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Need For Speed: Rivals PS4 Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Need For Speed: Rivals

Need For Speed: Rivals

Image © EA
The differences between “Need For Speed: Rivals” on the PS4 and its recent competition on the PS3 are subtle but crucial. It’s in the way the car handles on the road; how you can almost feel it rumbling beneath the wheels in ways you can’t on the PS3. It’s in the way rain hits the hood and obscures your view of the opponent ahead of you in a level of detail that developers have never captured the impact of mother nature on driving before. The motion of the vehicle drifting around a corner or ricocheting off another driver at 100MPH. The upgrades from previous “Need For Speed” games (this is the 20th, believe it or not) to the first of the new generation may seem minor in that the structure and gameplay are similar to last-generation driving games but those upgrades are apparent in nearly every moment you’re on the road in this, one of the absolute best games you can buy for the PlayStation 4.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Ghost Games
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Gorgeous Graphics, Deep Customization, Gameplay Variety
  • Cons: Natural Repetition of the Genre, Similar Environments in Which to Race


Need For Speed: Rivals

Need For Speed: Rivals

Image © EA

The team at Criterion Games, including many who were responsible for arguably the best driving game of the PS3 generation – the masterful “Burnout: Paradise” – now work for Ghost Games and they have delivered a game that feels more like a natural follow-up to that “Burnout” game than any other to date. It has a similar open-world style, one in which races, time trials, and other driving events can pop up anywhere in this universe. It’s a style enhanced greatly by the emphasis by Sony with the PS4 to be a social machine. You’re driving along, just exploring the environment, and you can be challenged by a real-life gamer in another vehicle at every turn. It the most cohesive blend of single and multi-player gaming to date as you alternate what would be called “campaign” progress by competing in events and upgrading your garage of vehicles with online play. And the “NFS” concept of the Autolog returns, an interface which allows friends to challenge you with posted times in nearly every aspect of the game, from races to just clocked speed in certain traps. There’s ALWAYS something to do in the world of “Need For Speed: Rivals.”

The most notable achievement of “Rivals” is its visual strength but it would be nothing if the developers didn’t keep the game fresh by always providing new challenges. Racing games suffer from an inherent degree of repetition. They’re bound to aggravate those gamers who need something new every twenty minutes. The fact is that you will drive some races and compete in some events in “Rivals” that will be nearly identical to one you’ve already completed. And yet the developers do a remarkable job in the variety of events and gameplay styles within “Rivals.”

Much like “Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit,” you can alternate between the life of a high-speed racer and a cop trying to bust them. Nearly every event in which you compete will be accompanied at some point by cops trying to take you down. If they catch you, not only do you lose the event but you lose all experience points (the currency with which you will buy new cars, performance upgrades, and customization of your vehicle) that you haven’t banked in a hideout. If you’re a racer, it’s a constant flow of what needs to happen next. You need to win, you need to escape, you need to get your vehicle repaired, you need to face a challenge from an online player, you need to get to your hideout quickly, and then you need to do it all again. This urgency in the gameplay design of “Rivals” is its greatest gameplay asset in that there’s no time to notice the repetition or too allow the standard tedium of racing games to sink in. You’re moving too fast.

Graphics & Sound

To say that “Need For Speed: Rivals” looks incredible on the PS4 would be a massive understatement. In some ways, no game in the launch window looks better (with the possible exceptions of “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” and “Battlefield 4”). The detail of the racing experience doesn’t just feel environmental – it impacts the gameplay. The weather, the road conditions, the upgrades to your vehicle – these are all incorporated into the way your car moves on the road and the way that’s graphically represented. “Rivals” might be the best-looking racing game to date. My only complaint would be that a lot of the environments start to feel interchangeable. I wanted a bigger world with more of a variety of weather conditions and locales. The world of “Rivals” starts to blend together even if that blend is gorgeous.


Need For Speed: Rivals

Need For Speed: Rivals

Image © EA
We’re going to be doing a lot of PS4 coverage here at About.com, having already reviewed “Knack” and working on reviews of “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” “NBA 2K14,” and generation comparisons of “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” “Battlefield 4,” and “Assassin’s Creed IV.” With all of the gaming being done over here in the world of the PS4, the blunt truth is that few of these games are allowed to make a true mark before we have to move on to something else. The awe is short-lived. And yet every time I fire up “Rivals,” there’s a sense that it’s a step above what has come before and pioneering the way to the next generation instead of just being a part of it.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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