The latest Need for Speed iteration combines the illicit street racing of the past two versions with the cop-chasing gameplay that made the original NFS games so popular.
The result is an engaging racing adventure where you must build your rap sheet to advance up the ladder of street-racing heroes. The demo frustrates with a lack of game information, but the generous amount of content, impressive graphics, and both single-player and multiplayer modes combine to justify a top rating.
After the obligatory but appreciated "Don't try this at home" disclaimer from model and in-game hottie Josie Maran, you'll have the opportunity to try three Quick Races or three Challenges in single-player action, or connect to the EA servers for races against other online humans. The Quick Races include two Sprints, which are straight-up races against computer opponents, and one Speedtrap, where your object is to get the highest speed possible without getting caught. The Challenges are: Pursuit Length, where you must avoid cops in hot pursuit; Toolbooth Time Trial, where you must travel between two way points in a specified time; and Roadblock, where you must avoid six police installations. Two versions of the Mustang and Porsche are available for racing. The online gameplay requires a free EA account, but be sure to read the privacy statement and terms of service before signing up.
The graphics are remarkably improved from the last version, and Adbusters will be happy to note the gratutitous product placement that plagued NFS Underground 2 is happily missing. The demo offers a great introduction to the basic gameplay, and also provides several hours of entertainment.
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