Although a full month remains before Need for Speed The Run lands on store shelves, today is a big day for the game. A brand new demo has just hit Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and Electronic Arts has announced the game’s lead actors.
From the initial announcement that Black Box would be heading up development duties on Need for Speed The Run, fans of the series anticipated a return to the story-heavy style of Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Need for Speed Carbon. The Run is set to deliver on the promise of storytelling like no Need for Speed game before, and to that end has enlisted the talents and likeness of Mad Men‘s lovely Christina Hendricks and Sean Faris of The Vampire Diaries.
Don’t expect The Run to simply recreate the storytelling style of Black Box’s previous Need for Speed games, as the new title — powered by DICE‘s remarkable Frostbite 2.0 engine — is making use of cutting edge performance capture, too.
Need for Speed The Run Executive Producer Jason DeLong praises the new tech.
“Our innovative, all-new performance capture technology pushes the boundaries of character animation allowing us to perfectly capture Christina and Sean’s likeness resulting in an engaging narrative experience coupled with top-notch racing.”
Hendricks, in her video game debut, portrays Sam Harper, “a woman with ambition, street smarts and a penchant for lightning fast cars.” Faris, naturally, steps into the role of protagonist Jack Rourke, a driver with a price on his head. She fronts the money, he drives the car, and together they hope to win the $25 million dollar jackpot that waits at the end of the race from San Francisco to New York.
But why wait when you can play the demo right now? As pointed out in the video above, Need for Speed The Run’s demo includes two gorgeous cars (the Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni and the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S, which is unlocked “when gamers refer a friend to download the demo”), two courses to race (the Desert Hills of California and Independence Pass of Colorado), and Autolog support.
Playing through the demo, the series’ trademark control style is immediately evident, with heavy cars, wide turns, and fish-tailing power slides. Going all out, the sense of speed can be bracing. But graphically, the game — based entirely on experience with the demo — doesn’t deliver as much as fans may have hoped.
To be sure, The Run looks good, particularly its environmental events, such as the avalanches that pepper Independence Pass (check them out in The Run’s Gamescom 2011 trailer). But in the wake of Forza Motorsport 4‘s peerless visuals (and, to an extent, the amazing crashes in Need for Speed Most Wanted, which are not recreated in the new game), the landscapes of The Run come across as lifeless and visually flat. Hopefully, story sequences and varied environments will add some luster to the finished game.
Need for Speed fans, have you played The Run’s demo? What do you think of it? And how about the casting of Christina Hendricks and Sean Faris?
Need for Speed The Run releases November 18, 2011, for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, and PC.
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