Friday 6 November 2015

Need For Speed 2015

The new Need For Speed game is being developed by Ghost Games and was released on 4th November 2015. I picked up the PS4 version of the game on launch day and have been playing it quite a bit since. Of course I had to buy the MX-5 as soon as possible, there are two in the game - a 1996 NA model, and the 2015 ND.

So far the game has been a mixture of pretty fun arcade style racing with added customisation let down by many frustrating design choices that ultimately sour the experience.

There's nothing in the game that hasn't been done before and done better. Strange gameplay design decisions such as not being able to save tuning setups, limiting your garage to five cars, visual mods having no effect on the game, and not making the map teleport feature clear are not helpful. Silly collectibles that require you to do a donut to "collect" them? Terrible map system that lacks basic features such as setting waypoints to meet up with friends. A very limited cosmetic-only damage model (nothing like Burnout's takedowns).

The requirement to drive up to an event's start point and "face the right way" is just unnecessary. Also, for a game pushing the social aspects with always online gameplay, it offers no way to interact with other players other than crashing into them. You can't flash lights or sound your car horn or develop a rivalry, simple things like that are lacking.

So far the game is outclassed in all but one aspect by Burnout: Paradise, a game several years old whose features should have been built upon for this generation not simply ignored. Need For Speed's only saving grace at the moment is the garage and modification feature. Spending time in the garage listening to the soundtrack and taking pictures of your car is far more fun than driving round a largely deserted city on a drizzly night - that's a bad sign for a driving game.

The customisation aspect is not without flaws though. While it's nice to see many real world parts featured in the game, the menus are horrible to use, the interface is slow and at times unresponsive. The vehicle wrap & decal editor is overly complex, awkward to use and lacking basic features. For example if you want the same decal on the left and right side of your car, you're going to have to take a guess to get it the same size.

The story mode's live action cutscenes are nicely produced and even manage to feature your current car in the background, but the script is terrible and the characters quickly become annoying. After watching a few scenes you realise they add nothing to the game and thankfully you can skip through them - although expect even more irritating and repetitive phone calls. The resources put into these scenes would have been better spent adding a manual gearbox and more variety - what happened to the drag races? and the cheering crowds?.

The AI leaves a lot to be desired too. In some races they drive very slowly until you are in the lead, then they will come zooming past at ridiculous speed as if attached by a bungee rope. The graphics on PS4 are not particularly spectacular either, they're passable but only because everything is so dark. There are some nice lighting effects and raindrops though, also the car selection is good with fairly accurate models. Oh and the soundtrack is decent.

There's a lot of potential here but it's misfiring at the moment, perhaps with updates and feedback things will improve.
UPDATE: As expected the game has been expanded with the free "Icons" and "Legends" updates which added various content including new race events. Unfortunately these races are just more of the same and don't really add anything you've not done before. Also included were the '99 Skyline GT-R, new customisation parts that should have been there anyway, some recycled music tracks from old NFS games, and two cars that you should have received on finishing the original game, these being Ken Block's custom Hoonicorn Mustang and Morohoshi’s Lamborghini Diablo SV.

You can probably tell I'm not a fan of the trend in gaming for drip feeding content to players in an attempt to keep them interested. Why not just make a good game to begin with and save all this nonsense of updates and patches?

Anyway, NFS now includes a new bodykit for the MX-5 ND which I'm showcasing below. The new parts include drift style front and rear bumpers, vented bonnet, extended side skirts, racing mirrors, and a smart looking rear ducktail spoiler.
Need For Speed Mazda MX-5 ND5RC
Need For Speed Mazda MX-5 ND5RC
Need For Speed Mazda MX-5 ND5RC
Need For Speed Mazda MX-5 ND5RC