- Xbox One
For as long as I remember I’ve received a Need for Speed game every year for Christmas. I have never been into the simulator racing games because they never felt like fun. Racing the same official course over and over and sometimes doing it backwards just didn’t excite me. Need for Speed 2015 has a massive legacy to live up to.
The biggest issue I faced was nostalgia. The Need for Speed franchise has had many successful titles but unfortunately its track record has been tarnished. The last couple of releases failed to deliver the Need for Speed experience the fans were looking for. This has caused many fans to give up on the franchise. To me, this Need for Speed was the one that would decide if all hope was lost or if the franchise was still worth spending my hard earned money on. For the sake of this review I will avoid comparing this game to the previous ones as much as possible.
Lets start with the story. You are the new kid in town. You finish your first race and get approached by a guy named Spike who is very impressed with your performance and invited you to hang out with the rest of his crew. From there you get to meet all of the main characters. Each character you meet represents a certain type of race or element in the game.
Need for Speed uses live action cinematic to tell the story. The camera is in a first person perspective so it feels like the characters are talking and interacting with you directly. This was a nice touch and made the cut scenes a little more personal. These cinematic weren’t overused and they offered a nice break in between the constant racing. The acting was lukewarm in my opinion. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t great either. The first few cinematic felt a bit awkward. It was kind of like when you meet a group of people for the first time. You don’t really know how you feel about them but they keep inviting you to go out with them. By the end of the game I felt like only one of the actors was any good at acting. The others clearly tried but sometimes they tried too hard and it didn’t feel like an authentic experience.
Each character you meet represents a specific style of racing or element and you will race with them and other AI controlled cars. Each character also has an icon which you end up meeting and racing against towards the end of that race style. These icons are real icons from around the world which I thought was really cool.
Spike does the Speed events and his race icon is Magnus Walker. Manu does the style races which involves gymkhana and his icon is Ken Block. Amy does the circuit races as well as representing the build section and her icon is Nakai-san. Robyn does the drifting races and represents the crew element and her icon is the group Risky Devils. The last style in the game is the Outlaw element and I will avoid spoiling who that racer as it its kept a secret until the end of the game but the icon is Morohoshi-san. Don’t worry, I also only knew who Ken Block was.
A negative aspect about your relationship with these characters is that they feel the need to constantly call you and remind you about that race you should do. It gets really annoying when I’m doing other races to save up for that part and I keep getting calls to remind me that I must do the race.
Need for Speed has always been my favorite racing franchise. This one has made it into my top three and its because it did a lot of things right when it came to the actual gameplay. At its core it is a racing game and while there are multiple mechanics surrounding the gameplay, the actual racing that takes place is very good. There are five different styles of racing as I stated earlier but honestly you can just classify them as either races or drifting events.
I found myself favoring the drifting evens because the drifting mechanic was the best part of the entire game. I felt nothing but joy when I took my Ford Mustang around corners. The smoke and the sound while you watch the car go side ways past your opponents was just amazing. All the other styles of racing were equally as good. I realized very quickly that you can’t finish the game with just one car unless you want to constantly tune the cars performance and honestly I wasn’t prepared to sit through more loading screens than what was necessary. By the end of the game I had two main cars. One for the racing events and one for the drifting events.
Need for Speed does have a leveling system. You gain points by doing actions which are related to the 5 racing styles in the game such as drifting or gaining top speed. What’s different about this game is that your level doesn’t restrict what cars you can buy. All you need to do is have enough money to buy the cars. To earn money you have to complete races. The only items that are restricted by your level are the performance parts you can buy for your cars. Its the usual mechanic to prevent the play from feeling that the races are too easy because your car would obviously be too fast for the AI if you could buy any part you wanted if you had the money.
The game also features what they call Collectibles. Scattered around the city are Free Parts which you can add to only one car once you have collected it. I never used any of these free parts so they felt like a waste of time. The other collectible were the Vista Spots. These are areas in the game where the in game camera will change to a specific angle, showing you the awesome environment and allowing you to position your car for an awesome screenshot. I enjoyed finding these. The last collectible were the cars you could challenge. All of the cars you can buy in the game are somewhat actively driving around the map and you can go and challenge them to a race. If you beat the car, it gets marked off your list. I managed to beat every car except two which seem to be bugged. Another issue with this was that not all the cars spawn when driving around. I had to teleport to specific race events to force certain cars to spawn.
Lastly throughout Need for Speed there are certain products which are heavily endorsed. I couldn’t help but notice that instead of drinking beer when the crew goes out, everyone drinks Monster energy drinks. It seems to be the only available source of liquid besides what I assume is coffee. There are also AI driven trucks with the Hot Wheels logo on them which I found strange and also slightly annoying as the seem to always be positioned in front of me as I go around corners.
