If racing franchises were all related, then Need for Speed is the schizophrenic member of the family. Over its long history, Need for Speed has covered nearly every facet of the racing scene – from underground illegal street racing, law enforcement on the road, and even the professional sphere. As one of the franchises that are constantly being played in due to having a yearly release schedule, it’s pretty difficult to say that you’ve never heard of a Need for Speed title before. After a few hours of playing, here’s a short breakdown of both career paths; playing as a street racer and police officer.
Racing demands perfection. Success on the road requires the player to be knowledgeable of the terrain pretty well, because each race that I saw so far had some short cuts which have to be exploited in order to get ahead of your rivals. The AI is pretty tough, and there’s a higher focus on plain old good driving. While bumping other cars to force your way through a tough spot might be the first thing you might want to do, hitting another car (or a wall, or anything really) too hard will result in a crash, where you’re treated to a slow motion cutscene of your car smashing against something, with thousands of shards of glass flying everywhere. Also, here’s a small pet-peeve; when racing, the AI has a rubber-band mechanic: No matter how far ahead you are of your opponents, if you make one mistake, you immediately stand a chance to get passed up.
Welcome to the Force, Detective
At first, I didn’t think it would be very fun to play as a police officer. This all changed after I busted my first perp. After playing both Need for Speed Most Wanted and Undercover, it was refreshing to finally assume the role of an actual officer. With that, the biggest addition to police chases is having access to various weaponry like spike strips, summoning a helicopter, firing off an EMP, and calling roadblocks. It felt a little bit like Mario Kart with access to a “bag of tricks,” but seeing your target shut down after running right over a spike strip is a great feeling. When I’m driving, I have a bad tendency of crashing into stuff a lot, and since a large amount of playing as a cop involves “busting” your targets (Although while you’re playing, it seems that you’re trying to kill them at the same time), so I felt more comfortable with being rougher on the road.
Be Notorious, or the Top Cop?
What I like most is that either career can be played, at the same time. After a couple of races, I could switch to a police mission, and go back and forth as I please. I’ve only gotten started, but this is shaping up to be a pretty fun game so far. There is also an online mode, but I’ll wait until I’m a much better racer before I embarrass myself online. Stay tuned for the review!