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NFS: The Run review

It didn’t feel like we were playing Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for very long before EA came out and introduced us to the next game in the franchise, Need for Speed: The Run. Now here we are several  hours later watching the credits roll on our HDTV. So was this game worth the relatively short wait?

Need For Speed: The Run is a strange one really, if I had to describe its purpose then I would probably call it a stop gap between Hot Pursuit and the next game in the series. The reason I think this is because there just isn’t that much meat too it. I mean sure, outside the single player you have challenges based on the routes you unlock along the way, multiplayer modes and the autolog, however we had most of this in Hot Pursuit, so was there really any need for yet another game in the series? Let the campaign tell us the answer.

The story behind The Run’s campaign puts you in control of Mr Jackson “Jack” Rourke. When you join him he is in a rather bad way, having fallen on the wrong side of the Mafia; not a good place to be I’m sure you will agree. Anyway, after escaping The Mob, an associate known as Sam Harper directs him to a competition known as The Run, a 3000 mile journey across the continental United States, starting in San Francisco and ending in New York. What’s good about this is that the prize for coming first is $25,000,000, which is enough to pay off his debt and give him a rather comfortable life.

As you would expect, coming in first place and therefore winning the cash is not going to be easy, after all, you do have to take care of 200 opponents, avoid the police, the mob and put up with a whole lot of mundane cutscenes and QuickTime events which see you pressing buttons based on prompts to get yourself out of certain situations. Thankfully what The Run does best is the driving, giving gamers access to a whole load of different vehicles over the games 10 stages.

Each stages is broken down into three or four different events, sometimes more. Most of the driving will have you trying to gain positions in one way or another, for example, in one race you may be tasked with getting to the finish line ahead of ten other cars in order to gain on the overall leader; while in another race you may have to catch an opponent and keep the lead until the time runs down, before repeating the process with the next opponent. There are many other types of events too, such as racing to checkpoints and going one on one against boss characters.

Obviously you won’t always win races and if you do then its simply a case of the stage being over, with your only option being to restart. Thankfully to combat this, the developer has included a rewind feature. The amount of times you can rewind is based on the difficulty you choose and when used throws you back to the nearest checkpoint, giving you another chance to win. What annoys me most about this feature is that it seems to take forever to load and get you back in the race, while on occasion it will also place you in a position from which its just impossible to win, causing you to have to start the race again.

To mix things up a little the developer has thrown a few spanners in the works in the shape of the police and later, The Mob. Obviously since you are speeding about the US, the police aren’t happy about it, therefore during many of your races they will be in your face, trying to knock you off the road or throwing road blocks in your way to try and stop you winning the race. Once The Mob are involved things get even tougher, since they shoot at you and later, even use a helicopter to try and bring you down.

Thankfully despite all this nastiness, you do at least have some tricks up you sleeve; during a race, you can drive into a petrol garage and you will be able to swap cars, going for speed or muscle depending on the environment you are driving in. Another bonus is that when you can gain experience during a race, allowing you to increase in level and unlock perks such as nitrous boost. Increasing in level also gives you even more ways to gain experience, later awarding you for ramming opponents and police cars off the road, or for avoiding road blocks. As you gain in level you will also unlock other items such as custom profile icons, backgrounds and the occasional vehicle.

As is always the case in NFS, the driving in The Run is a joy. The cars are fast and fun to go behind the wheel of, offering a great, arcade-like experience. The roads in each stage are also a pleasure to drive on, while also offering a wide ranging experience, placing you in city streets; wide open country side and hazardous, snow covered mountain tracks, which have you biting your fingers to the bone. There can certainly be no complaints about the driving, it’s just a shame that there isn’t a little more variety in terms of the campaign.

Outside of the campaign you can also take part in single player challenges. Each challenge is based on the stages you unlock as you play through. Challenges consist of various events from the simple such as finishing first in a race to things like beating the clock or a rival. Depending on your time in each challenge you will win a medal and as per Hot Pursuit, any time you set will be placed on the Speedwall.

Obviously, thanks to Autolog and the Speedwall, friends always know your score, so can challenge you on any of the stages you have unlocked. You can also check out friends individual stats and of course any recommendations which the game has for you. The Autolog section also has an area where you can change your profile and view friends individual stats.

The final section of the game is the multiplayer. Here you can set a playgroup by inviting friends, or you can just jump online and take part in a random event, trying to meet any of the objectives which are available to view before the race starts, which in turn will earn you XP.

Like I said near the start of the review, Need for Speed: The Run is a strange one. We could have done without another game in the series so soon as to be perfectly honest, Hot Pursuit is still an amazing game with a more than sufficient multiplayer aspect. If you don’t own Hot Pursuit then The Run is definitely one to consider, however if you are looking at The Run for the campaign alone, then you may find its petrol tank is half empty, rather than half full.

Rating: GoodReview Policy

You can order Need for Speed: The Run from ShopTo here.

Edited On 17 Nov, 2011

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