. You’ll have to stick with this game for a while until you really start to get into it: 6/10. .

-= Multi-Player: 5 =-
The multiplayer gets the job done, but is really not as fun as just taking turns on a Single Race. The frame rate is not any worse than one player, which is a plus. The main reason for this I feel is the lack of the 2 player Be a Cop mode that was included in Hot Pursuit, and High Stakes. It was hands down, the most entertaining mode in the past games. Why it wasn’t included most likely has to due with the fact that this game was rushed to be released alongside the PS2 version. The PS2 version offers a few more modes of play, and a steady frame rate.
- The multiplayer feels like it was added as an afterthought, and was probably the last thing on the developers to-do list: 5/10. .

-= Replay: 8 =-
This game does pack a lot of replay into it, not for the Multiplayer, but rather the fact that you can unlock so much stuff. There is a NFS version of every car, which costs double the normal cost. This means that you’ll be spending a lot of time replaying the Hot Pursuit missions to gather those points if you want to unlock everything. It is also entertaining to set time records for each course and trying to compete against your or a friends records.
- So much to unlock, it will take hours just to earn enough points: 8/10. .

-= Overall: 6 =-
The 6 rating I gave to this game means that it is an average title. It in no way is a horrible title, and is well worth the rental fee. But don’t buy this before renting; I’m glad I didn’t. The PS2 version has been getting much higher marks; so if possible, purchase it for your Sony system. Had this game been given an additional 2 months at the development house, I am sure it would have been a ’must have’ racer for Nintendo’s Gamecube.
- The frame rate, poor texture quality, left out features, and boring levels all add up to equal an average racer: 6/10. .


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 10/06/02, Updated 03/13/03


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