Woah, looking back on the Need for Speed franchise and saying they’ve published a fair few games would be an understatement. We recently reviewed NFS: The Run late last year, so we thought it might be a great time to check out the 15th instalment in the Need for Speed series from 2010, called ‘World’.
Unlike the other NFS games, ‘World’ is actually an MMO set in the gameplay style of Most Wanted and Carbon, and is a shift (no pun intended) away from the recent simulation games like NFS: Shift 2. As MMOs are a large undertaking, we figure now is about the time when things are beginning to settle and a true understanding of the game world can be developed.
NFS: World utilizes the ‘freemium’ payment method, in which you can play for free, however you can buy in-game items to either advance quicker or to gain certain cars/items which free users can’t use. As with most MMO’s ‘World’ is also exclusive to Windows at the moment.
If you’re familiar with the NFS series, you’ll be familiar with the settings of Rockport City and Palmont City which are used in the map layout, borrowed from ‘Most Wanted’ and ‘Carbon’. You’ll also be familiar with the customization options that are available for both visual and performance parts.
Getting started with NFS World is as simple as setting up an EA Origin account if you don’t have one already and logging in at NFS WORLD (http://world.needforspeed.com/) and downloading the launcher setup. Once you’ve installed that the content of the game which is about 1-1.5GB will start downloading.
Entering the game world, you’ll notice the graphics aren’t stunning but you won’t complain either. ‘World’ will easily run on any modern low to medium range PC and has the visual detail of previous titles like NFS: Carbon and ProStreet.
Following in the footsteps of other MMO’s, EA has introduced a progression system which utilizies in-game money, experience, unlock points and ‘SpeedBoost’ credits. Experience raises your driver level which in turn unlocks more cars and parts and also power ups. The in-game cash is obviously used for repairs and new parts. Unlock points are given awarded when you level up and can be redeemed for certain in-game perks (e.g 10% Performance increase when lower than 3rd place in a race). SpeedBoost credits can be bought using real world money and these credits can then be used to purchase packs of in game material.
Racing can be done against others or you can choose a single player mode against computer controlled opponents. There are a few race types, with the traditional sprint or circuit being the most common but there are also modes such as Team Escape where you and 3 racers must evade the police for a set amount of time. Finishing in the top 3 of a race grants you a reward card, with the item being of greatest value if you finish 1st. At the end of a race, 5 cards are displayed and behind each is a secret object. You choose one of the 5 cards and are awarded whatever it turns out to be. These cards range from extra cash or experience to engine upgrades and the like.
Matchmaking is quick and the racing is as enjoyable as previous NFS titles. However, I found the controls a bit dumbed down and cornering to be too easy for someone that is an NFS veteran. There is the standard accelerate/brake, left/right, brake and handbrake controls along with power-ups such as Nitrous and in game ‘weapons’ such as Traffic Magnets which will make traffic head towards an opponent etc.
There’s just over 100 cars in game which can be bought, sold and customized. These cars are divided into 3 ‘tiers’, with Tier 1 cars being the most common/slowest, with cards like Nissan Silvia’s and Mazda RX-8 and Tier 3 having Lamborghini Gallardo’s, Audi R8’s and the like. Some cars you can buy outright and some you can rent for a certain time, and some require SpeedBoost credits. Regardless of this, there’s plenty of choice for a free player to make it far in the game.
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Described as an open world MMO, I found it to definitely be open world, however this was also the weakest part of the game. Of course you can drive around to races and explore the map, but essentially it turned out to be one very large lobby. In most cases you end up clicking ‘Race Now’ to search for the race which starts ASAP that you can enter.
I’d really enjoy if you could physically collide in free roam and not just in the races, as I often found myself racing against others in free roam and that damage ability would make it just that little bit more interesting.
In conclusion, NFS: World offers a nice method of competing with others around the world and the game play mechanics work as they should. It’s almost a throwback to the days of NFS Underground and Carbon, and the street racing vibe is definitely present. However, I feel EA missed out on the opportunity for a great game by dumbing down the controls, and I found the free roam aspect of NFS World to be a downfall as the game world is essentially just a very large multiplayer lobby to enter races. I can definitely see a team or clan aspect working well in the game if it’s done in the future. Racing alongside your friends against others would be something very interesting to take part in!
Think of it as the previous Need for Speed games without the single player campaign and add some roads that you can drive around on while waiting for a race to be ready.
Need for Speed: World gets a 3 out of 5 from me. I’ll definitely keep playing it a bit more and I hope EA releases some updates for this in the near future. I don’t see this MMO lasting too long unless EA put’s some hard work into it and transforms it into a real MMO.