Needs for Speed: Rivals (Xbox One) Review
The "career" mode is separated into two distinct categories that you can swap between at will. You can choose to play as a Cop or a Racer whenever you head back to your hideout/command post. Both types of driving are equally fun and noticeably different. The cars overlap (same models for both cop & racer) but you will unlock them individually as your progress through the different careers. If you unlock the Dodge Challenger in cop mode, you are not unlocking it in racer mode at the same time. There are sets of challenges that you are given for your session (which can be changed - though I haven't explored how) that when completed, unlock the next car in your career. Those challenges can be anything from earning a certain amount of SP (XP) for your session, competing in a certain type of event, placing X place or better in an event. They are in groups and do not reset when heading to your hideout/command post, so if you take a break, you pick up right where you left off with whatever challenges you have completed.
Like any other racing game, as you complete tasks or raise levels, you unlock new cars. You use your SP to purchase those cars and "simple" upgrades to your vehicle. This isn't like Forza, no tuning. You simply upgrade your control, acceleration, durability, etc. There are 5 levels of each for every car and they increase in price as you upgrade. Personalizing your car is pretty basic, however you get unlimited colors right off the bat with the ability purchase stripes, decals, etc with your SP. You will gain access to specific liveries as you rank up also. You can even change the style and lettering on your license plate! You also have "Pursuit Tech" which at it's basic premise adds the Blur element in. You will have some same & different options for cop cars and for racers but a few are EMP blasts, shock rams, drop mines and spike strips.
When you are finished fixing up your car the way you want, you exit the garage and then choose how/where you enter the world. First off, you can select what type of room you want to be in. Public, Private, Single Player are all available options. Quite frankly, for regular playtime, I can't see going any other way than Public. What?! Players can be in your room or not, join at any time and leave at any time. This is where the pure seamless play of the game really shines. You are always playing alone AND with others at the same time! You can also select to begin right in a race/event/chase or at a specific hideout/command post on the map. While you are in your map view, you can see where other racers/cops are, so you can choose to avoid them, or start near them. You will gain SP as you complete challenges/win races/bust racers - there is no difference in the SP you earn with others or alone.
So, to explain this a little more and what makes it so amazing. Things change and change quickly. Playing as a racer? Fire yourself up a single player race. You will get 3 other cars that will come flying by and you are now racing! You didn't really wait, other than having the camera view switch to show you the other cars beginning. See another racer zip by, or headed in your direction? Hit your LB and it will offer them a head to head race, WHILE they are driving. There is no stopping. More often than not, this other player will hit their LB at the same time, you are instantly in a head to head race! Your GPS shows you the way, so step on it, quickly! Through all of this, beware - cops are "hearing" about your races. The game has a built-in dispatcher than lets you know if racers are near cops and if a pursuit is starting. