EA has brought the Need For Speed franchise back once again, this time with Need for Speed The Run, a game that for the first time involves you getting out of the car. Wait, what? That’s right there are elements you control that aren’t behind a wheel, but is that one step to far, and how will the franchise fair against the likes of Forza 4, Driver San Francisco, and the plethora of other driving and racing games already on the market? We jumped on a one level demo of the game at this year’s E3 in Los Angeles to find out. 


Need for Speed The Run

What platform is it on?

3DS, PC, PS3, Wii, X360

When's it due out?

18 November 2011

What other game is it like?

Outrun, Burnout Paradise, previous Need For Speed games

Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move, or Kinect for Xbox 360?


The pitch

Get ready to rip up the road! Adrenaline junkies and speed fiends will find themselves on the wrong side of the law this November when they race for their lives in Need for Speed The Run from Electronic Arts. The hottest blockbuster this holiday is a game that takes players on a heart-pounding cross-country race from San Francisco to New York. Powered by DICE’s state-of-the-art Frostbite 2 engine, Need for Speed The Run takes the action racing genre to new heights with stunning visuals and car physics that hug the road even at top speeds all built around a gripping storyline. The cars are hot, the racing is intense and the story will have you at the edge of your seat… all the way from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Empire State building. 

The storyline

You’re on the run and have to get from San Francisco to New York dodging the police and the mafia along the way to earn your freedom.

Trailers, demoes, and video

Our first impressions

For our E3 quick play we played a level mid way through the game set in Chicago. On the run from the mob, our character had just stolen a police car and had a set time to get out of the city avoiding on coming traffic, oh, and a helicopter with the mafia in it trying to shoot us off the road.

Mixing cutscenes and live action in seamlessly, the game constantly delivers extravagant over the top cutaways that give you a sense of being in a movie rather than just being stuck in the cockpit.

It’s an experience that worked well in our brief play, although was slightly disjointing the first time it happened as you aren’t sure who (i.e., you or the console) is controlling what.

“The police car is very heavy to drive,” warned our demo dude on the EA booth, and having thrown said police car into the wall on our first corner he is right.

Need For Speed The Run has, as you might expect, a variety of cars at your disposal and each have their own characteristics.

We weren't able to test any other cars, however take our word for it when we say the police car is sluggish, very sluggish. Hopefully this won’t be the case for all the other vehicles in the game, and before you ask there are no bikes.

Graphics will depend on the console you play it on, we played it on the PS3, and it looked great.

EA has used its new Frostbite 2 engine for the game also used in Battlefield 3, and that gives better destruction and damage options in the game. That said, EA have included the usual tale tail signs that it's an NFS game and those that have enjoyed the franchise in the past (excluding Need For Speed Shift) will enjoy Need For Speed The Run.

Being seasoned pros (we wish) we crossed the finish line with time to spare although ended up flipping the car thanks to an exploding oil tanker - it’s meant to happen. The end result is that we are trapped in the police car upside down on a train track with a train hurtling towards us at high speed.

It’s here that we get to experience the out of the car element of the game.

Spun to feel like Heavy Rain, you have a series of choices to make, which ask you to make a series of button presses. In our case finding which window to smash that will allow us to climb out of the car to safety.

Our demo dude tells us that this element of the game accounts for under 10 per cent and that it is there to break up the cutscenes and get you involved. It works, it’s a little of extra engagement, but we can see this being a nice distraction to the fast paced racing action in the rest of the game.

Our time was brief, but Need for Speed The Run looks to be EA returning back to the fun elements of the series with the consistent push of getting across America being the driving force here (sorry we couldn’t resist) that should save you from getting lost and bored in a single city.

Please note

The E3 games convention is a fantastic chance to see the latest games due out over the coming year, as well as, letting us get a glimpse into what is going to be the big titles and the ones to avoid like the plague.

The big problem however is that for most of the titles that glimpse is, well, just that. At the show you'll get to play a level here or a multiplayer map there or even have a product manager walk you through a specific level.

So with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.

What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review or even a review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming on just 15 minutes of play? However it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion, of what to expect come launch day.