Review by SaturnFanPL
"Still the best in the series..."
My first experience with NFS was about ten years ago, I was enjoying a PC version back then, I remembered the first NFS as a damn good game. Now, after ten years I could put my hands on the Saturn version to check if it's a solid conversion (and since it's made by EA you could doubt it will be good) and is it still a decent racer.
NFS offers you 6 tracks (plus one bonus track), 3 are closed courses, 3 are point to point tracks divided into 3 segments. You can choose from 8 exotic sports cars like Lamborghini Diablo or Honda NSX, Each car also has a detailed showcase including a video.
You can take a single race, a head to head race against a chosen car (when racing on open tracks, traffic and police appear), a time trial or you can compete in a tournament where you have to win a race on an every track to unlock the bonus course. Of course there's a 2 player split screen mode too. So, as you can see there's a lot to do.
NFS aims to be more of a simulation rather than arcade racer (which the series turned into, with exception of NFS: Porsche Challenge). The handling may feel a little tight at first but after getting to grips with it you'll find it pretty enjoyable, especially while driving a Ferrari Testarossa (my favorite).
The cockpit view with animated steering wheel and gauges makes it even more fun, it's a rather rare feature even today (although it's changing). Besides it's the only proper way to play NFS since the cars look really average, they didn't put much effort in them unfortunately.
At least the actual tracks aren't that bad and they're varied, we have a desert track, city course, mountains etc. You can also choose whether you want to race at the morning, midday or evening. The only bad thing is that the tracks take a lot of time to load, actually I've never saw my Saturn being so busy while loading anything, but it's understandable since the courses are quite long so there's a lot to load.
The thing than annoys me in NFS the most is racing against opponents (I'm not talking about head to head mode though, this one is ok). The odds are pretty much against you in this game. Other cars can block you, hit you so you can hit the wall or lose control but you can't pay them back. Also they don't seem to lose speed after hitting the wall or crashing, at least not as much as you will.
Speaking of walls they are also screwed up because if you fall out of the road you won't hit a tree, a rock or a barrier, you hit the invisible wall which is a little confusing since it's sometimes too close to the road so you don't know if you're going to hit it after taking the corner a little too fast or not. If I'm going to knock into something, I prefer it to be visible.
The music is ok, you have few rock and techno tracks which are quite nice to listen to, although they could have been more "dynamic", after all it's a game about speed.
So, to conclude, Need For Speed is a really decent racer and if you're looking for something different than most racing games for the Saturn, you should pick it up and you won't be disappointed. I have to say the this is my favorite NFS from the series, too bad that recent ones have almost completely forgotten about it's roots.
Gameplay: 7/10 - Driving is a lot of fun but some flaws can get frustrating.
Graphics: 8/10 - Generally ok but the framerate could've been better.
Sound: 7/10 - Well, it's good and that's pretty much everything about it.
Longevity: 8/10 - Lots and lots of racing.
Originality: 8/10 - Unlike recent NFSs, this one was pretty original at the time, and it's definitely original among Saturn racers.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/19/09
Game Release: Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (EU, 12/31/96)
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