Need For Speed Rivals Review


Well, at long last the Need for Speed marathon is now over. Rivals was the last one I owned that I had not yet played so this was quite the milestone. It’s been a lot of fun racing around and Rivals definitely does feel like a lot of effort was put into it. The graphics are definitely top notch and there’s a whole lot to do here. You have fast travel here which is always a must for games where the hub world is so huge. The story may be a bit weak but you’re here for the gameplay and definitely will not be disappointed.

The game starts off by asking if you want to play as the rebels or the cops this time around. I went with rebels since I played as the cops last time. Please note that you can switch sides at any time. Ideally the game is hoping you’ll go ahead and complete both stories. As it is, each side is fairly long so the game did a good job of really making sure the purchase was worth the money. I don’t think it would be possible for you to beat this game in under 10 hours for example. On the Rebels side the plot is basically that the main guy is trying to prove that it’s best to live life on the edge getting your 15 minutes at a time as he breaks all of the rules. The cops begin getting more and more desperate to catch him. Then you have the cops who are doing everything they can to take this rebel down but it’s proving to be difficult. They’re also having to deal with a lot of copycat racers so all of those guys need to go down and fast.

The game has a lot of different ways to race. You’ve got the standard races, time trials, pursuit races which is a race while being chased by the cops, and Interceptor which is a 1 on 1 battle with you and a police car. Each chapter is divided into missions and each mission is divided into a few tasks. For example one mission might be to win 3 races, clear one time trial, and earn 100K. Once you do all of that then the mission is completed and you will move onto the next set. I like the clear plot progression here as well as the fact that none of them feel all too crazy to me. The tasks are all pretty achievable even if they may take some time. The toughest set always seemed to be the drifting ones so I didn’t even try those. Typically you’re given 3 options on which set of tasks you want to complete and I would go for the racing focused ones. They just seemed the most direct.

I’d say the game took around 12-15 hours but I suppose it’s hard to say exactly. The final race in particular was a really tough one that took me quite a few tries. You have to drive over 30 miles nonstop in order to reach the end and if you made a wrong call or had a bad bump then there’s a chance you would lose and have to start from scratch. Let me tell you, starting from scratch is never fun. Still, since it’s the final level I can give it a pass. None of the other levels are nearly so long and it does make sense that you would want the final level to be a challenge. This game actually had far better pacing than most other Need for Speed games with how the levels go so I have to give a lot of kudos there. I also liked the variety. This was just a really well balanced game.

Part of what makes it work is how interactive the hub world is. It just feels alive with cars moving around at all time and the cutting edge graphics. As I mentioned earlier the game looks amazing. Definitely what you would expect form a next gen title. The soundtrack was also not all that annoying this time around which is great. The franchise is not usually known for having a good amount of solid themes so it’s something that can always be a bit concerning. This way there wasn’t really anything to worry about. When you pack on the replay value then you’ve definitely got a bargain here.

At its core what makes Rivals so good is of course the gameplay. It’s all very smooth and you feel in control of the car. I like that you unlock cars which you can use and buy them with cash but there isn’t the crazy level of customization that other titles have. I don’t mind a little customization of course but after a point you want to be able to just jump into a car and start driving instead of always wondering how you can optimize it. This one leaves things reasonably automatic as well which I think is a great middle ground. The game also has a lot of items at the ready here as you can attack with mines and shockwaves as well as protect yourself with Jammers and stuff like that. Items can work quite well when used the right way. For racers I really don’t mind not having any gimmicks but I won’t complain about them either.

Overall, Need For Speed: Rivals is a great game. It really captures the essence of the series and executes on every angle quite brilliantly. There is no part of the game that I would shake my head at. Even the story which can be a bit overdramatic as you follow a lead who is so far from being a hero that you can’t root for him, is okay in the end. At least it doesn’t drag on which I appreciate. You don’t get to see a whole lot of cutscenes but at least each one has a direct purpose. If you’re looking for a good racing game to pick up then I would definitely recommend this one. You really can’t go wrong with Rivals.

