on 9 April 2013
This review is fairly late in terms of the fact that most people who would want this game will have bought it by now, but I feel it's worth commenting on some of the strange aspects of this game that make it good, but somewhat aggravating. Having played this game, I come to the conclusion that good or 'addictive' games generally fall into two categories: 1) simply great, and a pleasure to play so you play through to the end, 2) aggravating and irritating so you keep playing almost to spite the game.
So, having lead with that lets move on to the game. I am a casual gamer who plays infrequently, just for reference!
The good things are this is a great game to just sit down with and play, it's quick and easy to just jump in a car and start some races. A new style of NFS, in that you don't have to work your way up from the 'cheap' cars to the super cars, you can just use anything.
The races are engaging, the physics generally enjoyable and the control system works well. It's easy enough to get drifting and balance you speed and cornering. Furthermore the graphics and sound effects are good, with a good atmosphere almost all the time, and I enjoy the sound twisting from using nitrous and other things. Engine notes are also decently varied.
The list of things I don't like is much longer, but I must stress that the good parts outlined above although small in volume are very important, and just (just!) outweigh these issues:
- The "crashed" system, and related cutscene. When you have a "bad" crash, the car stops for a moment and you watch a scene of your car wrecked, and usually all the other racers shoot by at that point, putting you at the back of the race. The problem here is that what determines a "bad" crash is extremely variable, sometimes you may smack into a non-racing car at over 100mph and nothing happens, other times you may scrape sideways along a barrier at less than 50mph and boom, crash cutscene! The cutscene takes a while and is frustrating to watch when what causes it is so incongruous. After you've had to watch the cutscene many times in a race, you can get extremely fed up.
- When you are in a race, or finish a race there is no quick way to restart the race. This definitely goes under the 'glaring omission' heading. If you have totally messed up a race you have to go through the (just about acceptable) menu system to get back out of the race, and then use the menu system to retry the previous event. This is an unnecessarily long route. Similarly at the end of the race it will load back out of the race before you have the option to retry. I've never played a racing game where you can't just pause and restart a race, nor even restart immediately at the end of a race - frustrating.
- Similarly, and adding to the frustration if you restart a race regularly; every time you start a race the game loads a cutscene video thing. Admittedly some of these look quite cool, but they take a while to load, and then once you've seen them once (or even if you haven't) you skip it. So, you have to wait for a race to end and load back into free roam before you can restart a race, and once you've done that the game then spends a good chunk of time loading a cutscene, starts the cutscene, and then eventually you can skip it, before you actually get to the beginning of the race. I fear 'frustrating' is getting overused here but it is the main accurate description!
The above are my main aggravations from the game, but there are a few niggles as well:
- your progress through the game is unclear, e.g. "how many races have I completed with that car?" is only checkable by going into the car (loading it...) and then flicking through to the race list for that car and guessing from the slither of colour by the race name what position you came.
- the music is limited, and also not that new. Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers again? really? I would appreciate things mostly current, and certainly a few more tracks. Surely there's some spare room on that blu-ray?! [edit: looking at a soundtrack list online, there appear to be some songs I haven't heard, perhaps UK/EU version has less? either way it could use at least a doubling of the soundtrack size]
- Music changes regularly when you do things with the menu system e.g. start a race, and at some points I found myself hearing the first 20-30s of songs repeatedly as I did things in the game which gets tiring.
- The game is a tad buggy, I've had it crash a few times, especially when mixing into multiplayer and single player. In fact one crash was so bad it corrupted my save file and I lost my progress entirely. Thankfully I had already completed the single player story line, and gotten most of the trophies. If you hadn't though that would be extremely frustrating. I recommend backing up your save game if you are trophy hunting.
So, despite a long list of negatives, I have to say I still overall enjoyed the game. I completed the story line and then got all the trophies in order to get the platinum trophy. It isn't excessively challenging, but it's decent fun. Particularly, the new 'instant accessibility' approach makes it quite quick and easy to have a lot of fun and mess around in all the cars which is nice.
The negatives overall made me frustrated with the game however, and by getting the platinum trophy I didn't feel a sense of accomplishment as much as I felt satisfaction in beating the game for all the mess it puts you through with excessive loading and cutscenes (and if you are unlucky total system crashes).
In summary the good qualities of the game outweigh the negatives, but only just hence my three star rating. I would recommend this game to a casual gamer who likes cars and racing games. If you are proficient with odd menu systems and don't mind waiting for loading times and cutscenes that would help as well!