I’ve been looking around and noticing some confusion especially to the latest generation of consoles in regards to this year’s Need For Speed game and Need For Speed Rivals which actually came out a couple of years ago. I do have both iterations on the PS4 and I do like them both, but even though they both have the title of Need For Speed in them, there are differences between the two that I would like to go over that should help answer the question “What is Need For Speed Rivals?”
First of all as I mentioned above, Need For Speed Rivals was released a couple of years ago. It was also the last Need For Speed game to come out on the older generation of game systems such as the PS3 and Xbox 360 while also being the first Need For Speed game on the newer systems which are the PS4 and Xbox One. I did avoid buying it on the PS3 and opted to instead buy it on the PS4 since the PlayStation 4 was newly released at the time. You might be saying though, “That’s fine, but what is Need For Speed Rivals and how does it compare to this year’s NFS game?” Well, let’s take a look.
NFS Rivals is open world, but takes place in a more country/natural setting rather than a city. I’m usually more partial to free roaming games that have cities to explore, but it can be good to change it up a bit and have a nature setting as well. The terrain and roads are varied here and range from two lane roads, dirt and sand driving, shortcuts through farm fields, to winding mountain roads, a wide open freeway with construction of a large interchange (and ramp you can jump off of!) to oceanside driving. I really like the scenery especially in the mountains and all of this has a California type feel to it or even Colorado if you’re driving up in the mountains.
Even with this natural open world setting, the main focus of the game is racers versus the cops and that’s what the story focuses on (if you want to call it a story). There are two modes you can play in the game as well which are racers or cops and the vehicles associated with them. I’m not going to go into too much detail here so if you want to read overall of whether I enjoyed the game or not, you can check out the review I posted of the game.
Some other things I do want to mention though is that the vehicles you get access to have some performance upgrades, but it really is just very basic and not the more in-depth performance upgrades that you get access to in this year’s iteration of Need For Speed. The game focuses more on getting access to faster cars and defensive weaponry so to speak to defend yourself or take out other races including cops or at least slow them down. Another thing I do want to mention though is that Need For Speed Rivals was the first game in the series to require an internet connection to play the game. There was some groaning about it at first, but since you have to have a PS Plus account to play games online anyway, it wasn’t too bad in the end as long as EA’s servers were up and about. The new NFS game continues that tradition today though in my opinion it’s a lot more fun with other racers in Rivals than it is in this year’s game.
Moving on to this year’s Need For Speed, again, I don’t want to go super deep into it as you can read my fairly recent review of the game here. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, this year’s NFS is closer in feel to the Need For Speed Underground series from the PS2 days. The game focuses a lot more on deep customization of your vehicle than what Rivals did which I actually like because you can pretty much keep your car throughout the entire main story mode of the game without having to buy a faster car (though I did, because a few of the much later challenges did get REALLY challenging, but I only bought one other vehicle unlike Rivals).
I was happy to see that this year’s Need For Speed retained the open world setting and this time it was back to the city which is a fictional city called Ventura Bay that looks very similar to Los Angeles. The game generally has only a night setting though and the roads are pretty much rain slicked all the time which does make me miss the day and night cycle of Rivals. I will have to say though that the graphics are much improved and the car models are sharp looking and really look impressive when you customize the looks of it to your pleasing.
I also must say that even though the in game characters that you actually only see in the cut scenes, constantly harass you it seems on your in game phone, and drive against in a lot of the challenges seem kind of corny, they did grow on me and I was actually kind of sad that I wouldn’t be seeing them anymore since I beat the all the challenges in the main story of the game. Something else I want to mention too is that while there are cops that chase you in the game, they are pretty crappy and they are VERY easy to get away from. They really aren’t a challenge at all which was completely different in Rivals where the cops could be relentless and did everything they could to cause as much damage to you as possible and take you out. I can’t tell you the numerous times I got frustrated that I had acquired a lot of SP/money trying to run from the cops and make it to a safe house or gas station to get repaired only to have taken so much damage that a cop car would ram into me completely taking me out and busting me and losing all that money it took awhile to build up. That’s also what made the game challenging and fun too so I can’t completely knock it.
Well I hope this clears up what exactly Need For Speed Rivals is and the differences with this year’s Need For Speed game. EA decided to take a two year hiatus to try and revamp the Need For Speed series a bit which I think did work a little bit, but maybe not to the extent they would’ve liked. Still though, I did have fun with it and if you like open world games, the thrill of racing and upgrading your cars, getting into chaotic pursuits with the cops (Need For Speed Rivals is much better at that aspect) then you really can’t go wrong with either game. Heck get both of them if you can, and since Rivals has been out for a few years now you can get it at a much lower price compared to the new NFS game this year.