by Mariana Morales
previewed on X360
“The Race for Your Life, The Race of Your Life”
The Need for Speed series has come a long way from its start 17 years ago. Developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts, The Run will be the 18th game of the successful annual franchise. The developers want to raise the graphics bar for this game so they are using DICE’s Frostbite 2.0 game engine, making the Run the first non-shooter game to use this engine.
Entering the race is just the beginning
EA Black Box hopes to take the concept of an action adventure game based around driving to another level in Need for Speed: The Run. Players take control of Jack, a very skilled driver who is involved in a high stakes race from San Francisco to New York. He leaves with no speed limits or allies, the mob and the police chasing him, and only one goal: get to New York. Although we don’t know why he is racing to New York yet, the story will take place both behind the wheel and on foot. This will be the first game in the franchise to be set in different locations besides the Shift spin-offs.
Since Black Box partnered with DICE to bring the engine to The Run, it makes it easier to modify tracks while designing the game. According to designer Alex Grimble, if a producer wanted to change something on a track, it would usually take a day for it to change and for it to be playable in the game. With the new engine, they can accomplish that in minutes. They can make as many changes as needed. Previously, designers, artists, and coders worked separately. Now in The Run, they are working closely together in small groups to really bring their creations to the game.
The engine also allows the developers to include voice and body movements that bring the drivers to life when they are outside of their cars. The player will always need to find a vehicle, so being outside the car will account for a small percentage of the game because the developers want everyone to remember that this is still a racing game. It doesn’t seem like the player will be able to move freely around, but rather participate in quick-time events as shown in the E3 gameplay video.
Jason Delong, the executive producer at EA, says that the actor animation in the new engine is really important because “for the first time in Need for Speed history, you’re going to get out of the car.” The original idea was to give you full control of the character. The player would have been able to go out and explore the world. It probably would have taken them an extra year to develop the game if they had left that feature in. However, this is not Grand Theft Auto - it’s Need for Speed. The developers opted to cut that feature in favor of a more controlled driving experience.
Out on a limb
Need for Speed: The Run is taking the franchise out on a limb (pun intended) by including on-foot chase sequences. As they are currently shown to be just quick-time events, it is still unclear whether they will add anything worthwhile to the game. Of course, the main draw of the Need for Speed games has always been the cars, racing, and chasing. EA hopes to deliver another hit in that respect with Need for Speed: The Run, which will release on November 15, 2011 in North America, and November 17 in Europe on the x360, PS3, PC, Wii and the 3DS.