Need for Speed: Rivals Review
With Need for Speed: Rivals the traditional way of a separate single- and multiplayer disappears and they introduce AllDrive. No more will you be alone in a widespread open world with computer controlled opponents but human players will be driving around as well. Everyone has the choice to go his own way within the two campaigns that the game has to offer, but of course, you could interact with other players whenever you feel like it.
The same goes for the other players, which could give a race which you are about to win a sudden twist into an intense pursuit. Even without extra pressure from human players, Rivals is a very challenging game. The first place is almost never a piece of cake and the speed is always extremely high.
For that matter Rivals is, after Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, again an exciting arcade racer from the EA stables. Your dashboard is almost always showing 150 miles per hour and the faster cars reach 217 miles per hour easily. The turns don’t give a lot of problems because without too many effort your car slides into a delicious drift. The brake pedal is hardly used. The handbrake is a little more difficult to handle. Especially at sharp angle bends you will be tempted to use it, which most of the time results in multiple donuts or your car goes into a skid. The handling is perfect in normal bends as long as they are not too sharp. A lot of technique is not needed for this game but it looks and feels great.
Freedom & Happiness
One of the campaigns lets you play as a street racer and the other one you will be in the shoes of the police. You can switch stories whenever you want which gives you infinite diversity. You choose your own starting point every time en you will never have to stick to a certain structure of the races and missions. You have the opportunity to choose from 3 different objectives and every one will be a different driving/gameplay style.
Although there are loads of other players on the road too, the game is by the way fully playable offline, you won’t be bumping in to them all the time. During the story of the racer I encountered only three drivers and not one time they interfered with me. Most of them go their own way. With a max of 5 human players per world which is ridiculously huge this shouldn’t be a surprise but I feel that this is a missed opportunity.
AllDrive is at its best when you play with your friends. The game lacks a lobby system which makes it practically impossible to race with people you don’t know. Because to start a multiplayer race everyone needs to regroup at a starting point of an event to start simultaneously. Try to fix that with people you don’t know. When you play as the cops you don’t fit in at all. No event is the same in both stories, so the starting point is not even visible for the police players. It’s only possible to act on situations if you know that somewhere something is going down. The on screen minimap is not able to zoom out, so in a chase you will find yourself taking wrong turns. This is a bit of shame because it makes it very easy to lose other players. Next to that you will notice that a lot of players go directly to their hideout when you go and chase them.
The difference between the two campaigns next to the missions is mostly the playing style. As a racer you are extremely vulnerable en you always feel some sort of tension. Everything you do in the game, from speeding to drifting will get you Speed Points, the currency of Rivals. These fill up a meter which determines how hard the coppers are looking for you. The higher the so called Heat-level, the heavier your arrest is going to be. But because a higher Heat-level will also get you a bigger multiplying bonus for you points you will have to walk the thin line between risk and reward. Obviously, if you get caught you lose all your points. Luckily there is a gps which will always be able to lead you to a garage to repair your car or a hideout to put your points onto your account and resets your Heat-level.
If you play as the police, the game is completely different. Especially more relaxed. You don’t have to worry about losing points if you wreck your car. However you can’t build a multiplier as a cop. The only way to get a lot of points at once is to takedown racers with a high Heat-level. This won’t be easy, because in Rivals you smash your opponents’ car until their health bar is empty. But after all, the rewards are high, especially against a human player.
With the Speed Points you can buy new cars and tune them as a racer. You could lift your top speed or improve the acceleration and make your frame a bit stronger so you can withhold more smashes. So also in this sequel no in-depth tuning options. There is a diversity of gadgets which you can install so that on the highway chase you can throw your opponents from the road or make it more difficult for the police to catch you.
The police has a lot less options if it gets to spending money. One of the benefits of being a cop is that you don’t have to buy any cars. Once you unlock one, you can hit the road instantly. However the disadvantage is that you can’t upgrade them. Fortunately at the end of the campaign you will receive a few supercars which could easily compete with the most tuned racing cars. Just like the racers you will have access to gadgets which could be the opportunity to call for additional backup like roadblocks or helicopters.
The main things which pops out as a racer is that you are constantly driving from one hideout to another to cash out your points. As a cop you’re mainly on stakeout because you can’t lose your earned points. These simple nuances will let playing as a cop feel like you are the bad guy. You are constantly taking points from these poor street racers, but damn that feels good!