Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The theory will always apply

In the midst of learning Killer Instinct I have managed to put a few nights into Need for Speed Rivals. I hate it for the same reason that I am the only person in the entire world who thought Burnout Paradise was a significant step backwards for the series: these are racing games that are at all times trying to prevent the player from actually racing.

The very first thing I did in Rivals, after the tutorial was complete, was set up a private game. By default you are dumped into a game with random people, a mix of racers and cops, 90% of which are guaranteed to be douchebags. The next generation has proven to be no respite from Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. I was given the option to avoid this problem completely, and I gladly took it, yet a few conceits the game made towards its always online nature remained, namely that there is no pause. Once the player is out on the road the game never stops. This is especially troubling when trying to view the map and create a waypoint as cops will appear out of nowhere and bust you for sitting on the side of the road.

Speaking of cops, every race, regardless of how it begins, ends up as a clusterfuck of cops, racers, helicopters, spike strips, and cartoonish power ups that belong in Mario Kart. Some start that way on purpose but they all eventually degenerate into an unplayable mess. Even the time trials turn into chases if you are playing as a racer. Just driving around the city is a frustrating grind as you need to be constantly on guard, sneaking from safe house to safe house to keep the points you have acquired. When played as a racer this is not a racing game. I don't know what to call it. Bull shit comes to mind.

The other side of the game, playing as a cop, is less annoying but not necessarily more fun. Time trials are completable because no one is going to chase you for going too fast. Every other mission boils down to chasing racers, either individually or in packs, and running them off the road. It gets old quickly. Once I had become accustomed to how the cars handle (closer to Burnout than Forza, but not close enough) I ran out of things that I wanted to do.

Open world racing games can work. Forza Horizon was an excellent game. It let me explore when I wanted to explore and more importantly it let me race unmolested when I wanted to race. Rivals does neither or these things. All it does well is embarrass itself with a questionable soundtrack and a ridiculous anti-establishment 'storyline.' This is the first Need for Speed game I have played in many, many years. It has not convinced me to give the franchise another chance.

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