I love arcade-style racing games. Pick up and play, zoom around, and generally drive like a maniac without the speeding tickets or wrapping yourself around a tree. On top of that, I like things that are either free or cheap (if free is good then cheap is usually better).
I just got done playing in the open beta for EA’s Need For Speed World. It runs well on my computer, can be played with a USB control pad (I’m using a wired Xbox 360 pad), looks good, feels good and is just plain fun. What more can you ask for?
You pick a car to start off with and go from there. You can drive around the city looking for racing events, drive around exploring or start causing trouble with the cops. When you go racing in events, you can choose to do an open multiplayer with other people, start a private race just between you and friends or go single-player against 7 computer controlled cars. Some events are a sprint from point A to point B, others are doing laps.
What’s an interesting twist, and honestly makes the game more arcade-y, is that there are powers-ups you can use; things like Nitrous for a speed boost, a shield so things bumping into you don’t slow you down so much, making the lead car a “traffic magnet,” etc. Its not as abusive as, say, Mario Kart – there are no turtle shells to look out for – but its something that can give you an edge up (or let someone get by you).
The cop chases (Pursuit mode) are fun. Hit a cop car or stir up trouble and you’ll start getting chased by the fuzz. Keep it up long enough or cause enough problems in the meantime and you’ll start escalating from local cops to city cops to state cops. I’m not sure how far up it goes, but with the state level cops you’re being pursued by fast cop cars and get to deal with roadblocks and spike strips. It can be a real rush, especially if you give them the slip!
The cash shop wasn’t available in beta, but usually those things have convenience items – things to make the game easier, or trading money for time playing (ie, you don’t have to play and play and play to earn it in-game). Nothing game-breaking, and if you’re a lousy racer then spending a ton of cash isn’t going to help you any how.
I’m not sure when the game officially launches, but I’m really looking forward to it. If you see Chikahiro, that’ll be me :)