I have no love for EA, and I don’t mind saying it, but even I can’t deny that the Need for Speed franchise has appeared on as many gamers’ shelves as so many of the greatest games in history. I’ve always thought of it as the middle-ground between two of the most outright opposite racing games of the last decade, Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. While Need for Speed has never been as crazy as Mario Kart, nor as super serious as Gran Turismo, it always managed to provide exactly the right amount of high-quality visuals, in-depth customisation and arcade-style gameplay to suit any occasion.
And it always been pretty good at targeting a niche, too. From Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted to Undercover and Drift, Need for Speed has attempted to offer its own take on every racing scenario of the modern world with varied success.
Today, it the Free to Play (F2P) MMO arena EA are looking to dominate, and with Need for Speed World (NFSW) leading the charge, they just might. NFSW doesn’t stray far from the beaten path of the franchise, and sticks closer to the Undercover branch than it does most others, in that the core gameplay revolves around racing street cars against other cars for cash and reputation, upgrading and customizing your ride as you go.
Naturally, this progressive style meshes with the F2P MMO scheme seamlessly, and the addition of ‘Free Roam’ mode allowing you to drive wherever you like in a persistent world filled with thousands of other players further bridges the gap. As such, getting started in NFSW is as easy as any other in the series. Sign in to your EA account, download the 700MB client, choose a car and get racing. You can race alone in time trial events, or against other players in a variety of modes, or you can cruise the streets looking for racers to challenge on your own.
The goal, such as it is, is to continue racing and winning, to increase your level, reputation and bank balance, allowing you to purchase new cars and upgrades, and do it all over again. And, like most other F2P MMOs, the option to purchase upgrades, cars and even boost your level progress or cash gain per race by spending real-world cash on boost.
And of course, it as enjoyable and addictive as ever. The online modes available in the various NFS releases don’t come close to the feeling of a persistent world environment with thousands of racers on every corner. Of course, that multiplayer immersion comes at a price: NFSW is severely limited in content. There still a good selection of maps and cars available, but when compared to an off-the-shelf member of the franchise, there a noticeable difference.
Throw in some power-ups like nitrous boosters and traffic magnets, and you’ve got yourself a competent NFS game that you can play, right now, free of charge. It a new world alright. And I think I’m starting to like it.
Free Roam Mode
Long Loading Times
No In-Browser Support
Noticeable Latency issues