Overall 8/10

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Review


Need for Speed has had a ton of games over the years. It’s took a while but I’ve gotten to play just about all of them now. Hot Pursuit is one of the more recent ones and it’s a really solid installment. It takes the series back to its roots with a lot of solid races and the fact that you can now play on the police side as well. This makes for a pretty long campaign all things considered and there is still the free roam as well. Throw in the top notch graphics EA is known for and you’ve definitely got a winner here.

There is no story mode this time though so that’s something to consider here. You’ll instead just jump right into the races. There are around 60 races as a classic rebel who is going through illegal races and trying to be the #1 underground racer. Then you have the police side which has around 50 races as you take these guys to justice. I did all of the police levels and around 10-20 of the racer ones. There are definitely a lot of races to be had here so you really need to like the gameplay. Of course, why would you get a racing game if you don’t like the genre right?

The gameplay is a bit different between the two sides. On the rebel side it’s fairly standard as you try to outspeed the other racers to the goal. You also have time attack races where you just gotta go really fast. On the police side it’s about busting opposing cars. Take them out via ramming or with your 4 special abilities. You can fire EMP bombs at them, call in helicopters, use barricades, or even drop spikes. The rebels have these abilities as well so this is a bit of a departure from the more street level titles of the past. The abilities are pretty fun though and help make the game fresh. That’s why I played less of the rebel levels this time because I just liked the new approach here.

The gameplay is as smooth as it’s ever been. You really feel like you’re in control as the car zooms forward. Turns are seamless and everything feels right while you’re drifting. That’s good because some of the levels really call for a ton of precision so you need this level of control or you could find yourself in a lot of dangerous situations. Then you’ve got the graphics which are top notch as I mentioned. The game just looks really good. The cars are as realistic as they can be and that makes driving them even more fun. The rain is on point and the game looks PS4 level easy. It’s about as ahead of its time as you can get.

The soundtracks for this franchise can be very hit or miss but this one’s a hit without question. The main theme of the game is fantastic so whenever the game loads up you know you’re in for a treat. Not just any game can pull that off. It helps you tolerate the initial loading time a lot more than you would otherwise. The tunes in the actual game are a little less memorable but still work well enough. With a soundtrack of this size you’re not likely to enjoy them all but more work than the ones that do not.

With 100+ levels in here the game should last you around 12 hours if you want to complete them all but if you only aim to complete one side then around 6 hours will do. Of course that leaves a lot of replay value regardless. Earning the Distinction or Gold Medal on each level will be really difficult. You can also earn levels ups as you go through the game which unlocks more abilities and better cars. With these cars you can then go back to the older levels and it’ll be a little easier to complete them. So this game does reward your continued play. You can also go for trophies but with the online not around anymore hopefully there are no online ones or the Platinum trophy will be impossible to get anyway so I’m not sure if you would really bother with it.

One thing I would say that is in this game’s favor is the more Arcade like approach. I’m cool with the game just giving you the cars and you choose which one to grab. While I can see the appeal in customizing your own car and heading to the lot to buy new ones every few levels, I prefer to sometimes just get in and race. Give everyone the same cars and just let it come down to skill. If you ask me that’s for the best. It’s not like a game will lose points for not doing this of course, but I just really like it going this way.

Overall, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is really a great game. There’s just a whole lot for you to enjoy. It’s a complete racing game with top notch gameplay and graphics. It certainly makes a case for being the strongest Need for Speed title. Really the only thing stopping it is the fact that there is 0 story. Even if the gameplay may be the best, it’s hard for me to put it above one of the titles that actually has a strong story. If you’re just in it for the gameplay though then I’d say that you really can’t go wrong here. There’s something to be said for going back to the core basics which this game executed really well.

