Need For Speed: The Run – Review (PS3)

I hadn’t played a Need For Speed game for years as they didn’t really interest me. Then I played the demo of Hot Pursuit back in 2010 and, while I didn’t go on to get the full game, I found it to be a very enjoyable experience.

When EA announced that the follow up game would be The Run, a Cannonball Run style race across the US, I was a lot more intrigued.

Then all of a sudden we were seeing scenes where the character was out of the car and the player was taking part in Quick Time Events to progress the story. It looked completely out of whack with what you’d expect from a driving game.

However, knowing that EA had done a great job of bringing a story element to Fight Night Champion, I was willing to give it a chance.

So first off, let me say the cut scene Quick Time Events are minimal and, while not bad, don’t add anything to the game. Need For Speed: The Run is strongest when you’re behind the wheel.

The cars handle well and this is definitely the arcade style of driving. You’ll have great fun power sliding a Porsche through corners as you swerve to avoid oncoming traffic.

Unfortunately the pace of the game feels a little off. Some ‘levels’ are, literally, minutes long which wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t suffer from horrendous load times. I could accept this if it only happened the first time you get to a level. But if you fail and have to restart you’re treated to another loading screen for anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute. Annoying doesn’t cover it.

There is a good, but limited, selection of cars which all look fantastic. The Run does look really nice and some of the set pieces (racing against an avalanche for example) showcase the Frostbite engine that works so well for the Battlefield game series.

Occasionally I found that I hit a wall in terms of difficulty. Whatever I did I just couldn’t make it through one particular section. It was extremely frustrating but is something that happens across most driving games of this style at some point (Driver: San Francisco I’m looking at you). However the load times I mentioned above make it ridiculously annoying in The Run.

The story is much of a muchness and was a bit too serious for my liking. It left me wondering whether EA might’ve been better to just go the opposite direction and create a cast of deep, colourful characters to race against. If they’d taken a bit more inspiration from Cannonball Run this could’ve been a great title.

Don’t get me wrong, The Run is a fun game and you’ll have a good time playing it for the most part. The load times and odd difficulty spike do have an impact but the biggest issue I had with the game was walking away from it thinking it was one hell of a wasted opportunity to create something a little more unique.

Rating: 7/10

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Eurogamer Expo 2010

So it’s that time of year again, when the post E3 games roadshow hits London and we get to play some of the stuff that’s coming up in the remainder of the year and into 2011.

3D played a big part in Sony’s presence and I’ll discuss my thoughts on that aspect of things after we’ve been through the games.

So in no particular order, here we go:

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NEED FOR SPEED: HOT PURSUIT

I’ve quite liked the look of this one for a while as it reminds me of an updated version of the old classic Chase H.Q. Multiplayer for 8 people was on display here with you taking on the role of cop or racer (I was racer) and attempting to either finish the race (racer) or take out the racers (cop). You have weapons at your disposal in the form of road spikes or road blocks, among other things, that can help slow down the opposition and this game was fun. Not sure if it’s a purchase for me but I enjoyed giving it a spin.

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KILLZONE 3 (3D)

Thankfully my most anticipated game of the show lived up to it’s billing as I had the chance to play through two level sections of Killzone 3. The levels, which were shown at E3 back in June, were in 3D (more on that at the end of the article) which meant I wasn’t seeing the game running at it’s best but it was a blast gameplay-wise. With a slightly quicker control scheme and improved melee combat Killzone 3 looks set to improve on the brilliant 2nd installment.

* ‘KILLZONE 3’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S BEST IN SHOW – Eurogamer Expo 2010*

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BULLETSTORM

This is a slightly more tongue in cheek, combo based FPS. The level we played saw us taking on several different kinds of enemies and having the option to dispatch them in various ways using the tools at our disposal. As well as your general weapons you also have an electrified leash that be used to throw enemies towards you (in slow motion) and the sole of your boot. Yep that’s right a good old fashioned kick sends enemies into the air (again in slow motion) so you can finish them off however you like. This one could be an interesting prospect.

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DEAD SPACE 2

More of the same from the Visceral guys and to be honest I’m happy with that. They have tweaked a few bits here and there in terms of movement in the air but the shooting felt as tight as ever and the sense of claustrophobia was back. Obviously judging from the trailer there will be more open sections of gameplay but making my way through narrow corridors with things jumping out felt as freaky as ever and graphically Dead Space 2 looked great.

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MOTORSTORM: APOCALYPSE

Motorstorm is a brand that usually delivers a top notch product whether that is PS3 (Motorstorm/Motorstorm:Pacific Rift) or even PSP (Motorstorm: Arctic Edge) and Apocalypse is no different. Right from the off things are as chaotic as ever, with buildings collapsing and the public taking the streets in panic. Meanwhile you’ll be trying to boost your way to victory in what promises to be a fun ride. Multiplayer should be a blast and this is a game that has gone from being on the radar to becoming a purchase for me.