The cops were the most disappoint part of this game for multiple reasons. They were just way too easy. I found myself driving slow on purpose just to keep the pursuit timer going and there were even instances where I had to go back and fetch the cop because he drove into a wall or something stupid.
Another issue was that the roadblock and spike strip mechanics weren’t implemented well. Spike strips never appeared outside of the Outlaw races. The roadblocks did make an appearance once in a while but not often enough. Half the time I couldn’t even find a cop which is a pretty big problem for a Need for Speed game. I tried not to compare the cop mechanics in this game to another one of the more popular Need for Speed game but overall it was just pathetic. I really hope they release a patch to bring better AI and mechanics to the cops because it would make the game so much better.
Something must be said about the graphics of this game. From the very first trailer there was massive hype about how the game looks. In some ways this definitely attributed to the games success. If it didn’t look this good then I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Besides the details of the cars, the world you race in was beautiful. The only issue I had was that it was always raining and it was always night time. It would have been amazing to have a day and night cycle as well as different weather states.
Even the in game screen shots made my jaw drop. It tickled my nostalgia bone especially when it came to the customization options. It was something I was looking forward to the most mainly because customization hasn’t been a part of a Need for Speed game for a few years now. As with most things, there was a lot to live up to and the customization had a huge mountain of expectations to beat. I wish I could say it climbed that mountain and conquered it but it unfortunately fell short.
Lets start with what was fun about the customization mechanics, the paint wraps.This has been a feature in most of the Need for Speeds and you can see how its evolved over time. There are a large variety of logos and stickers and shapes that you can use and color as you please. Pretty much anything is possible as long as you have the creativity to make it. I spent hours customizing my paint wraps and they really do give each car a unique look and feel. Even the paint options gave you a lot freedom. One feature that was missing however was the option to mirror your vinyls from one side of the car to the other and I cannot describe how frustrating that was. After spending roughly an hour on the one side of the car, I had to somehow replicate it on the other side and it looks so stupid because the vinyls ended up going opposite ways. Luckily this was fixed in a recent patch.
As for the physical customization options, there was not a lot of options. That really disappointed me. There’s nothing worse than going around your car and seeing that there are no parts available even after finishing the game 100%. maybe I missed something or maybe more parts will be available in a DLC, which wouldn’t surprise me though. The parts that were available were decent. Installing singular parts made the car look cool but certain areas of the car had more parts than other. For example there are more hood parts than side-skirt parts. To really make your car look awesome the only option you had was to install a body kit and while some of them were really impressive, it took the joy out of taking time to chose the part you really liked. Unfortunately nostalgia played a huge part in my disappointment.
Besides the visual side of things, you can also customize your cars performance. As you racer level gets higher you will get access to more powerful performance parts. The game has gone more in depth with the parts you can purchase this time around and it ties in with the other performance customization section. You can also fine tune certain aspects of your car such as your handling, cambering your wheels, your handbrake strength and so on. While I was terrible at fine tuning my car, it actually makes a huge difference to how your car drives. Over tuning the drift makes the car impossible to control and so on. It makes things feel more realistic which was great.
The game does have a very basic online functionality. Its very streamlined and simple. Like most games now days, you need a permanent internet connection to play the game. When click play you are put onto a server with other random players. There are advantages and disadvantages to this however.
The advantages of this system is that if you want an extra challenge you can go and race the other players who are on the server with you. This works the same as challenging the AI racers. Besides challenging the other players, you can also create a crew and do races together. It adds more depth to just a single player experience. Something I experienced was when I had parked my car randomly on the side of a raod and another play drove up to me and started doing donuts in front of me. I joined in and we did donuts together for about a minute before he drove off. It was a really cool experience.
There are a few disadvantages of having other real time players with you. The major one I found is that I would be doing a race, I would go around a corner and have another real time player just blast past me and more often than not, the player would drive straight into me, forcing me to restart the race. You don’t get put onto a separate server while you are doing a race and I yes it does make it feel like a more authentic experience but at the same time it really sucks.
Lastly, there is a feature called Snapshot. Now from the word go this fancy new feature never worked for me which was highly frustrating. Snapshot allows you to take in-game screenshots of your cars or while you are driving and lets you upload them and share them. Luckily for me my Xbox One has a screenshot functionality so I was still able to take screenshots. Its nice that the developers added this feature to the game because it allows you to see how creative some people can be with the tools the give us and I’ve seen some amazing creations online. You can see that the visual side of things was definitely one of the main focuses of the game.
// Need for Speed 2015 feels like a fresh start to a dying franchise. There were equal advantages and disadvantages but either way it was a great attempt with amazing visuals. //