Preview: Need for Speed: Rivals
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Preview: Need for Speed: Rivals

We sat down with Ghost Games’ Craig Sullivan, Creative Director of Need for Speed: Rivals at E3 to get some hands-on time with their upcoming next-gen racer.

Sullivan – actually on secondment from Burnout and Need for Speed: Most Wanted developer Criterion Games – wasn’t shy on mentioning that between 60-65 Criterion staff are working on Rivals, mostly because Ghost Games is such a young and fledgling studio. In time, the reigns will pass from teacher to student, he said, but for Rivals especially, expect the same types of hijinks you know and love from the very-established Criterion folk.

The games journalists in the room were split into two groups to tear it up or take hoons down. Rather than play in a traditional single-player or multiplayer world, we were dropped into the game’s “All Drive” system, which Sullivan said blurs those experiences together. If you’re on your own, the game will ensure you’ve enough AI cops and robbers around to enjoy the experience. If you’re playing at a peak time, you’ll mostly likely be pitted against fellow gamers. Regardless, experiences in either scenario should feel the same, Sullivan insisted.

Sullivan prefers the new core of the game, as you won’t have to wait to enter a multiplayer mode form single-player. Pressing a “multiplayer button” and then having to wait 30 seconds to begin a race is very current-gen, Sullivan said, and something Ghost Games wanted to avoid. Even on Xbox 360 and PS3.

As I cop, I sped around the world, trying to catch bad guys, but also trying to drive with style to place first amongst my group of fellow law enforcers. As you’d expect, Autolog is back, and in full force, tracking all of the good (and not-so-good) stuff you can pull off. With each drift, close call, placement in a race and (of course) takedown, I slowly inched my way up the good guy leaderboard.

All cars come equipped with the usual goodies, like nitrous and an EMP launcher. The vehicles drive much like they did in Most Wanted, but if you wanted further analysis of real-world physics, sadly, I’m not a car dude. The vehicles responded as I thought they would and felt they should, so consider that a positive if you enjoyed Criterion’s last game.

I enjoyed my time as a cop, but if not, Sullivan said gamers will be able to jump between the cop and racer careers at any time they wish.

You’ll be able to give Need for Speed: Rivals a test drive when it’s released on 19 November on Xbox 360, PC and PS3, and at the launches of Xbox 360 and PS4.

Steve Wright

Steve Wright

Steve's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, freelance journalist, owner of this very site, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally.