Having just acquired this game recently, I haven’t experienced all that much of it. Here are a few of my initial thoughts on it thus far:
As a long time fan of the series, and purchaser of the original Need For Speed on PS1, I have both positive and negative things to say about this latest installment in the franchise.
While there are many positives, the game really slaps you in the face with the negatives right away. I’m not a fan of those slow, annoying and unskippable crash sequences. This should have been drastically improved upon; it’s completely maddening, especially when your mind is really set on winning the race. It’s a complete slowdown. Save the crash animation for games like Burnout: Paradise, which is also made by the same company. I’m a little put off by the handling of some of the cars; the driving mechanics could be a little smoother. It feels as If I’m driving the ice cream truck from GTA: Vice City sometimes, but again, I must reiterate, I haven’t gotten that far into the game. I’ve been spending most of the time just driving around doing ludicrous stunts with friends.
The incentive here is the multiplayer. That’s what I’m really enjoying the most; especially since I’m not a hardcore race fan to begin with, nor a fan of racing games in general. Overall, the game is aesthetically very pleasing, and I’m definitely digging the scope of the map. The exploration aspect alone helps to sell me on a game early on. I recall having a lot of fun in the original Test Drive, as it had such an open world that allowed you to roam freely for hours at a time. The new Easy Drive menu allows (and overall simplifies) destination selection and modding of your vehicle. Speaking of the cars, they look absolutely amazing, so detailed and polished compared to that of previous installments. The racing, from what I’ve seen, is well balanced, with excellent AI interaction as well.
In all honesty though, it’s a shame this game was made nearing the end of the console cycle. I truly believe Criterion could have made an even better game had they waited. If you’re a racing enthusiast though, I definitely recommend this one.