Thursday 24 November 2016

Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (3DO review)

Developer: EA Canada, Pioneer Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: 1994

Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed is the first title in the long-running series from Electronic Arts.

There's eight cars to choose from (including the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, Dodge Viper RT/10, Ferrari 512TR and Lamborghini Diablo VT) and you can either race against the clock or an opponent. Each race affords you four major crashes, but you must also avoid getting pulled over by the cops, as three tickets result in an arrest. A selection of three camera angles are available, as well as a cool instant replay feature. Despite the game's title, it really doesn't have much in the way of speed and it's much slower paced than a lot of other racing games. The action is solid though with weighty, yet responsive car controls, a consistent frame-rate and a fantastic draw distance. There's only three courses (each split into three sections) but they're beautifully designed and challenge your driving skills in different ways. For example, the City track is full of one-way straights where you can simply push the accelerator down. Alpine features winding, heavily populated roads that 'up' the intensity due to its tight corners and steep drops that keep your heart firmly in your mouth! The gorgeous beach-themed Coastal track is pretty much a halfway house between the two, as it dares you to burn down the straights before suddenly throwing a tight corner at you. Each one is instantly enjoyable with lengthy routes and tons of scenic shifts to keep you engaged. The CPU puts up a good fight throughout and I like that they're not immune to crashing. Graphically, the game is breathtaking and to round out the package there's plenty of car porn (specific to each vehicle) and cheesy 90's FMV cut-scenes of your smug opponent!
Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed is an exceptional racing simulator and revisiting it today highlights just how well the game has aged. I do wish it had a bit more content, but its top-tier course design, smooth controls, technical prowess and stunning graphics will keep you playing for a long time.
Random trivia: The game was later ported to MS-DOS (1995), PlayStation (1996) and Sega Saturn (1996) with some additions such as extra courses and multiplayer.

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