Need for Speed The Run Review
The buzz for this game was the apparent focus on a story. It was an intriguing concept to break away from the traditional progression of racing games. But ultimately it was too ambitious of an idea as this racing game doesn�t tread too far off the beaten path.
The game starts with a bang as you have to instantly execute the quick time events (QTEs) to escape a car before it is crushed and then race away from the mobsters who chase you. You will then be incredibly impressed by the character models, especially that of Sam Harper who is voiced by the equally gorgeous Christina Hendricks. But then you should realize that as a racing game you won�t see these character models too often. Sam sends you on a massive race from San Francisco to New York with over 200 other racers to pass in between, all while your character is wanted by the cops and the mob. There are a few other moments where you break from the normal racing to participate in the interactive cutscenes, but for the most part the story doesn�t interfere much with the racing.
The courses are satisfying and varied, and the selection of cars won�t disappoint either, but this game is built on the idea of the story and the overall race across country. For better or worse, the actual race is divided into chunks and snippets. You only play a stretch of highway with the goal of passing so many racers or beating the clock. It�s a wonderful move that the tracks aren�t looped for the sake of replay value and multiplayer, but breaking the story up into pieces doesn�t help. It would probably be asking too much to actually race the entire length, even an abbreviated version, but the main game lacks a connection to the rival racers, leaves huge gaps in the race, and doesn�t explain why you are racing on one stretch of highway over another.
The racing itself is very mixed. On one hand it is arcade-like, and on the other it�s very easy to crash or trigger a reset. Some of the car physics, behaviors, and collision reactions don�t seem consistent. Without familiarity with the courses you will either need to watch the mini-map and road at the same time, or abuse the resets. You have about five in each race that will send you back to a recent safe spot after you crash. It�s a nice feature, but if you lose the race you have to suffer a full load time to restart. There are numerous shortcuts on the sides of the roads, but they are even harder to anticipate and I found myself crashing into many spots that looked like shortcuts. Finally, the races seem plagued with rubberband AI. There are nitrous boosts for short bursts, but that still doesn�t explain some of the passes or sudden slow-downs from your fellow racers. It�s not so apparent that you can mess up multiple times and expect to win, the tracks are too short for that, and because the tracks are so short it seems like each race is somewhat scripted. With a strict �win only� policy, there aren�t that many possibilities for how each track will be won.
Once the somewhat short and single-player is beaten you can test your skills in the multiplayer playlists. The approach resembles that of most popular shooters where you jump in with a set of players and you just keep racing continuously. Whoever wins the set of races will get the playlist victory. It�s not much fun to jump into an in-progress set, but there are enough tracks and things to unlock to keep you playing to reach the next level. The game uses a system called Autolog to keep track of your race times, level, and records. Within all the playlists will be objectives to meet, and upon completing so many you will unlock more playlists and cars. You can even play co-op and unlock new objectives. And if you play the multiplayer to death you can attempt the challenges which unlock after you complete segments of the main quest, and these challenges will prove difficult.
Overall there is nothing bad about The Run. It promised and did not deliver a completely engrossing story. It has its moments, but interactive cutscenes have become all too common in games these days that sprinkling a few into a racing game is not enough to fuel greatness. Still, The Run is a solid racing title that will no doubt provide a lot of fun for anyone willing to squeeze it out of the game. But there is plenty of room for improvement, and the idea of a great story-based racing game is still on the table for anyone to claim.
Final Rating: 78%. For a game that takes you from coast to coast it's short on both story and racing.