E3 2011: Need For Speed: The Run Hands-On Preview

By Lauren Alessandra on June 20, 2011, 10:04AM EDT

The basic equation for most racing games is fast cars, limited storyline, leaderboards, and, of course, racing. There's an acceleration button, a brake button, and maybe a few other interesting controls along the way. Need For Speed has always been an arcade racer with an edge of simulation, but with Need for Speed: The Run, the eighteenth game of the series, developer Black Box has decided to take the racing genre into a different direction. By adding a much deeper story with tons of quick time events, Black Box has pushed Need For Speed series into an interesting mix; an action-racing game.

In short, the story follows a man name Jack whose dealings with the mafia place him into hot water with police forces everywhere. He's forced into the race of his life travelling from San Francisco to New York City; a trip that takes nearly three days to complete for average travellers. Black Box promises realistic representations of the cities Jack visits along the way including Las Vegas, Denver, and Detroit. Jack will be the first named protagonist of the series, but that's not all that has changed.

As mentioned before, there are a ton of quick time events within Need for Speed: The Run. This one particular scene from the demo showed Jack trapped in a car that has flipped upside down. The player needs to get Jack out of the car by unbuckling his seat belt and finding which window he will need to kick out in order to get out alive. These added scenes might be what make or break Need For Speed: The Run as it's so unlike any other racing game experience. Players who enjoy simply driving down the road while passing fellow players might find that the quick time events and the story itself take away from the actual racing.

This leads into another development in Need For Speed: The Run, the ability to leave a car. Much like a Grand Theft Auto character would, Jack needs to leave his vehicle in order to progress the story. As featured in the demo, Jack is caught by the police and is actually removed from his car. He then breaks free from the cops and ends up stealing a cop car. It's also important to note that how long it takes a player to complete the quick time events is also factored into the player's time for the "race". So if you're hoping to beat your friend's score, you will also need to boost up your quick time event skills.

With that being said, the autolog feature will return. This will let you know how far your friends have progressed through the game along with their logged times. There will also still be leaderboards, however, there are still some reservations about how the usual time logs will work with the quick time events in Need For Speed: The Run.

If graphics are your thing, you will be happy to hear that Black Box has taken on the Frostbite 2.0 engine. This enhances the environments making Need For Speed: The Run and truly stunning racing game. It's very apparent in the cinematic scenes, with heavy focus on the action. This will also mark the first non-shooter title to use this specific engine.

Fans of the classic racing games might feel a bit disappointed after playing Need for Speed: The Run as its more cinematic style takes away from the basic racing game equation. But whose to say that in the end this might end up being a good direction for racing games to go?

If you are daring, pick up Need For Speed: The Run November 15 for either the PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii or 3DS consoles.

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