Need For Speed: The Run review

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Say what you like about Michael Bay, but the trailer he directed warmed us considerably to this game. Early details of a narrative told by quick-time events had us expecting a series downturn after Hot Pursuit’s success. Then the Bay trailer hit, and we were excited. The out-of-car action looked intense and relevant, the racing more Hollywood blockbuster than ever. Would this be the greatest NFS yet?

The answer? It isn’t. And it doesn’t take long to figure this out, either. That said, the opening 15 minutes do deliver the focus and innovation teased in the trailer – thanks to a QTE sequence that’s actually quite exciting and some top-notch voice acting from Never Back Down’s Sean Faris and Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame. The driving takes over from the cinematics seamlessly, and as you scream through Frisco’s 90º turns, cop cars and Mafia vans in tow, it feels alive with potential. As it turns out, this level of quality and dynamism isn’t matched again.

The titular ‘run’ is an illegal street race that stretches from San Francisco to New York, with a preposterously large $25 million prize. You need this so you can pay a sexy lawyer friend to get the Mob off your back – and it makes for a better game than buying a handful of lottery tickets. Just about.

As you travel through anonymous farmland and snow-capped mountain highways that are, for some reason, under heavy mortar fire, you partake in four or five races in each location. It doesn’t take too many miles before you realise that the variety of objectives stretches to ‘gain x positions’, ‘make up time’ or ‘beat x rivals’ – all achieved by driving corner-bereft stretches of multi-lane highway at improbable speeds – and no further.

Enjoyable moments do punch their way through the monotony, often aided by some inspired background music choices and fresh surroundings, but it feels like the premise could be super-imposed on top of Hot Pursuit to largely similar effect. EA was never going to release a 3,000-mile marathon racer, but there’s promise to the game’s basis that’s left untapped – and the two hours that make up the main mode offer a weak bang-to-buck ratio. Yes, two hours.

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