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November 15, 2011



- Frostbite 2 game engine provides plenty of destructible road hazards for an extra layer of driving mayhem
- Although the actual goals in The Run races get repetitive, a lot of events are highly intense racing adventures, including the avalanche in the Rockies and the train tunnel in the home stretch heading into New York City



- Single-player The Run mode is more like a full-on sprint, as the San Fran-to-NYC race can be completed in around three hours
- Large selection of exotics and muscle cars, but not very much of a noticeable difference in how cars handle when they race



Review: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (360)

Review: Need for Speed: Carbon (360)

Review: Split/Second (360)

Review: Mario Kart 7 (3DS)



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Need for Speed: The Run

Score: 8.0 / 10


need for speed the run           need for speed the run


There are plenty of dumb things someone can do to put them at serious risk of extreme bodily harm. Right near the top, just after wrestling alligators blindfolded, is incurring a large debt with the mafia and not having any actual way of paying that liability. That tends to get those mob guys cranky and trigger-happy.

Yet that’s just the situation that Jack Rourke, who’s never met a fast car he didn’t want to drive even faster, finds himself thrust into in the newest Need for Speed entry– number 18 in the long-running franchise The Run, on the Xbox 360. Luckily, he falls into a fortuitous situation that not only can wipe out that debt but put a few




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million in his pocket as well. A childhood friend, the hottie redhead Sam Harper, offers to pay his $250,000 entry fee for a spot in the San Francisco-to-New York City underground – a very illegal car race. If he wins, she gets Rourke’s mob “situation” absolved and he gets 10% of the winner-take-all $25 million prize. She keeps the rest. A win for Jack, a win for Sam and a win for the


mob. Everybody gets paid and happy. But there’s the little task at hand of actually triumphing in the 2,700-mile race against 200 other wannabe winners, while avoiding cops, the still-angry mob chasing him (and shooting at him with malicious intent from cars and helicopters) and some rather treacherous driving conditions.

Throughout The Run single-player mode, the plot is pretty standard fare, and in fact is really not very deeply developed. Gamers will have very little cut-scene viewing (along with some static info screens that give scant information about the rival racer that gamers are facing in that particular point of the story). Even considering that the racing is the main focus and not the storyline, The Run is rather skimpy on story, being more of a full-on sprint than a run, as the San Fran-to-NYC race can be completed in around three hours.

But there are other modes to increase the replayability of Need for Speed: The Run, including the Challenge mode, where gamers will revisit past areas raced and look to complete challenges to unlock medals and of course online racing. Neither mode, however, can match the asphalt-burning intensity of the single-player The Run races.


need for speed the run          need for speed the run


Although the actual goals in The Run races get repetitive (overtake a certain number of cars, beat rivals, make up time), a lot of events are extreme-high-speed, adrenaline-pumping racing adventures, including the avalanche in the Rockies and the train tunnel in the home stretch heading into New York City. There are even a few on-foot chases evading mobsters and police just to keep the stress level elevated.

Visually, the game has a familiarity, sharing an unexpected graphical lineage: the Frostbite 2 game engine that belongs to EA’s biggest-selling game today, Battlefield 3. A first-person shooter graphical engine isn’t exactly what one might expect under the hood of a high-octane racing game, but the strength of Frostbite 2 is having overwhelming environmental destruction possible, and there is destruction-by-auto all over the landscape in various forms gamers will be driving in Need for Speed: The Run (stationary items such as trees, road signs and cargo containers to moving traffic and trains). The environments aren’t the stars of the graphical show, however.

That celebrity status is reserved for the amazing array of real-world cars available to race, particularly the beautiful exotics worth six figures that most gamers can only dream of sitting behind the wheel of. Here, however, the keys to exotic racing nirvana are handed over without reservation, so those dreams can become a reality while driving road beasts from legendary car creators like Lamborghini.

Controlling the cars is overall not difficult, but gamers better have their drifting skills down, because that is used extensively on many of Need for Speed: The Run’s courses. Curiously, while gamers will obviously notice a difference in the speed qualities of the variety of cars, there really isn’t much difference in how cars handle.

Although the single-player adventure runs out of fuel way too soon, the intensity of the racing while driving beautifully rendered “dream” autos makes up for the brevity, and a few replayable modes (Challenge and online) greatly increases Need for Speed: The Run’s gameplay driving distance.

– Lee Cieniawa

(January 18, 2012)


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