Publisher EA
Developer Ghost Games
Platform XB1, PS4, 360, PS3, PC
Release Date 11.19.2013 (Next-gen TBA)
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The Rundown

As the first project for Swedish developer Ghost Games (previously known as EA Gothenburg), Need for Speed Rivals comes in as the 20th chapter of the long-running Need for Speed franchise. Coming as a spiritual successor of sorts to Need for Speed: High Stakes, Rivals focuses on the cat-and-mouse world of those who live for the race, and the police officers sworn to stop them from doing so. Er, racing, that is. Not living.

The Verdict

I still remember playing Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit back on the original PlayStation. Not only were the game and its tracks utterly beautiful for the time (and hardware), but that aspect of adding the police element to a racing title was exciting and unique.

Going back to those ideas, Need for Speed Rivals brings that racers-vs.-cops dynamic back–to the point that you can play through the entire game either as a racer or as the police trying to catch them. (Or, if you’d like, you can finish both careers by swapping back and forth.)

In the demo we played at E3, I ended up in the role of a police unit. For me, it wasn’t about speed or building up point multipliers by showing off my skills—it was about taking out those players who were. As the police, it was in my best interest to chase down those racers who were leading the pack, as the higher ranked the racer you arrest is at the time, the more points you’ll earn for yourself.

Probably the most interesting aspect of Rivals is what the team at Ghost Games calls “AllDrive”. Under this system, concepts of separate single-player and multiplayer modes are gone. Everything now exists in the exact same game, and players can come into or exit from your world at any time. So, your friend could get themselves in trouble with the law in their game, and then suddenly, that police chase could spill over into your world.

I had a whole lot of fun with what I played of Need for Speed Rivals, and I think the difference in gameplay styles between racers and police will make for an interesting experience. My real question at this point is how all of this will work out when you’re out in the open world for any length of time. Racing games such as these can be enjoyable in small, concentrated bursts, but then sometimes things don’t hold up over the long run.

One aspects of Rivals I’m not worried about? The game’s visuals on next-gen consoles. We got to play on the PlayStation 4 build, and let me tell you, this is one heck of an impressive looking title.


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About Mollie L Patterson

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Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI. Find her on Twitter @suddenlymollie.