Review: 'Rivals' a fast, furious 'Need for Speed'

Nov 19, 2013 by Derrik J. Lang
This photo provided by Electronic Arts shows a scene from the video game, "Need for Speed: Rivals." (AP Photo/Electronic Arts)

It's no secret the light launch lineup for next-generation consoles leaves a little something to be desired. However, there's at least one game that's sure to get next-generation owners' engines running—and their eyes bugging out. It's the dazzling street racer "Need for Speed: Rivals" (Electronic Arts, for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, $49.99).

"Rivals" is the 20th entry in EA's long-running "Need for Speed" series, which shows no signs of slowing down despite the age on its license. "Rivals" revs up the franchise by borrowing some of the best traits from past EA racing games, all while forging its own route with graphics that illustrate what's possible with new fully loaded gaming hardware.

The developers at Ghost Games, clearly influenced by 2008's chaotically awesome "Burnout Paradise," have crafted a minimalist "Need for Speed" that combines single- and multiplayer elements across a giant high-octane world completely unlocked from the outset. They also kept the experience tight by including just a handful of pitch-perfect race modes.

"Rivals" is set within Redview County, a California-esque domain where curvy canyon roads lead to unfinished bridges, beachy boulevards and a big ol' highway in the desert. Fortunately, the streets are devoid of gridlock, leaving them free to serve as a playground for the game's dueling factions: street racers and a special police task force that pursues them.

This photo provided by Electronic Arts shows a scene from the video game, "Need for Speed: Rivals." (AP Photo/Electronic Arts)

"Rivals" tries to form a narrative with interstitials featuring narrators spouting some of the cheesiest dialogue ever spoken in a game. (Perhaps the bar is intentionally being set low in advance of the "Need for Speed" movie adaptation set for release next year.) Luckily, they're speedy enough not to deter from the overall game.

"Rivals" players can switch between advancing as either a racer or a cop. Both sides offer dozens of different cars and upgrades for completing lists of tasks, like rear-ending the opposition a certain number of times or finishing particular races. The freewheeling approach makes for a game that's completely easy to pick up and play for five minutes or five hours.

Other than graphics, there aren't really any differences between the current and next-gen versions of "Rivals," but what a difference the glorious 1080p resolution of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions make. The polished details on the cars and crisp environments they fly through cement "Rivals" as possibly the best-looking game of the new generation.

This photo provided by Electronic Arts shows a scene from the video game, "Need for Speed: Rivals." (AP Photo/Electronic Arts)

With that combo of stunning visuals and fluid gameplay, "Rivals" excels at delivering an insane sense of speed without loss of control. Despite a silly attempt at a plot and some minor glitches while playing online, the exhilarating chases possible in "Rivals" make other racing games feel like you're just playing with Hot Wheels. Three-and-a-half stars out of four.

Explore further: Aaron Paul, Drake promote EA video games at E3

More information: www.needforspeed.com/rivals

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sony PlayStation 4 expected at NY event Wednesday (Update)

Feb 20, 2013

Sony is expected to unveil its next-generation gaming system at a New York event Wednesday evening, a development that would give the struggling electronics company a head start over Microsoft and an Xbox 360 successor.

Recommended for you

Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

Apr 18, 2014

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

Apr 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...