Jason DeLong, an executive producer at Black Box Studios in Vancouver, took to the stage during the EA press conference to show off Need for Speed: The Run. In The Run, DeLong explained, you take part in an illicit race from San Francisco to New York, and there's a "relentless force willing to use any lethal means to take you down." He spoke about how the game will incorporate the Autolog networking system that was used to foster competition between friends in last year's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. The Run will similarly use the Autolog system to give you a comparison between your performance and your friends' performances in each leg of the race. DeLong also mentioned that in The Run, you'll spend some time on foot, a first for the Need for Speed series.
He then picked up a controller and started the live demo, which took place in Chicago. A pre-race screen mentioned that this left 840 miles to go before reaching the final destination of New York and that the mob was closing in. The game then threw him into a sports car hurtling down slick, rainy Chicago streets at high speed. The city featured distinctive Chicago details in the form of some elevated train platforms with trains speeding overhead. The player soon found himself in the middle of a pack of racers, and these adversaries were aggressive, at one point knocking him off the road. He quickly got back on track and in pursuit of his rivals, but just as it seemed like he might catch up to them, a compact black vehicle came speeding down a cross street and violently sideswiped his car.
Here the camera switched position and followed the driver as he got out of the car and sped away on foot, pursued by the thugs who had just crashed into him. As the character hurried to a door and up some stairs, constantly shifting camera angles suggested that this action was happening automatically and was not being directly controlled by the player. The driver emerged on the roof of the building and hurried toward the edge. A prompt required the player to push a button, at which point the driver leapt from the rooftop, apparently losing his pursuers, but finding himself with a brand-new problem: a chopper making liberal use of its machine guns in an attempt to put a stop to his escape.
The driver ran along a walkway with the chopper's trail of bullets nipping at his heels until he reached the edge and again made a jump for it, again with a prompt for input from the player. After plummeting 20 feet or so, he somehow got up and continued running, with the chopper relentlessly pursuing him.
After another jump, he found himself sliding down a sloped roof. When the roof ran out, a shoulder button prompt appeared, which the player responded to in order to catch onto a fire escape before lowering himself to the ground and hiding behind a Dumpster. At just that moment, a police car pulled in to the alleyway, and the player character charged the emerging driver. The cop took the player character in a choke hold, and a prompt to mash a button appeared onscreen. Successfully doing so resulted in the player character elbowing the cop in the face and throwing him to the ground before speeding off in his police car.
A new objective, Get Out of the City, appeared as the player took control of his new ride, which was apparently bulletproof, since the gunfire from the pursuing chopper tore through cement pillars and sent other cars flipping out of control but had no visible effect on the police car. The player experienced a few seconds of relative peace as he sped through a train yard, but when he emerged, a cutscene took over that depicted the chopper shooting a fuel tanker just ahead of his car. The explosion sent the car careening off the road and flipping over. The screen went black.
The next thing we saw was the driver, trapped in his upside-down car. After a brief struggle, he righted himself as the sound of an approaching train revealed that the car had landed right on the tracks. Responding to button prompts, the player frantically kicked out the driver's side window and squeezed out just as the train struck what was left of his car, bringing the demo to a dramatic end.
We're intrigued by the combination of intense arcade driving action and scripted sequences and look forward to learning more about the story behind The Run and just what's at stake in this deadly cross-country race. Be sure to check out our live show on Wednesday for more on Need for Speed: The Run.