Need For Speed World
Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
Developers are constantly looking at ways to both create new products and make money. The latest trend is the free-to-play model, which takes the carrot-on-a-stick method of giving gamers a free game, but keeps the good content out of reach unless users make purchases to continue the experience. Normally, it’s a win-win for both sides. If the gamer enjoys the game, they will invest the time and money to prolong the experience and tell their friends. If they don’t, the only thing they’ve lost is time. For the developer, if the game is a success, it could lead to bigger and better things; if it’s a failure, they can reorganize and try something different. Electronic Arts doesn’t have much of a history with the free-to-play route, yet they have still released Need For Speed World to the masses. Thankfully, it doesn’t cost anything to play, because the carrot on this stick is just not close enough to entice one to chase after it.
Need For Speed World brings fans of the series back to its Carbon/Underground era of open-world racing. You begin with a small but decent car and have the ability to participate in four different modes. The first is regular exploration, which is nothing more than driving through the game’s city. The two actual race types are Sprint and Circuit, while the final mode, Pursuit, gives you the ability to be chased by the police and hopefully cause some havoc along the way. For fans of the series, the modes are nothing new and won’t require any sort of training. Only problem is that the modes and available races don’t offer much variety, especially early on.
NFSW plays out like an MMORPG; you start off with access to a few races with any additional courses opening up as your driver increases in level. You improve your level based on the Reputation points you earn in races and in Pursuit mode; the better you do, the more Rep you earn. Leveling also provides access to improve your driving skills in three categories: Race, Pursuit and Explore. These skills add things like starting races with a boost of nitro and spotting cops from further away, among other abilities.
The level system is a nice touch and the driver skill aspect is welcomed; however, additional races unlock at an exorbitantly slow pace. Each level increase typically only unlocks one or two new races, causing a lot of repetition early on. In the first handful of levels, you only get access to about a dozen races. For some this might not be too bad, but when placing in the top 3 only earns a couple hundred points of Rep, you will have to repeat the same races time and time again to level-up.
The only positive side to the small number of races is that all of them can be played in one of three ways. In addition to racing against the AI in single player, one can invite other racers in private matches, or race against other random racers in multiplayer. The single player races offer a good mix of challenge, as the computer drivers are typically leveled roughly around your own. However, multiplayer is a different story in that you can be placed against racers of any level, as long as they are able to race in that particular course. Because of this, some racers will definitely have the leg up before race even begins. In other words, any sort of equal skill matchmaking doesn’t exist.
Another problem with the multiplayer is that it can be quite difficult to get a race with a full grid. Most races only had a half grid at best, and even with so few participants, I still encountered a fair amount of lag. Because of that, more time may be spent doing the single player races instead of socializing with other drivers, as would be the goal with an MMO environment. This problem is even greater when you see that most people are racing low-level races (even at higher levels) instead of the higher level ones. When looking for racers to race against in level 5 or higher, it often took over 30 seconds to find a match and those races were mostly just against one or two other competitors.
Multiplayer races are actually really important and are the speedier way of grinding levels. Races with human players earns more Rep than races with AI, but the number of racers also factors into the total Rep gained. Winning a race with only three other cars will earn a fraction of the Rep that would have been received had there been seven other cars jockeying for position. NFSW has a very large world to race and explore, but because of the lack of players and so much of the environment locked until specific milestone levels are reached, there is little incentive to grind. The sad part is that other than a few minor pop-up issues with NPCs (non-player cars), there is a lot of available racing to be had. On top of the familiar racing types, the city itself has a lot of throw-backs to past NFS games.
With regards to Need for Speed World’s free-to-play model, one may not notice any major snags until level 10. For those who decide to simply race for fun, once this point in the career is reached, you’re stuck there. For those who decide to pick-up the Starter Pack, they will gain ability to go past level 10 and obtain some other minor bells and whistles. However, for the right to earn extra content, players will have to start dropping additional cash into what the game calls Boost. The Boosts give certain add-ons, such as additional bonuses to cash or Rep, certain power-ups for races, and even the ability to rent more powerful cars. Those who want to and have the plans on sticking with the game may see some incentive to use these, but for the most part, only die-hard fans will find them to be worth the money.
In the end, even with the free-to-play model that Need For Speed World offers, its hard to recommend this game even to hardcore NFS fans. The amount of time needed to get to the really fun and challenging races will take too long for most gamers. Considering it doesn’t cost anything to try this out, some may wish to download it and give the game a shot. However, even though you may find something interest in the beginning, once it is revealed what will be required before reaching the juicy bits, you will already be on to something else.
+ Pursuit mode is fun
+ Level system does have some cool, RPG-like aspects to it
+ Lots of references to past NFS games
- Too much level grinding
- Some noticeable pop-ups
- Weird lag issues with multiplayer races
- Races unlock too slowly
- Poor interaction with other racers
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Release Date : 2010/07/20
System : PC
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : EA Black Box
Category : Racing
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
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