PC Review: Need for Speed: The Run

Should you run out and buy this latest racer?

Need for Speed has had a bit of success lately with Hot Pursuit and Drift 2, both brilliant games and so the obvious question was where would the series go from there? Then E3 arrived and the answer was unveiled…Need for Speed: The Run, a racing game from one side of America to the other, thrown in with quicktime events between races. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but is it or does it have a few tricks up its sleeve?

The Run’s story is basic, essentially you’ve got yourself into a lot of debt and everyone’s trying to kill you. But a proposition comes along to save your life and walk away with a few million bucks to boot, the job is to basically race from San Francisco to New York and beat the other 250 racers also doing the same, while avoiding the cops and others who get in your way. It’s simple stuff but does just enough to make you play to the end, which unfortunately is very quick…I completed The Run in just 2 hours.

2 hours? You heard right. If only driving from SF to NY would take 2 hours in real life! The locations along the way represent a few of America’s famous landmarks, but you’ll mostly be driving along the freeways to your goal. It isn’t one continuous race though, it’s split up into different types where in some you’ll have to make it to the checkpoint but also pass a number of drivers, or in another you’ll have to hit checkpoints before the timer runs out. For veterans of the NFS series, you’ll breeze through it with ease.

The quicktime events aim to mix up the experience, but they feel completely pointless and unnecessary. I don’t know why they decided to add these in, it’s a mystery. As you progress towards New York, you can stop off at gas stations and change your car with resources earned from some of the challenges outside of the main campaign, which extends the lifespan a lot more…but it’s entirely optional. Everything you do gains you experience points that levels you up in the AutoLog, plus you can stack up your times against your friends as in Hot Pursuit. Multiplayer is pretty good, but nothing that hasn’t been done before.

I was playing the PC version, but using the 360 wired controller as I’m useless racing with a keyboard and mouse. On PC, the game looks damn good with the exception of the character models, which look average. The framerate is pretty steady; depending on the settings you put on…I tried to put everything to Ultra and noticed a huge slowdown in framerate, which shows just how out of date my once extremely powerful Behemoth of a PC now is. The soundtrack is full of your typical NFS tunes, voice-acting is pretty bad, but the sound effects redeem it.

The Verdict

Need for Speed: The Run isn’t a terrible game; it’s actually quite fun…minus the QTE’s. It’s just a shame it’s so damn short for the asking price.