Pop quiz, hotshot. Genres associated with MMOs. What's the first one that springs to mind? If you didn't say 'role playing game' just now, then you're a liar and need to hide your shame. If you thought 'racing game', based on the title of this feature, then you cheated, and nobody can hide that sort of shame.
Yes, the Need For Speed
series is going social in its latest PC-only venture, and it's actually pretty fun. If you can detect some surprise in that sentence, then you're right ? I am surprised. Need For Speed World
is the third pillar in an attempted reboot of the franchise, following Shift
was alright but its departure from its roots let it down, and the less said about the Wii and DS Nitro
games the better really.
So my hopes weren't set very high for World
, particularly as my brain tends to switch off whenever someone mentions the term 'MMO.' What did grab my attention was the words 'free' and 'Most Wanted
.' A PC game download featuring gameplay based on the best Need For Speed
game in nearly ten years? Sign me up!
Of course, it should be pointed out that the game is not totally 'free' ? you get all of the cars, all of the customisation options and paint jobs, a segment of the world map and ten levels gratis, while more tracks and game modes will be offered by way of microtransactions. Maybe I'm just an oddball, but I found that to be a pretty good deal.
You unlock new cars by collecting virtual money, called NFS Cash. This is earned on a race-by-race basis ? coming first place will net you a lot more Cash than trundling in at eighth for example. Cash can also be used to buy new vinyls and paint options to dress up your ride. So if you want to have the best car with totally pimping pink stripes or something, you're going to have to put the work in and earn that dough.
If you simply don't have the time to do all of that ? my main bugbear in MMOs - there is a microtransaction option in the way of 'renting' cars you've yet to unlock. This uses real-world currency called Speed Boost, that you top up with your credit card. Purchase a particular car to use for a limited time period and you'll be able to match the horsepower of any friends that may challenge you.
Once you've customised your own starter car and landed in the open city, there are a variety of options available to you. The most obvious one is simply to drive around and smash stuff up ? much like in the aforementioned Most Wanted
, if the cops catch sight of any lawbreaking they will chase you down until you either lose them or get caught. Icons dotted about the roads will symbolise different kinds of races that you can engage in ? or you can access any races in a given area by opening up your map.