Developer: Black Box
Release Date: 11/15/2011
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The Good: Excellent visuals, varied environments, lots of fast real world cars, idea is interesting
The Bad: Only a few race types, gets repetitive quick, doesn’t last very long, not much to do after you beat the game
Need for Speed has taken many different directions in the last decade, but The Run tries to go back to its roots while trying something new. Sure you’re being chased by cops, doing illegal stuff in a car, great graphics, super fast sense of speed. Sounds like an NFS game right? Well in a sense it is, but it won’t change haters minds or make hardcore fans happy. This isn’t the true return like Hot Pursuit was, but it does convey a nice idea. You play as a guy named Jack Rourke who owes a mob a lot of money. You hear about a race from San Francisco to New York and your “agent” will give you a cut of the prize money and make your little mob problem go away. You start at the 200th place and make your way to 1st.
This sounds like it would take forever, or be just one straight race, but it isn’t. The game is broken down into 10 stages and each stage has various races. The terrain obviously changes a lot and this means lots of different environments to look at which gets help from EA’s latest Frostbite 2 engine that was used in Battlefield 3. While it doesn’t look as amazing as that game it looks fantastic and probably the best looking NFS game to date. There are so many different places to race from snow, open fields, farms, factories, cities, you name it. There are several different race types, but they are thrown up variously, but the overall experience is repetitive.
Races range from gaining a certain amount of positions to battling against the clock in elimination races. There are “boss” races that have you racing a good distance, there are also races solely against the clock to catch up time. That’s about all there is and the only thing keeping you from getting really bored are the constantly changing environments which are great to look at and not one stage is the same. There are some better elements that make the game thrilling and these are survival sections. One has you running from an avalanche, another from a helicopter shooting at you, as well as a mountain demolition, but these are so far and few between you yearn for them between the constant drag of gaining positions.
While these moments are highly entertaining, and probably the moments in the game, a few times Jack will get out of his car and initiate quick time events which are also entertaining, but pretty pointless since you normally don’t play an on foot NFS game. Don’t worry you don’t control him, just think of it as an interactive cut scene.
A great NFS game needs fast real world cars and there are plenty here from Ferrari to Lamborghini you will find it here. You can change cars by pulling into gas stations throughout stages, but overall you usually stick with one car until the next group is unlocked. You can earn experience through things like drifting, jumping, overtaking cars etc., but I found this kind of useless since you only earn one thing when leveling up and it’s usually an avatar or something like that. You can use resets during a race if you crash or really screw up, but watch out they are limited.
The game features Autolog that everyone has grown to love, plus there are Challenge Series races to do after you beat the short 4-5 hour campaign mode. Multiplayer is pretty standard and nothing to write home about, but The Run is a fun weekend rental and nothing more. You will quickly forget about this one, but the whole idea is fun while it lasts.