It seems like just yesterday that EA was re-committing to the Need For Speed series, promising quality titles over a publisher-imposed annual release. And yet, the games continue to be churned out, ranging from impressive to downright disappointing. That kind of record usually breeds doubt, but a jump to next-gen hardware is likely enough to counter skepticism.
Now that Need For Speed Rivals has made its debut on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, boasting improved graphics and a dynamic weather system – as well as Ferrari’s return to the franchise – the embargoes have lifted. The series’ return to the cops-vs-racers formula is without a doubt the best looking, but how does the first entry from Ghost Games stack up elsewhere?
NOTE – Given that Need For Speed Rivals is being touted as a next-gen release, most of the reviews pertain to the PlayStation 4 version of the game (with one exception), despite also launching on the PS3, PC and Xbox 360.
Destructoid (Dale North):
“Even with the balance issues and design missteps, Need for Speed: Rivals is a blast. Literally… Ramping jumps, drift contests, dodging speed traps — it’s all a blast. There’s simply too much fun to be had here to get hung up on the gripes. Just be sure to take breaks when playing the racer campaign, as the grind, and the suicidal cops can wear on you.”
Gamespot (Carolyn Petit):
“There’s nothing decidedly next-gen about the look of Rivals, but it’s still a gorgeous game. Whatever the forecast, the cars themselves, and the collisions they tend to get into, look spectacular, sending showers of metal and glass in all directions. Need for Speed: Rivals is very much in the tradition of Hot Pursuit, but that great, familiar gameplay has been infused with enough new elements to make it as thrilling here as it’s ever been.”
GamesRadar (Nick Pino):
“Need for Speed: Rivals is a wholly enjoyable open-world racer. The driving is solid, its streets are a joy to explore, and its racing assignments–though a bit repetitive at times–are incentive enough to keep you coming back for more.”
Shacknews (Andrew Yoon):
“Need for Speed Rivals completely embraces the concept of rivalry, integrating it into every aspect of the game. The end result is a game with crystal-clear vision and execution… It may not be able to scratch the itch that a more traditional racing fan may be looking for, but it sets the bar for what online-connected worlds should be about.”
Eurogamer (Martin Robinson):
“Criterion created some of the last generation’s very best arcade racers in Hot Pursuit and Burnout Paradise. Ghost Games has carried on that torch and crafted a racer that any of its competitors would do well to match in the new generation.”
Official Xbox Magazine (Dave Rudden):
“Need for Speed Rivals is obviously the best-looking the series has been, thanks to the advent of new console hardware, but it’s not definitively the best-feeling game in the series… Fortunately, Ghost Games proves itself worthy of taking the keys from Criterion, as its debut ensures Xbox One is off to a rip-roaring start.”
Escapist (Joshua Vanderwall):
“Need for Speed: Rivals is like the love child of GTA and Grand Turismo. It avoids the repetitive closed-course race tracks in favor of a fun, free-spirited open world racing experience. Even if you’re not into racing games, Rivals is an unexpectedly amazing adventure racing experience.”
EGM (Josh Harmon):
“While the driving is superb and the visuals are stunning, the inherent limitations of Rivals‘ AllDrive concept begin to hamper the experience near the end. The result is a game that’s three-quarters great fun, one-quarter miserable, frustrating slog.”
Machinima (Miguel Concepcion):
“In a PlayStation 4 launch line up that can be described as “solid” at best, Need For Speed: Rivals single-handedly fulfills the driving game spot in this initial library. It can be a lot to take in, but there is a near palpable rush in managing these objectives while trying to make it back to your garage in one piece.”
Need For Speed Rivals is available now for the PlayStation 4. The game releases for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 19, 2013, with the Xbox One arriving November 22.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.