After a two-year hiatus, Need for Speed is back. Ghost Games’ long-awaited reboot – which was constructed over the course of a two-year development cycle – is a slow and dull affair, which is in direct contrast to its overactive cast of characters. It is annoying because the title has many of the trappings of a great racing release, but it fails to assemble them in any meaningful manner, resulting in a foray that is so far off the pace that it may as well not be on the starting grid in the first place.
The gameplay in Need for Speed 2016 truly deserves a mention. The game brings back Drag racing, Drift trials, Gymkhana events and Deep car customization. You can almost change everything in your ride visually and performance-wise, ranging from bumpers to side skirts, spoilers to body kits, engine parts, turbo, nitrous kits, suspension parts etc. On top of that, a huge variety of Wraps and Liveries are available.
Driving styles in Need for Speed 2016 are also up for customization. Allowing the player to adjust handling, drift, grip, etc., through specific areas of the car means it’s a car with each player’s specific handprint on the wheel. Police AI works well, and it felt very typical of what could possibly happen in real life rather GTA where the cops become almost unstoppable and don’t abide by in-game physics. A lot has been done in the two-year development cycle, and credits to Ghost games for going back to the series’ roots. Near perfect gameplay is ruined by always online connection and the absence of a pause button.
When diving into single player, there is an overabundance of live action cut scenes in Need for Speed 2016. Young adults overacting and saying phrases (I’m not even sure what many of them mean). I must not be that “racing underground” hip to get it. Over acting and pitiful dialog is only outdone with what seems like an endless fist bumping train. Characters within the story account for separate paths within the campaign.
Each story path will eventually lead to a real life racing icon that was actually very interesting and brought better value to what little the single player truly had. The main campaign gets over too soon and is very dull compared to the appealing gameplay.
Graphics & Performance
The Frostbite 3 engine took advantage of the dawn-dusk time cycle to deliver some of the best graphics I’ve seen in a long time. The road reflections in Need for Speed 2016 are some of the best and with a big open-world to play, one might spend hours driving around the city of Ventura Bay. Performance-wise, the game runs very smooth on the PC version, considering the time they took to optimize the PC port. Though, the graphics are better than Forza Horizon 2 and Project Cars, the absence of daytime racing is a disappointment.
Considered as a reboot, it certainly did not feel that way. The game would have reached great heights if it had a good narrative to the story and was named Underground 3. It is far from a perfect game, but still, the engaging gameplay and stunning visuals keep you coming back for more.