Need For Speed's E3 2015 Reboot Does Not Disappoint

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The last few Need For Speeds have done a commendable job catering to different driving preferences, but this latest installment just might be the most accessible version yet. The franchise has been around long enough that it has different fanbases from different eras, whether it's the period when the cars tended to grip the pavement and the era when there was more of an emphasis on drifting. Customization and tuning is commonplace in all kinds of racing games, and while the next Need For Speed offers a wealth of options to personalize your handing, having a Grip vs Drift slider makes the experience very pick up-and-play.

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Given that arcade racing is my favorite genre, I'm often confident that I can place well (if not first) in my multiplayer racing booth demos at E3 year after year. Need For Speed threw me for a loop, given that its design is not as straightforward as point to point races. In a form of thoughtful rebranding Need For Speed's multiplayer score attack is called 8-Player Rep Attack. It keys in on the kind of skill-based driving that has been very popular these many years. It's not surprising for Need For Speed developer Ghost Games, which is primarily made up of former talent from Criterion Games, a studio known for the risk-taking driving from the Burnout series. From slick drifting to near miss car passes, you'll earn points toward your rep when you're competing with seven others at Rep Attack.

My match started with a point-to-point race, and while I placed first, I didn't earn the most rep points, probably because I did not drift enough and stayed far from incoming traffic. That wasn't the end of the competitive session, though. With the match over, every driver was left with several minutes to accumulate rep points however they saw fit. Some opted to lure cops into a chase, others just free roamed. Within my seven minute time limit, I managed to do all these things and ended up with a very respectable third place ranking.

In all, I enjoyed how the controls and my preferred grip setting felt. More importantly, the hands-on experience managed to emulate the intensity and visual realism of the flashy E3 2015 trailer. The isolated feeling from touring the dark streets of Ventura Bay (a fictional version of Los Angeles) were punctuated by the light-bleeds from the street lights and headlights. Need For Speed's attention to detail is never more apparent than in the garages. Rather than present them in their most pristine state, the cars in your collection have a "just driven" look, as if you had each of your cars out in the wet weather sometime in the last couple hours.

Need For Speed comes out on November 3, 2015.

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