Review by Dangerous K
"Hey EA, where is the speed?"
Instead of the usual assortment of top European sports cars, this game focuses solely on the Porsche cars. This is actually a good idea providing you like Porsche...otherwise you might not like it so much if you do not like Porsche.
One of the unfortunate things about this game is the graphics actually take a step backwards since the last NFS game (High Stakes). They don't boast the same graphical quality that High Stakes had. They look somewhat bland since then. Some things look a little bit better, but not much. The things that would fall into that category would be the way that the taillights reflect off the road depending on if it is raining or snowing. Another thing that is nice to note, is that on the tracks where there is dirt, providing you are traveling at a higher speed, you will see clouds of dust come up. If you happen to be behind a car and the dust is coming up, it actually makes it harder to control the vehicle due to the limited vision you have. Damage that occurs to the cars in this game has gotten a lot more detail than the previous NFS game. This time, when the cars look horribly damaged, that is in fact the truth. While in some areas the graphics look good, in other areas where it really counts, the graphics are not so good. This game has absolutely horrid collision detection. At times if you hit a wall or a building, the car will actually go through the wall!!!!! Argh!! This is absolutely horrendous, and there is really no need for this. EA had no problem with collision detection in High Stakes; all of a sudden this problem rears its big ugly head in this game. Not good at all. Another problem is occasionally on you might come a little bit close to the side of the road, and for some reason you hit something that just does not appear on the screen, thus slowing down your car. It is quite strange to see this. Another thing to mention is the god awful pop up. When you come up on turns, things will sometimes pop up out of nowhere. This is bad because it gives you little time to even turn, in fact you wind up crashing many times over because of this unless you memorize the track for the turns. The graphics took a step back unfortunately in this game. Shame on you EA.
The sound in this game is a mixed bag. The soundtrack sucks. It sounds like old barnyard music. At first it doesn’t seem quite so bad, but eventually it gets so monotonous that I just got sick of it all together. I wonder if EA was trying to cause the player to fall asleep during the game. At times I found myself drifting off to sleep due to the music. Come on…this is dumb. I would have liked a soundtrack that had music that was not soft-type music. NFS High Stakes’ soundtrack was so much better than this, so why did they go and produce a horrid one right after a good one? It reeks of laziness and a poor effort on the part of the game’s producers. However other sounds in the game are quite good. The horns of the cars sound realistic. The engines of the cars sound great as well. When you make sharp turns and the car skids, you can hear the tires skidding on the roadway. While the soundtrack leaves some things to be desired, the other sounds of the game are quite good.
Finally, something is done right in this game. The control is much improved since High Stakes. Gone is the frustration of trying to turn the car on simple turns. It is now much, much easier to make turns in this game. The cars are very responsive to the analog control. The D-Pad works quite well as well. But the analog is a much better choice to use in this game. All of the cars handle differently, but one thing that does change is that it feels like you are actually in much better control of the car this time around. At least they did something good in the game so far.
The biggest draw that this game has going for it would be the “Evolution” mode. This is a wonderful idea, and should be used more often. This takes you to several different eras of Porsches. In these 3 eras you complete various types of races. You have tournament racing where you must purchase a car for each class in order to be able to race in that class. Then you have special event races where you have to have a certain type of car to be able to race in the race. Last but not least would be the circuit racing. You are required to purchase a racecar in order to be able to compete in the circuit racing. When you complete the tournament races and place third overall in all 3 of the classes, you can move onto the next era. Or you can complete all the races in the era and then move on. It does not really matter what you choose to do. The only advantage of completing everything is that you can fully complete the game with 100% completed. This is definitely a nice step forward for the series, and all racing games for that matter. The “Evolution” mode requires careful driving because when you crash the worse the damage on the car becomes, the worse the car performs. You cannot just zip through the tracks at the highest speed possible and expect to not pay a price for that high speed. At first it is not so bad with the lower class cars, but when you get into higher-class cars in the last era, and you seriously damage your car, you can expect to pay lots of credits to have it in good shape again. Other things in the game would be the “hot pursuit” mode. Sadly this mode is not what it once was. Gone is the sense of high speed that it had. It now feels like a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive. Not much to mention. There is also a “Factory Drive” mode. Here, you just race till you reach the top, and that is pretty much about it for that mode.
One of the nicer things about this game is that there are around 20 tracks or so. Unfortunately, the track designs are lacking. Most of the tracks are short and the scenery on them does not look too wonderful. It comes off to be bland and uninspired. One of the biggest problems with the track design is that it limits how fast you can go. There are turns that are of 90 degrees, sometimes more, sometimes less. It really takes the speed out of Need For Speed. There is as well as over 70 different Porsches. They range from the 1973 Porsche Carrera to the 2000 Porsche Boxster. There are lots of cars at your disposal to try out. The amount of cars in this game easily puts the other NFS games to shame. A downer in this game is the CPU. It went from being ultra-tough in High Stakes to some unchallenging opponent that does not try and win at all. If they could have balanced out the AI to a competitive level without being a nightmare to face, this would have helped the game tremendously I feel. When all is said and done the gameplay is not bad by any means, but not absolutely superb.
REPLAY VALUE: 4/10
There is not a tremendous amount of stuff that will keep you coming back for more with this game. Like I said, the game’s draw is the “Evolution” mode. This is what will make you continue to play. Once you complete it, there really is not much else to do with the game, unless of course you feel like playing through the “Evolution” mode again. But after completing it once, there is not much of a reason to come back and play it again. This is a game you’ll probably wind up just picking up every once in awhile to play for the heck of it. Then it’ll just disappear for a while.
Should you rent or buy this game? If you are a die-hard Need For Speed fan, then I would suggest buying it. If you have not played any of the Need For Speed games I would strongly suggest renting it. You could probably beat this game in a day or two. In the end, this game would have been better off without the Need For Speed title. Why? I simply say because it is missing the speed that the other games had. Gone are the fast paced races that kept you on the edge of your seat. Now instead we are presented with races that tend to keep you more relaxed than excited. This was a mediocre job on EA’s part, which should, and could have been avoided. Lets hope they can get the speed back in Need For Speed with the next Need For Speed game they produce.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/15/00, Updated 06/15/00
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