Need for Speed: The Run Hands-On Preview

We race through the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and find out more about our protagonist Jack.

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During this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, EA took the chance to show off its upcoming racer, Need for Speed: The Run, which marks the first time in the series that players will be required to spend time on foot.

The game will see players taking part in an illicit race from San Francisco to New York, incorporating the Autolog networking system that was used to foster competition between friends in last year's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. During the E3 demo, EA revealed a chunk of the game that saw the protagonist, Jack, leave his car and run through a portion of the city while running away from a pack of bad guys. Button prompts saw Jack performing a series of platforming stunts before finding a new car and speeding away again.

This time around, we had the chance to get some hands-on time with one of the sprint-racing time trials in Need for Speed: The Run.

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Our demo took place in the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where Jack needed to defeat 10 other racers to arrive at the destination first. The environment looked crisp and detailed, and there were plenty of shortcuts to be found along the way, alongside plenty of oncoming traffic. The controls are quite sensitive, with just a slight tap on either side of the thumbstick sufficing for correcting steering. We found that getting the balance of acceleration and drifting didn't come easily, and it took a few turns to correctly identify when and how much to slow down when taking corners and the right time to speed up again in order not to lose too much momentum.

The course included regular checkpoints, something that works alongside the game's new rewind feature. The latter becomes available only when you crash; so, rather than going back all the way to the start of the race, you're simply taken back to the last checkpoint and allowed to reattempt the part you failed. This is a particularly handy feature when completing a new track because it lets you learn from your mistakes without being too punishing. It also has the added advantage of giving players time to explore the track to discover shortcuts without losing too much time.

While the rewind feature takes you back in time, EA says the number of times you can use it is limited throughout the campaign, changing depending on the track and difficulty setting.

During the demo EA also emphasised that while the game's reveal focused on Jack's on-foot adventures, players shouldn't expect to see too much of this aspect, as racing will still be the main component of Need for Speed: The Run. The publisher also hinted that Jack will have to survive certain environmental challenges, and while we recently saw the avalanche scenario during Gamescom, they're remaining tight-lipped on others.

The demo certainly held our interest, and we're excited to see more of Need for Speed: The Run's racing and on-foot elements in the months to come.

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