Product Type: Electronic Arts PS3 games
Newest Review: ... the campaign as you race for your life across america trying to beat 200 opponents to win a big cash prize, the game has loads and loa... more
Need for Speed - The Run - EA's big let down from 2011
Need for Speed: The Run (PS3)
Member Name: aethys
Need for Speed: The Run (PS3)
Date: 24/01/12, updated on 24/01/12 (4 review reads)
Advantages: Great graphics, Excellent concept
Disadvantages: Lot of technical flaws, Bad balance, Blotchy gameplay
There was a time when I was addicted to racing games. Racing games have always being exciting and fun as it gives the maximum adrenaline push of all video genres as you make your way past the finish line. It is a sense of achievement. So I could not resist the temptation pinching it (beg and borrow to be honest) it from a friend over a weekend.
EASE OF USE
The loading is a painfully slow. It takes over a minute to load at each of the levels. The result is that between every stage you can jump across to your fridge and grab a snack and still be sure that the game is yet to load. This is only true for single player mode.
The worse comes when you want to load multiplayer mode. This time is takes at least 5 to 7 minutes to load. That means now you could run down to your nearest corner shop to grab a snack and still be sure that the game would not have loaded. Sometimes it goes into sleep mode i.e. freezes and refuses to load.
When playing single player the awful experience of waiting for the game to load gets magnified by the fact that the game level loaded might not even last enough for you to finish your snacks while playing - it might get over in less than the time it took to load - exaggeration but it feels thus if the game has lasted for say double the time it took to load. I would have surely liked to have the game -length lasting longer, say a minimum of 7 minutes especially if it takes over a minute to load.
PHYSICS and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
It suffers from really botchy physics. There are occasional systems crashes which get worse in multiplayer mode where the player position gets pretentious due to loading lags.
The view modes - first person, third person and bonnet camera should depend on player's preference. The first two do. The bonnet camera can never be a player's preference unless the player wants to get dizzy by the end of the game. The camera bumps, jumps and moves from side to side mimicking the movement of the car which is just fine for a moment or so but is an irritant and health hazard if you would like to finish the race. Though this must be a graphics blotch but at this time the bonnet textures gets obliterated into a messy blurred smudge or worse outlined dots.
The Autolog innovation to track your progress against your social network friends does not do its job properly. It wastes a lot of time establishing connection without being of any great help otherwise.
The AI is not very intelligent after all. It does not sync well with the game concept that allows for far greater freedom to run your own race. The AI simply fixes itself to two points on the map - start and a finish and does not provide you with any degree of freedom.
Electronic Arts (EA) the company behind this game franchise usually does a very good job with graphics and it has not been a let-down though I wished it to be more stable coming from the drawing boards of such an accomplished game company.
The graphics are extravagant. The landscapes are of very high quality and it changes quickly as the vehicle races along its course. The combination of the arcade(y) feeling and highly geared simulation is simply exhilarating. The racer can feel his vehicle swirl from side to side as he manoeuvres it avoiding collision on way to the finish line. And if they do collide, the impact is doubly accentuated by extremely powerful visuals coming out of the Frostbite 2 engine which was also used for those stunning visuals of explosions in Battlefield 3.
The only glitch that I can think of is the frame rate dropping off at regular intervals but then this might be because of Physics blotch rather than something to do with graphics.
CONCEPT and STORYLINE
The race games generally do not lay emphasis on this aspect but Need for Speed - The Run Gallery is an exception. The concept of a cross country motor rally/race is exquisitely sound.
The concept is to race across the American highway from San Francisco to New York as you progress through your levels via Vegas and Detroit. That means that if you manage to complete all the levels than technically you would have reached New York passing through Vegas and Detroit. And you have 200 competitors to beat to get the first position.
Quite rare for race game, Need for Speed also has a storyline wedded into the US debt crisis juxtaposed with the time in American history when the mob (mafia) writ ran large. There is this guy, Jack Rourke, a nondescript driver indebted to the mob and the only way he could pay his debts is by winning a 3000 mile cross-America race against 200 other drivers.