Overall 8/10

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 5h 41m
Total Game Complete 30%
Distance Driven 527.4 Miles

Time Played As Cop 4h 19m
Cop Distinctions 23/48
Cop Cars Driven 18/49
Cop Milestones Complete 15/20

Time Played As Racer 1h 21m
Racer Golds 6/60
Racer Cars Driven 9/51
Racer Milestones Complete 3/20

Total Driving Milestones Complete 17/40
Distance Driven 2/4
Distance In Oncoming 1/4
Distance In Drift 1/4
Distance On Shortcuts 2/4
Time In Slipstream 1/4
Time At Top Speed 1/4
Time Using Nitrous 1/4
Nitrous Bars Filled 3/4
Near Misses 2/4
Total Crashes 3/4

Need For Speed: The Run Review


It’s time to look at the next Need for Speed game in the series. The Run definitely makes things pretty intense here with how high intensity the story is. Unfortunately the story is extremely short though. I was surprised when I initially found out just how short the title was. It just strikes me as odd that you wouldn’t have made the game a few hours longer at least. When you went to all the trouble of setting up the gameplay and locations it just makes sense to put more content in right? Ah well, I applaud the series for trying to do something different here. It may not have ended up being quite the biggest payoff but it was a worthy attempt.

So the main character is in some trouble with the law. A lady shows up and offers to clear his record if he enters an illegal cross country race on her behalf. He’ll earn lotsa of money so it’s a pretty solid deal. The lead agrees to do this and little does he know that this journey is about to get pretty interesting. It’s a long trip across the country all the way to New York after all and some people want to shoot him down. He’ll have to rely on his slick car skills to get through this one and it definitely won’t be a walk in the park.

This Need for Speed game has a lot less variety on the kinds of races you do. Gone are the drifting events and things of that nature. There are now only two real events, racing against people and checkpoints. You also have boss races but they play the game as the normal races. Just make sure you pass the opponent and stay ahead in order to win. Instead of laps the game goes by miles which makes sense since you’re effectively in a nonstop race which doesn’t end until you hit New York. It’s a pretty interesting concept and one I can get behind. The levels are also pretty short as a result so you should really be blasting through most of them with ease.

Honestly the game’s not very hard at all. I was having some pretty bad controller issues and I still beat most of the levels without a hitch. There are checkpoints in each of the levels and you have 6 lives that you can use to clear the game. With all of this at your disposal you can see why winning the races won’t be all that hard. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s no walk in the park. You still need to run a clean race and not bump into anything. The final boss in particular can be tricky as it’s a 10 mile race and you even have to dodge incoming trains at times. That was pretty cool, I definitely don’t think I’ve had to do that in any of the other games.

Then this one also throws in some quick time events as the character runs from the cops. It’s been a while since I played a proper quick time event match so that was pretty neat. It definitely adds to the theatrical feel of the story. When the main character starts jumping across buildings you may find that a bit suspect but it just goes to show how athletic he is. There are even some human fights here and there which was intense. The main character isn’t particularly heroic though so you may have a hard time rooting for him at all. That’s a pretty common theme for the Need for Speed games though.

As for the length, the game is only a little over 2 hours long. Even for games which are short this one really stands out. That’s just not a lot of time at all. Now, there is some bonus content here like challenge mode and replaying the story but that’s about it. I suppose there is going for the PS3 trophies but with the servers down that means a Platinum is completely out of reach if you are gunning for one of those. If that is the case then it lowers the replay value down even further. Make no mistake, this game is all about your initial playthrough and then I believe you’ll probably be putting it down. Still, the gameplay is really solid and at the end of the day that’s probably why you’re getting these games right? In that case you have nothing to fear. It’s just a very solid experience from start to finish.

The graphics are definitely top notch. EA always tends to go ham on the graphics which makes sense since their sport games tend to sell a lot and they reuse so many assets that the profit margins should be pretty crazy. It should come as no surprise that they’re able to execute at a high level. The stages also look really sharp along with the cars and effects. There’s definitely no issue here. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which has quite a lot of tunes in it from various singers. It is impressive how EA licenses so many songs for the games. The quality will vary quite a bit so hopefully you like the tunes. They are all pretty fast paced to match the game’s atmosphere.

