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Gaming: Need For Speed is back!
Don’t call it a comeback. This is your first look at Need For Speed, which arrives on PS4, Xbox One and PC in Autumn after two years in the workshop.
As the pared-back, subtitle-free name suggests, it’s a full reboot for the series after the polished but lacklustre Need for Speed: Rivals.
The development team at EA decided to ‘rest’ the series for 2014, in order to establish exactly what fans want from an NFS game. What you see before you is first evidence of all that head scratching and napkin scribbling.
All that’s been released so far is a brief teaser trailer and this handful of screens that are shot in a style more traditionally associated with a gentleman’s periodical than a racing game - all fetishistic close ups and glistening bodywork.
But while these seven screenshots probably wouldn’t make up a jigsaw puzzle of a single vehicle, we can divine plenty from what they do show. A return to the illicit street racing scene from 2003’s Need For Speed: Underground - an era when the series used to steam-roll over all comers in the Christmas charts - is clearly EA’s objective.
The stated aim is to bring Need for Speed closer to real-life car culture and to make you genuinely care about the car you’re driving. The developer pinky-promises a gripping, emotional storyline, which given the runaway success of the Fast and Furious movies probably involves a man with a voice like gravel in a cement mixer saying the word ‘family’ a lot.
Key to the feeling of attachment to your car will be a customisation feature that allows you to disassemble your vehicle and add spoilers, splitters and neon until it looks like it was drawn by a 12 year old hopped up on Haribo. And while you won’t have the option of playing as a cop this time around, five-oh will definitely be taking a keen interest in your exploits.
Still, the game’s ‘nocturnal open world’ should offer plenty of hiding places. The city will almost certainly be fictional, but expect Need For Speed to be a gloomy, atmospheric, sodium-lit affair, inspired by Hollywood visions of Los Angeles like Drive and Collateral.
For this game, EA has abandoned the previous generation of consoles, the Xbox 360 and PS3, so it can really let rip with the graphical quality.
There’ll be more details, including a full-length trailer featuring proper in-game footage, during EA’s conference at the E3 videogame expo on June 15. Until then, you can busy yourself counting the individual, lovingly rendered water droplets on the haunch of that 911…