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Need For Speed Rivals Was A Much-Needed Disaster

After releasing two of the best Need For Speed Games ever made (Hot Pursuit, Most Wanted), Rivals smeared a mess all over the wall of shame. The much-anticipated racer from Ghost Games proved to be a dud upon release, with many of the game's features needing to be fixed. Players were also annoyed by the lack of dedicated servers, which caused frequent host migration and numerous bugs and glitches. The game was criticized for its lack of content and customization options and the many technical issues that plagued it. Need For Speed took its good fortunes for granted, just like an overconfident Super Bowl-winning NFL team. As the twelfth release in the Need For Speed series, NFS fans expected better.

Ten years and five games later, Need For Speed has learned from its poor past choices. While Rivals was not a great game, did it end up being great for the Need For Speed franchise? Did the development team and EA take notice, allowing them to create some pretty cool racing games again (Need For Speed Heat)? From what I can see, it was a beautiful disaster. Let's look at Need For Speed Rivals, what it did well, and where it failed.

VIDEO: Need For Speed Rivals Cops VS Racers Trailer

Need For Speed Rivals Was A Good Idea With Poor Execution

It may have been a timing thing that plagued Need For Speed Rivals. The Xbox One and PS4 were released in the same year, causing possible technical issues with the servers, graphics, and overall coding difference of the new high-end consoles. That was one of many problems. Need For Speed Most Wanted had poor sales -- even though it was an awesome game -- and that may have led to less priority and investment from Electronic Arts. Nevertheless, Need For Speed Rivals was a good idea that could have turned out better.

The racing gameplay was the only thing that rivals did well. It borrowed from Criterion's previous games, Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, and improved upon them. The map was large, open, and filled with things to do. There were side missions like finding collectibles or taking down speed cameras. You could also race your friends online in multiplayer mode or play the single-player campaign against AI racers. The racing itself felt tight and precise -- a joy to play overall. But even the racing gameplay couldn't save Need For Speed Rivals from poor reviews and a lack of player interest. The general lack of innovation, inadequate customization, and technical issues (especially online play) all dragged NFS Rivals down in the worst ways.

In the end, Need For Speed Rivals was a good idea that didn't pan out. The racing gameplay was solid, but everything else needed to be completed or thought through properly. That being said, it is still worth playing if you're a racing game fan and can overlook NFS Rivals' many flaws.

About Need For Speed Rivals

Need for Speed Rivals is a racing video game set in an open-world environment. Developed by Swedish company Ghost Games and published by Electronic Arts, it was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in November 2013. An updated game version was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms in November 2014. The Wii U port of the game was developed by EA Tiburon and released in October 2014. The game is set in the fictional county of Redview County, which is based in Colorado and California. The open-world environment features a day-night cycle and dynamic weather system that affects the gameplay. Players take on the role of either street racers or police officers, with each side having its own set of missions to complete. Racers must evade the police while achieving racing objectives, while cops must apprehend speedsters while meeting law enforcement objectives.


As a vigilante under the name F-8 (or Fate), the player takes an impounded Ferrari Enzo out onto the streets, where they wreak havoc by wrecking street racers while pretending to be a fellow racer. This turns to them receiving an invitation to join the FBI Vehicle Response Team. Knowing this, F-8 immediately accepts the invitation and gives up their vigilante persona. All police units have been called back to duty at the same time.

Zephyr eventually discovers who F-8 is and decides to retaliate, stealing a decommissioned police car and respraying it in his style. He then uses the vehicle to draw police attention and destroy police units coming after him. Afterward, the RCPD was cleared of all accusations against its officers, causing a public outrage as the VRT stayed in Redview County. The increase in police activity and discontent over the violent arrests of street racers leads Zephyr to release a public message to the RCPD, demanding that they stop their brutality. He then issues an open challenge to the racers and the cops, a race around Redview County, so that the two sides of the law could resolve their differences once and for all.


Racing gameplay in Need for Speed Rivals is based on the concept of "cat and mouse." The player takes on the role of either a street racer or a police officer, with each side having its own set of missions to complete. Racers must evade the police while completing racing objectives, while cops must apprehend speedsters while achieving law enforcement objectives. Players can switch between the two sides at any time during the game. The gritty open road environment was the right call and perfectly complemented features like weapons. Weapons allowed cops and racers to launch varying assaults on the adversary, which NFS Hot Pursuit inspired. Racers may deploy radar jammers, activate shockwaves, drop stun mines, or activate turbo boosts. Cops may put up speed bumps, establish roadblocks, call helicopter support, or fire shock rams.

