EA Games’ latest racing game, Need for Speed Rivals is currently tearing up the streets on Xbox 360. But how will it fair against the imminent arrival of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions?
It’s almost a rite of passage for EA’s development studios to take the veteran Need for Speed franchise and see what they can do with it. Most recently, Criterion Games, who redefined racing game crash physics with their Burnout series, have produced some of the best entries in the series. But now they've passed the torch to a new developer.
I’d already played Need for Speed Rivals on the PlayStation 4, so I was a bit apprehensive when I started up the Xbox 360 version for this review. How could it possibly compare to the insane, breakneck racing experience on the PS4?
Well I’m glad to say that EA’s Swedish studio, Ghost Games, has risen to the challenge and provided a fitting tribute to the 19 year-old racing franchise as it transitions into the next-generation.
Rivals plays out that most basic of schoolyard scenarios: the good guys verses the bad guys. Players can choose to be either a cop or a racer; each side with their own souped-up versions of top-end super-cars. Ever wanted to drive an Aston Martin police car? Well now’s your chance.
Visually, there’s no doubt that Xbox 360 version has benefited by the game’s next-gen development. It has some of the best graphics you are going to see in an Xbox 360 arcade racer and virtually indistinguishable from those that you are going to see on the PlayStation 4. The only real difference on the Xbox 360 is the lower resolution and a little bit of background pop-in, but to all intents and purposes it is the same game across both platforms.
The game is set in the rural open- world of Redview County; complete with day-night cycle and dynamic weather. Although there are a number of AI cops and racers driving around, thanks to the game’s AllDrive system there can also be a number other real players, cops and racers, burning rubber with you.
Winning challenges earns speed points which can be used to improve speed, acceleration and even the car’s strength. Player can also buy weapons such as shock rams, Spike Strips, electromagnetic pulses and mines.
The car mechanics sit somewhere between an arcade racer and that of a racing sim. This means that the handling does take a bit of getting used to. In the early game I was smashing my car into every corner. Later on I was drifting around other cars with a surgeon’s precision. It’s a bit of a steep learning curve, but one that definitely rewards players later on.
Need for Speed Rivals is a very competent game that successfully builds upon what has gone before. With the open roads encouraging high-speed driving, Redview County is a beautiful and exciting place to go for a spin in what is quintessentially a Need for Speed game!