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Thursday 18 September 2014

All-thrills game a showcase for capabilities of new consoles

Published 17/12/2013 | 05:38

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Need for Speed: Rivals goes all-in from virtually the very start of the game, leaving little to the imagination but plenty of content to burst through.

If your looking for an all-thrills title that has far more style than substance, then Need for Speed: Rivals is the game for you. Rivals goes all-in from virtually the very start of the game, leaving little to the imagination but plenty of content to burst through with a few friends with a couple of hours to kill.

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Rivals combines Hot Pursuit's cops-versus-racer dynamic with the freeform gameplay of Most Wanted's open world. In many ways it's the best of both, although if you've played either of those a great deal, as I have, you may get a feeling of déja vu from Rivals.

Rivals takes place in the fictional Redview County, which has probably the most diverse geography imaginable. Within the confines of its map you can take in parched deserts and lush vineyards, upmarket seaside promenades and snowy mountain passes. It provides a welcome change of pace after the urban sprawl of Most Wanted, though I came to really miss those concrete jungles when I was outrunning the cops.

It all boils down to what is, essentially, a trade-off. Cue long-winded cinematic chases that go on for miles, as opposed to simply hiding from the cops in an effort to give them the slip. Although it is somewhat of a shame that the game couldn't accomodate both playstyles, veteran players of the series will find that adaption comes quickly, and the thrills follow shortly after.

Rivals is incredibly detailed, and an excellent showcase of the capabilities of next-gen consoles. Look closely and you'll see beads of moisture dripping down the bodywork, along with the beatiful lighting and associated shadow casting.

Whether cop or racer, each chapter is structured around a speed list, which is little more than a series of objects. Rivals is eager to get you behind the wheel and onto the tarmac, giving a welcomed sense of urgency, and one of the best things about it is the ease with which you can switch between playing as a cop or a racer.

Online play is, expectedly, where NFS Rivals truly delivers fun, as opposed to a detached appreciation for next-gen technology. You can choose to play with up to six of your friends in both co-operative or head-to head play. Whether you choose to be on side with the law or outside of it, mashing up your friend's rides is indiscrimitedly fun.

A good NFS title that feels more interim than anything else. It doesn't particularly excel, but it is by no stretch of the imagination a bad title.

New Ross Standard

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