SCREENSHOTS: Need For Speed Rivals Game Art


Need For Speed Rivals' soundtrack is electrifying and complements the high-speed, adrenaline-fueled racing action. The soundtrack features electronic and rock music, including tracks from well-known artists like The Bloody Beetroots, Foals, and No Doubt. The piece is designed to create an intense and immersive racing experience, with each track adding to the game's energy and excitement. Overall, the soundtrack of Need for Speed Rivals is an integral part of the game and adds to the overall thrill and excitement of the racing experience.

Many people consider the Need For Speed Rivals soundtrack to be the game's best feature. However, some critics called the soundtrack "obnoxious" and lowered their rating even more.

Cars List

Need for Speed Rivals cars list features a diverse and extensive array of vehicles, ranging from classic muscle cars to modern sports cars and hypercars. The following is a list of some of the best cars featured in the game:

  • Lamborghini Aventador

  • Porsche 911 Carrera S

  • McLaren MP4-12C

  • Ferrari 458 Italia

  • Audi R8 V10 Plus

  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

  • Dodge Viper SRT

  • Ford Mustang GT

  • Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

  • BMW M4

The car list in Need for Speed Rivals provides a wide range of choices for players, allowing them to find the perfect car for their driving style and racing preferences. While the selection offered some of the fastest cars available then, the variety could have been better than advertised. These cars can be customized with various performance upgrades, cosmetic modifications, and liveries. Players can also unlock new cars and upgrades as they progress through the game.


Besides some basic decals, mods, and color changes, NFS Rivals offers limited car customization. Critics didn't like this, believing that the lack of options took away the game's replay value. Other racing video games offered better choices, and players expected more from Criterion Games.

Cops and Racers

Need for Speed Rivals features two distinct gameplay modes: cop and racer. In the cop mode, players take on the role of law enforcement officers tasked with stopping racers and busting them for street racing. In the racer mode, players assume the role of street racers who must outrun the cops and complete high-speed races. Each gameplay mode offers unique challenges and rewards, providing hours of gameplay value.

Players can switch between these two modes at any time, allowing them to choose how they want to play the game. The choice of which side of the law to play is entirely up to the player, and there is no wrong choice.

High Stakes Rivalry

The rivalry between cops and racers is the central conflict in Need for Speed Rivals. This street-racing rivalry is reflected in the game's high-stakes racing, with both sides vying for supremacy on the open road. The stakes are high, and the competition is intense. Each side of the law has its own set of high-stakes challenges. There can be only one winner in this rivalry. Which side will you choose?


Need for Speed Rivals received generally positive reviews from critics upon its release in 2013. The game was praised for its improved graphics, intense racing action, and the addition of new features such as the AllDrive system, which allowed players to switch between single-player and multiplayer modes seamlessly.

Critics also praised the game's diverse car list, customization options, and the open-world map that provided players with a large and varied racing environment. The soundtrack was also well received, with its mix of electronic and rock music adding to the game's energy and excitement.

However, some criticized the game for its repetitive missions and the lack of effective story content. Some also felt that the game's multiplayer features needed to be fully fleshed out and could have been improved.

AllDrive Was A Bane

AllDrive was supposed to be the future of online play. No waiting to connect with friends, no switching between single player and multiplayer. Just hop in and out of the world and meet whenever and wherever. Sounded like a dream to online players looking for a better racing experience. Then the trouble started. The developers decided to lower the framerate from 60FPS to 30FPS to better suit the All Drive feature. Console hardware and home internet speeds needed to be more powerful to support 1080P at 60FPS on an always-connected to the internet game. This would have been fine if AllDrive wasn't such a headache. It often kicked players out of the world map, even in empty lobbies or in the middle of a race.

Technical issues and Criticism

Need for Speed Rivals was plagued by technical issues at launch, especially in the online multiplayer mode. These problems were eventually fixed by patches released after launch. The game was criticized for its lack of innovation, with some reviewers feeling that it was more of the same experience as the previous games in the series.


Need For Speed Rivals promised the ultimate high stakes rivalry. With a vast game world, agile cars, aggressive busts, and various car packages, NFS Rivals showed promise. The real problem was the game's lack of features and inability to perform consistently for multiplayer action at launch. Being built on the Frostbite engine gave it a graphics advantage, but the lower framerate limited the game from reaching its full potential. A lack of cars without buying DLC, Deluxe edition, or Complete edition is disappointing. If you want to see for yourself how good or bad this game is, Need For Speed Rivals is on EA Play.


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