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MEDAL OF HONOR

There were a few games that going into Eurogamer had to impress me to have any chance of me picking them up. Medal Of Honor was one of them. We played the multiplayer, team deathmatch with (I think) 8 players a side. Graphics-wise this looked great, especially for multiplayer. It played well enough – essentially it’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2 but with the control scheme of Modern Warfare 2. The problem was it was a small map and turned into a bit of a frag/rocket fest which isn’t something I enjoy. Better than I thought it would be but not different enough to Battlefield to prompt me to switch. Will certainly rent this at least and give the singleplayer a go though.

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SOCOM: SPECIAL FORCES

Having only played the previous SOCOM (which was online only) a handful of times I don’t have much experience with this series. However this turned out to be one of my favourite experiences at the show. Firstly let me say this demo wasn’t without its problems – crashing on the loading screen, giving the wrong button prompt and freezing up seemed to be issues but on the presumption that those types of things will be fixed by next year’s release let’s focus on the gameplay. The shooting felt a little loose but the controls in general were well executed and played to a fairly tried and tested method for the most part. With rumoured 4 player online co-op this could be a brilliant game to play through with friends. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one for sure.

* ‘SOCOM: SPECIAL FORCES’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – Eurogamer Expo 2010 *

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CRYSIS 2

From the most pleasant surprise to the biggest disappointment on show at Eurogamer. Crysis 2 was another title I wasn’t sold on prior to the show and the demo I ‘played’ here has done nothing to change that view. The problems were insurmountable on the XBox 360 build of the game. Of the four screens where I was playing, three of them ended up dying while I was there. At least SOCOM’s problems were in the loading etc. Crysis 2 would load up and just be a black screen. You could hear your gun firing and the game would be going on but you couldn’t see anything. The guy playing in front of me had the floor disappear for a good 30 seconds or so and overall this just felt broken. Surely it would’ve been better to not show the game (or do it just for PC) than subject people to this? Everyone who played it left before the demo finished (or it died on them). Hopefully all these problems can be addressed – otherwise I won’t be picking this one up.

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 GRAN TURISMO 5

Gran Turismo looks wonderful. The trailers look great and the game matches up in that respect. It was a short play – you weren’t even given a full lap (perhaps because it was in 3D?) but it was fairly difficult to control and pretty much played as expected. For me this game will live or die on how much fun it is collecting cars or playing online. The PSP version has shown it can be a nice experience without being too harsh on the driving front and I hope the PS3 version follows suit.

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BRINK

One of the few games I needed to be convinced on that delivered – Brink is a futuristic first person shooter that allows you multiple objectives to earn xp as opposed to just blow this up/shoot everyone etc. It took me a few minutes to adjust to the game in terms of shooting because it seemed to take an age to down an opponent (perhaps to inspire people to go after the objectives rather than the enemy directly) but on the whole this was good fun. It was nice to play something not set in the modern day and the character customisation looks deep enough to keep everyone entertained. Definitely one to watch out for.

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THE SHOOT

This was my only experience with Sony’s new Move hardware and it was the only game with that support I was interested in trying. One of the problems with doing this stuff at an expo is that you often can’t calibrate the games how you’d like. So I was stuck with a gun that aimed much higher than it should. The game itself was fine – just blast everything away and I can really see titles like Time Crisis (confirmed) and House Of The Dead (rumoured) being a huge hit with Move. If the gun controller had been set up for me I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it more but as it was it was a fun little game.

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3D – GREGHORRORSHOW INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I’m not a big supporter of 3D in games (see this article) just because I feel it doesn’t bring enough to the table. It was Sony that highlighted 3D at this event with the following flagship titles available to play: Killzone 3, Motorstorm Apocalypse and Gran Turismo 5.

In my opinion Motorstorm had the best use of 3D but even that had it’s problems. The gameplay itself was fine but the cut scene intros had cars that looked like they were cardboard cut outs! It may be the same in 2D but knowing the pedigree of the previous Motorstorm games I’d presume not.

Gran Turismo 5 added a bit of depth to the car but the effect wasn’t that noticable. Perhaps I picked the wrong track for it as there wasn’t much surrounding it.

Killzone 3 was a weird one, a couple of times the 3D did look really good but generally it just added a bit of depth to everything.

And that seems to be the issue – with 3D cinema things fly out of the screen at you. With these games that doesn’t happen, bullets, dirt or whatever comes at you but ends where the screen ends.

I expect in 4/5 years we’ll see some really great implentation of 3D in games but until then I’ll be steering well clear.

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Overall then a great show with a chance to play some brilliant upcoming games. I would’ve liked to have seen Infamous 2, Rage and Homefront but I think other that those titles everything else was covered. Roll on next year!

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