After Criterion’s Hot Pursuit last year, the reigns of development for this year’s Need for Speed: The Run, have passed back to developer Black Box. They’re looking at injecting a very cinematic experience in The Run as players embark upon the race of their life from San Francisco to New York in a bid to win $25 million. They recently released a demo on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network and this hands-on is based on that very same demo.

You have two cars to choose from in this single player demo, the Lamborghini Gallardo and the Porsche 911 Carrera S. The Porsche is locked and will only be available if you recommend the demo to a friend. You start things off with a normal race where you have to overtake ten opponents before you hit the finish line. This track takes place in a desert across the Nevada highway on a long winding road with a few sharp turns thrown in. A clean overtake nets you 50 XP while a dirty one, in which you probably bang up the dude’s ride only nets you 25 XP. This is probably EA’s way of encouraging players to play nice.

Racing for $25 million is no laughing matter

Racing for $25 million is no laughing matter

The second race is where things get real intense as you’ll be racing down a mountain peak through a freaking avalanche. For anyone who’s played Split/Second, this isn’t a big deal as the game constantly accosted you with such set pieces but for a Need for Speed game, this is a first. You’ll have to not only try and avoid driving over the railing but you’ll have constantly dodge all the debris Mother Nature throws your way.  If you smack your car headon into a rock or drive over a cliff, you get to rewind time and undo that fatal mistake. This concept is cool but the way it’s done in the game is pretty lame. Instead of actually showing the whole act of time manipulation in slow motion, you’ll be booted to a black screen where the Rewind icon will flash for a few seconds. Hit rewind and you’ll start off a few seconds before that plunge or crash. The Autolog feature from Hot Pursuit is back as well which means you can see how well your friends performed in a particular race and then continue to decimate their timing. Because that's what friends do.

Car control seemed a tad heavy but solid. Unfortunately due to the heavy handling of cars, I couldn’t manoeuvre my ride as responsively as I wanted to through all the debris. Maybe with a different car, things would play out differently. It turns out this game will also offer players some on-foot action, a first for any Need for Speed game but those segments weren’t available in this demo. Either way it isn’t a big deal as past gameplay videos suggest that all the out of vehicle action will be controlled by QTEs (Quick Time Events).

Racing for $25 million is no laughing matter

Racing for $25 million is no laughing matter

The game’s made using DICE’s Frostbite engine 2, the very same engine powering Battlefield 3 but that doesn’t mean you can destroy everything you see. I did experience a few slowdowns especially during the avalanche segment but then again, this is a demo so the full version may have all these issues sorted out. On the whole, I’d say the game looked pretty decent wtih special mention going to its lighting effects but then again, this was the Xbox360 version I tried out. I'm sure it will end up looking a lot better on a high end PC. What? You know it’s true.

So far, Need for Speed: The Run looks solid and if Black Box can keep up the intensity they did with the avalanche level, we could have a winner on our hands. Can it live up to the legacy laid down by Most Wanted after which the entire series took a nose dive? One can’t say at this point in time but I guess we’ll find out soon enough as the game releases by the 15th of November for the Xbox360, PS3 and PC.

Publish date: October 22, 2011 9:40 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 8:47 pm

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