Everyone remembers their first Need for Speed. For many people my age, the likes of Underground 2, Most Wanted or Carbon were their first, but I personally didn’t sample the Need for Speed franchise until 2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. While it may be a slight case of “rose-tinted specs”, I still believe it’s the best Need for Speed to date. However, the new Need for Speed (that’s its name, there is no subtitle) could easily take that crown based on my 15 minute hands-on session at E3.
After being talked though the basics and why they are rebooting it, I was straight into a hands-on session where we were given the choice of 5 cars. I went for a Porsche, gave it a nice green paint job and a new spoiler in the customisation options, and then checked out the car handling settings. Here, with adjustments to a few simple and easy to understand options, I was able to change how my car behaved, whether I wanted to set it up to drift round corners with the slightest tap of L2 or if I wanted tons of grip to all but remove the drifting option ,and actually have to consider breaking when going into a sharp bend. Despite my usual preferences (I’ll take a sim over an arcade racer any day), I decided to air on the drifting side, although not as much as I could have done, and went out into the open world to see how it worked.
Instantly I was dropped into a race that was almost a straight sprint, bar a couple of sharp turns towards the end. Despite not being the best at racing games I managed to easily come first, weaving through the pack within the first few seconds and never giving up the lead. The action was fast-paced, as you can imagine, with cars whipping around all over the shop and occasionally crashing out – and it looked beautiful. Need for Speed was easily one of the best looking games at E3, the darkness of the city offset by the rapid moving lights of other cars and bright-lit signs flashing by.
After the race was over we were dumped into the open world with instructions to “do whatever the hell you want”. Some chose to just drive around, exploring the area we were in, while others like myself decided that the most fun thing to do was to try the events. After heading to a crossroads I started up a time trial, racing around a set lap around the city streets trying to do it in under 90 seconds. Even for a man of my skills this didn’t prove difficult, and after a couple of laps I finished and jumped straight into a drifting competition. This is where my car setup really helped, as drifting became incredibly easy. I was informed that, even had I selected more grip, drifting was still possible with use of the hand break, but tuning a car for the drifting events seems like the best way of doing things.
There really isn’t much else to say on Need for Speed. It feels great to play, it is visually stunning and really does seem like the complete Need for Speed package, encompassing everything that people have enjoyed from the majority of previous entries and skipping out the bits that didn’t go down so well. Sure, there was the occasional minor issue such as the customisation menus not being as clear as they could be or some corners being a bit too dark to see properly (although I don’t think the horrific lighting in the demo room helped much), but they were all fairly insignificant gripes.
Once that event wrapped up the session only had 30 or so seconds left, so I started messing around, trying to do donuts and smash into the other people playing (sorry guys!). But after leaving the preview room I could only think one thing, and that was how much I enjoyed the time I had with the game. It absolutely flew by; not once did I clock-watch to see how much longer I had to play for (which was the case in a few other demos), nor did I ever feel like there was nothing to do. While racing games aren’t always my thing, this one really grabbed me and I’m massively looking forward to playing it again.