Overall, The Run is certainly a Need for Speed title that makes pretty big changes compared to most of the usual titles. This one isn’t afraid to go for a rather different feel the whole time which I can appreciate. The quick time events are fun and the story is pretty solid. It’s definitely a serious story with a real plot. Some times the story can go a little while without much of a real cutscene though. I’d say something big would usually happen every 3 levels and with only 10 in the game that does mean there is a lot of dead time as well. If you can find this game for a good price then I recommend checking it out. It may be short but the game is still very high quality when it comes to things like gameplay and graphics which you definitely don’t want to overlook. I’m now one step closer to being caught up with the Need for Speed series.

Overall 7/10

Rugby 2004 Review


I’m not a big Rugby fan. I barely even know the sport to be honest. Still, this was one of the only games I could find for under 5 on Amazon so I figured it was time for the plunge. It does feel a bit like Football even if it isn’t the genuine article. It’s close enough for me and that’s what counts. I had to figure out the controls on the fly as the practice mode here doesn’t actually teach you any of the controls. I’m not even sure I see the point of the Practice Mode here. It definitely could have been quite a bit better.

The game has no real story mode or anything like that so you’ll probably just be jumping into the quick “Play now” mode. Once you’re in you pick your team and the match settings like how long the game is and where you want to play. For my first match I made it very cold and overcast but sadly you couldn’t just pick rain ow snow like in the good ole days. I feel like those two should always be an option. How much harder could it be to program those into the match right? I played 3 games in total and saw a lot of rapid improvement. In the first game I lost 59-0.

Granted, I was still learning the controls at this point. I was figuring out how to run, pass the ball, etc. Even by the end of all 3 games I could never figure out how to lateral the ball back to someone else. It definitely made things pretty tough. The only play I knew how to run was what was effectively a delayed hand off. I did enjoy how the player would already start running before he grabbed the ball to pick up momentum. That’s a play I’d like to run more of in the Football games. I may have gotten blown out, but the gameplay was solid so I still had a solid time throughout. I think that speaks to how solid EA Games was at this point.

Then I jumped into my second round which went over better. I lost 8-7 in this one. I was finally figuring out how to play some good defense and of course I could run now. My play wouldn’t work very often but it worked once and so I was at least able to get on the board this time. My defense couldn’t stop them when it counted but I kept it close. Then we had the final match although for this one I toggled the difficulty level lower a bit so I’d have a calm experience. I ended up winning 3-0. Yeah, that’s a pretty low score but it oculd have been worse. At least I had the higher score so in the end I was able to claim victory. It was a pretty solid way to end the game I’d say.

Even now I don’t really get the rules. I do think it has potential though. If I ever did manage to understand how the game works I’d probably be able to enjoy this one about as much as Football or Basketball. It’s got a lot of solid fundamentals to it and that’s all I need. The matches don’t take very long either. I was able to knock out 3 games in about an hour which is a pretty good amount of time I’d say. 20 minutes for what I’d say was a complete experience. The game just goes very quickly since the clock never really stops. It’s just always active. I don’t understand how the end of the timer works though. It’s sort of like Soccer where even once the game ends the timer just stays there flickering for a little while. There’s probably some logic there that I just don’t get.

As for the graphics, I’d definitely say that those look pretty good. They may not be top of the ring or anything like that but for the PS2 era they have aged rather well. The whole thing looks pretty good. You’re able to leap into action and I have to give the game credit for having so many arenas and teams here. That must have taken a lot of effort. Additionally the game has a ton of replay value of course. You can enjoy playing quick games or jump into a franchise. Either way that results in a lot of playing time which is always a good thing. Of course this all depends on you enjoying the game a lot. Naturally if you’re not a big fan then this will probably drag on.

Overall, Rugby 2004 is a solid game. It would likely be higher if I actually understood how this all works. It’s too bad that Rugby didn’t get more installments but I suppose it never really got all that big in the US. Football dominated over here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. There aren’t a whole lot of other Rugby games that I haven’t played over here now so I’m one step closer to playing them all. Still, I don’t see myself getting another Rugby game for a long while so it could be a bit before I hit that milestone.

