Review by CircusPeanuts21
"A great new approach to a great racing series."
Need For Speed: The Run is the latest racing title released by Black Box, the maker of many previous Need For Speed games in the past. The difference this time is that they had three years to work on it instead of pumping it out in their typical annual fashion. The extra time they had to develop The Run was put to good use as this is one of the best in the Need For Speed series. There are some issues to be found as well, but this is one game that is definitely worth checking out.
Story: 5 out of 10. You play as a guy named Jack who needs money in a bad way. His only answer is to enter a race across the U.S.A. and beat over 200 other drivers in order to collect the $25 million dollar paycheck. This is an acceptable enough plot line, especially for a racing title. The problem is that this story isn't told much at all throughout the game. From the very beginning, questions arise and by the end, the answers never surface. Normally I wouldn't even consider giving a rating to a storyline in a racing title, but since Black Box and EA focused most of their ad campaign highlighting this feature it needs to be brought up. Anyone who became interested in this title mainly because of the story or action in the commercials and video trailers should have another reason for wanting to purchase this game before doing so. The story doesn't even come close to delivering what the preview media suggests it would.
Gameplay: 9 out of 10 The racing in this game is flat out fun. In the story mode, you have to get through over 50 events that are divided up into 10 stages. These events consist of passing some opponents, outracing rivals, beating a series of checkpoints before time runs out, surviving mob attacks or the elements, and a few Quick Time Events. With the exception of the QTEs, each event is very thrilling, especially on the higher difficulties. A police presence also exists on some tracks making victory all the more difficult. They aren't as elaborate as in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, but they have a few tricks up their sleeves that keep you on your toes. If you think you can rest during the cutscenes, you are mistaken. A few QTEs will require you to stay focused at all times. While these are relatively easy to get through, they are completely out of place in a racing title. I know Black Box wanted to do something a little different, but these events are too drastically different from everything else you do in the game for their inclusion to make sense. The other mode in the game is the Challenge Series. There are roughly 70 of these events that take place on the same tracks as the ones in the story mode. The primary goal here is to win medals for completing them as fast as possible. Last, but not least, there is a standard multiplayer mode where you race friends for rewards that get selected by a cheesy bonus wheel.
Graphics: 9 out of 10 The Frostbite 2 engine was chosen for this game and the decision ends up being a brilliant one. The range of places you will venture through is unmatched in any racing game out there and many of the environments are simply jaw dropping. This isn't a surprise since the journey across the U.S. goes through Yosemite and Zion National Parks, Death Valley, the Rocky Mountains, the rolling hills of the Midwest, and the forests amidst the Smokey Mountains. For those who like a little grunge to their tracks, there are also roads that take you through San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York City, as well as an industrial track in Cleveland, Ohio. The only thing stopping me from giving this a definitive 10 is that the graphics themselves are close to average looking and a few of the textures certainly lack the detail that can be found in other racing titles of the current generation. The cars are very detailed though and resemble their real life counterparts well.
Controls: 9 out of 10 The handling model in this game falls somewhere between arcade and simulation and it works very well once you get used to it. Many gamers tend to prematurely assume that a game has bad handling if they can't master it within a few races, but this is a clear misconception. With enough practice anybody can get the hang of the handling in this game. It wouldn't be even remotely possible to acquire the platinum medals in the challenge series if the controls couldn't be mastered, and the controls couldn't be mastered if the handling model was bad.
Final Verdict: 8.5 out of 10 This is a title that should be checked out by anyone who likes arcade racers. Whether you should buy it or rent it depends though. The game can be beat rather quickly. Anyone who either likes multiplayer racing or replaying tracks to get the fastest time possible on them will get a lot more out of this game than someone who just likes to beat it and move on. With so many good games coming out these days, there are a lot of people like this though and a rental would likely suffice for them.
I chose to round up the review score versus rounding down due to Black Box making an effort to do something a little different in the racing genre. After flopping on their last release, Undercover, they came back strong here.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/11
Game Release: Need for Speed: The Run (US, 11/15/11)
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