Carrying on from the storyline, it seems that I (Jack) had to negotiate my way to New York from San Francisco to win the American highway race and get 10 % of the $25 million prize money to pay of my debt to the mafia and save my skin. But then it dawns that what I have to do is to actually race my way through short levels from one city to another right till I reach New York provided I care to (or shall I say manage to) complete all levels or before game exhaustion kills you before the mafia does. The extremely short level puts you off and shuts off your desire to achieve the final objective. All that I am doing now is jumping from one snippet of a cross country motor race to another. Only words that springs for this sort of gameplay - utterly fragmented and disorderly.
The reason for such jerky gameplay is partially to do with the unnecessary effort to create a strong storyline. So the position achieved at each level determines your position at the next level - you cannot start anew at any of the levels. Jack has after all to pay his debt and save himself from the mob.
In order to advance the structured storyline to its logical conclusion the race levels itself are frequented with unnecessary events. It does more to break the flow of the player rather than add any impetus to the sordid storyline.
Either you need to outdo a number of competitors on course to the finish or outdo the clock to gain few seconds. Quite bizarrely if you fail against the clock you are back to square one at the start of your current level which by itself hinders the flow of the storyline. Which cross country race would allow you to go back and restart again?
There are other bizarre moments bordering on the ridiculous. I can pull up at a gas station and change cars midway through my race. Quite fine, not so questionable, maybe. As I am busy selecting my favourite car paint and right accessories, my competitors are also having a break (Kit-Kat or Starbuck's, I am not sure) i.e. they hardly move and I can go back and start my competition again. Never heard of a cross-country race where you force your competitor to wait for you to resume.
Also the tarmac changes from one level to another - never seen highways laid that way even in America.
The cinematic cut-scenes and QTEs have been added with just the precise intention to advance a storyline and draw on the characters emotions. However, these are obtrusive and very distractive. They just pop in your face and asks you to follow some on-screen instruction to leave you in the middle of the race to resume once gain.
This type of gameplay has however ensured a 5 hour runtime that becomes 10 hours if you include the challenge mode. It becomes repetitive by the end though I encountered some new variations every now and then.
The balance of the game is lop-sided heavily favouring the computer-generated cars. These competitor vehicles clock devilish speeds that are impossible to match. They also seems to wait for you to engineer overtake manoeuvres. Even on full boost very near to the finish line these monsters are capable of overtaking you with complete aplomb.
The lop-sidedness becomes more obvious when you encounter non-race vehicles whose sole purpose is to obstruct you suddenly. At first this gives an element of surprise but after few repetitions it becomes clear that they have been purposefully designed for such purpose.
The easy levels are designed to get you hooked but it becomes too easy and hence boring. On the other hand, hard levels are simply too tough to negotiate and you may be inclined to leave it frustrated. Honestly, I left it after a dozen tries on the first hard level so any level higher than this is out of my purview and is not covered in my review either.
The novelty will wear of very quickly. I got over it on a weekend.
Sometimes it looks to be a fresh race game with a good concept and a reasonable storyline with brief visual thrills but the technical flaws coupled with repugnant story advancement the desire to play wears thin as the game progresses.
I do not think even my game maniac friend would have played it for days and so yielded easily when I begged to lend me the game. Maybe he wanted to get rid of it lest he would start playing it out of boredom.
This seems to be the plus point of this game. The graphics is great though the physics lead much to be desired. Then, as said earlier, the technical blotches diminish the quality of the multiplayer experience despite the neat concepts.
Loopy and typically franchise sound effects.
Need for Speed: The Run Gallery does not live up to the high reputation built by the franchise. EA has bungled in its enthusiasm to offer something unique - a race game with an emotional narrative having a structured storyline. In my opinion, it is good in parts but has a long list of gameplay and technical weaknesses.
Also reviwed in Ciao Uk under same name and title
Summary: The Run Gallery does not live up to the high reputation built by the franchise.
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