Overall 7/10

Need For Speed Undercover Review


Looks like the Need for Speed marathon is finally at an end. I’ll play through the next one at some point but at least for right now this will be it. Undercover is definitely a very solid installment in the series though. Not only does it have a lot of content to go through but it also takes us back to the more plot driven direction of the earlier games. It could stand to have more of a focused story but even just having boss battles is a big improvement over the last few. It’s just hard to top that and I wonder what they’ll do for an encore.

The game starts with the main character being tasked with the assignment of going undercover in order to take down a bunch of renegade racers. Gangs are popping up everywhere and you have to stay undercover until you find the big boss. The tricky thing is that you start to sympathize with some of these racers who are just trying their best to live and survive in what is considered a pretty frightening world. Is there any way that the hero can let them off easy? He’ll have to also avoid attracting too much attention since some characters already think that he’s probably compromised. It sure is difficult to keep getting these guys arrested while the lead is somehow safe.

I feel like the villains should have known something was up the instant we busted an entire gang, leaving the main character as the only guy left. At this point we joined another gang and did the same thing but really? That’s super suspicious. The main character doesn’t get to appear all that much and even gets censored during the quick cutscenes with the cops so we don’t see him all that clearly. I suppose he seems like a nice enough guy but also a very gullible one who is easy to manipulate. His driving skills are second to none though and the villains learn that the hard way. The ending has a lot of things happening so you’ll need to pay attention to that.

Unfortunately the sound mixing wasn’t very good. The gameplay and music while in the race are much louder than the actual cutscenes. What this means is that you’ll be playing normally when suddenly a cutscene occurs and you need to raise the volume. If you don’t then what ends up happening is you won’t be able to hear what’s going on quite as well. I don’t really get how something like this would make it past the play testing since it seems like a quick fix. Beyond that, it has the usual EA soundtrack. There are a lot of songs here and they’re all pretty fast paced so I’d say that you’re bound to find at least a few that you’ll like. I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The ending song is definitely a pretty intense one and ends as if this was a theatrical movie. Pretty epic if you ask me.

Then you’ve got the graphics which are solid as always. EA has never disappointed in this area and I wouldn’t expect them to start now. The cars look excellent and so driving through the city is a lot of fun. It’s all or mostly all in the daytime though so surprisingly we’re still not getting a lot of night levels. I know those can be risky since it can be hard to get the night look while not getting too dark but I think they can pull it off. Regardless, the hub world is quite huge and the fact that you can drive around the whole thing and pick up missions is a blast if you ask me. The cutscenes also look really good like the big boss battle at the end where the car jumps off the road. It helps really get you into the swing of things.

The gameplay is easy enough to describe. It’s the same 3D racing that you’re used to and is as fun as always. Using your nitro to get away is nice or quickly spinning a 180 and zooming away as the other racers get confused is just as satisfying. You really can’t go wrong with the gameplay here. There are no bonus competitions like drifting or any of that this time. It’s all about racing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This makes the most sense in context after all. You will get new cars as you go through the game and can upgrade them but the process has been very simplified compared to how it was in other titles. I think this game has pretty much nailed down the formula so they should really stick to this going forward. You still need to take a look at your car every now and again but not constantly. Aside from free roam you can also use the GPS to jump straight into a race. You can tell which events are story ones because the icon will be wrapped in a circle which looks very fancy.

If you complete a level very quickly you will have “dominated” it which allows you to permanently increase a stat. You don’t get to choose which one but they certainly add up. I recommend going for the dominate as much as possible because the stats and discounts add up very quickly. Without them I imagine that this would be considerably more difficult. The main game’s campaign took me a little over 10 hours so when you add up all the extra events that should probably take you to around 14-15 hours. Pretty good deal for the game if you ask me. You certainly won’t be wanting for content by the time you’re done with all of this. Undercover is really the complete package for a Need for Speed title.

Overall, I’ll definitely miss Undercover. It’s definitely the most complete game in the series I’ve played since Underground. If you like racing around the city and enjoy Free Roam then this is definitely the game for you. It’ll remind you of Driver with the added danger of having to run from the cops. The cop chases here can definitely be very intense. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the hellicopters and their vans really smash your car out of the way. The game runs well and the graphics are sharp. I only encountered one glitch where I seemingly won a level too quickly which was odd so it didn’t count. It seems like that’s not something you would typically need to worry about though so I wouldn’t sweat it. Could be a while, but we’ll see where the series goes from here.

Overall 7/10

Need For Speed ProStreet Review


It’s time to look at a recent Need for Speed title I completed. Unfortunately this may end up being the weakest title in the series. It’s hard to get into this one and there’s not even much of a story. I don’t know about you but I always need a compelling story to really throw the Need For Speed games into the next level. Not having one just doesn’t feel right because the whole time you’re waiting for something to happen and it just doesn’t. Additionally there are some other gimmicks that didn’t work well but more on that later.

The general premise is that you want to become the number one racer in town. To do that you will have to win a lot of races and tournaments. After clearing a bunch of tournaments you get to a showdown level where you get to beat a boss. Then rinse and repeat until you beat all of the showdowns which will earn you a match against one of the legendary Kings. Beat him and the game is over but after that you can take down the rest of the kings in the post game to become the grand king. At that point you are the best there ever was so what else would you really want to do?

There’s a lot of content here so I’ll certainly grant the game that. The campaign itself is incredibly long due to the sheer volume of races and tournaments here. I don’t see you completing the game in under 10 hours and it’ll probably take more like 15. Aside from that it’ll take a lot of time and money to unlock all of the cars or to break enough records to take on all of the kings. Earning money takes a lot of time in this game and that’s unfortunate because you need money to get the better cars. Your starter just won’t cut it. I’m cool with upgrading, but this game tries to go a little too realistic with that. There are some cars where even if you max them out they will never be fast enough to win the race. You also have to compete in “Wheelie” competitions near the end of the game and none of my cars could pull it off. Had to get a brand new one which was a colossal waste of money since it was just good for that and the drag races.

Ultimately I made it to the King at the end and took him down in the first 4 races, but the 5th one stumped me. I really only beat the first race because he ended up crashing so I crawled to the end. His car was simply worlds ahead of mine so no matter how well I raced through the level there was no way I was going to win. I needed a completely different car if I wanted to deal any damage and going all the way back didn’t seem like a great option. So that’s where my journey ended. I really don’t think the idea of having to get new cars all the time is a good one. I like just having one good car that you can upgrade. Make the courses tougher but don’t mess with the cars.

Maybe this wouldn’t have felt quite so bad if the game had a real story. This just didn’t really even feel like a Need For Speed. There is no free roam in the game which is absolutely crazy. That’s basically the core of the NFS franchise. Gone are the underground races and trying to zip away with your car intact. It’s admirable that the game was going for something new but if you ask me it just didn’t work. The core gameplay is still good of course so I’m happy about that but that’s really all I can say about this game. There are several different kinds of racing modes, but the classic Circuit is the best one. I suppose my second favorite would be Speed since the whole idea behind that mode is going full throttle from the start in 1 long lap. One mistake will mean the end for you here so you can’t afford to slip up.

The graphics aren’t bad. They’re pretty standard as far as the series goes. I wouldn’t really say that it’s improved much at all since the last one. As long as I can see the track I’m good though. The soundtrack’s pretty limited, I can’t recall any good tunes. One element that further holds the game back is the announcer. He talks constantly as you’re going through the menus so you feel like you have to hurry and make your selections. His lines aren’t witty, they’re just annoying and super loud. Additionally the game throws in a lot more fanservice than these games typically have. You’re also forced to experience this before every single race. You know how some of these levels are so difficult you have to retry them over and over again? Well, get ready for these unskippable intros before the race because they really eat up a lot of time by the time they’re all over.

Overall, Need For Speed ProStreet really fell pretty hard compared to most of the Need for Speed games. This one barely even feels like it’s a part of the same series as the others. It only shares the name with the rest of the games but otherwise may as well be a completely different title. The gameplay is good, but that’s not really enough to save the game. If I at least got my free roaming mode I’d be okay but without that this game just couldn’t work. If you’re going to get into the Need For Speed series then I recommend starting out with just about any other game compared to this one. ProStreet just does a disservice to the series.

Overall 5/10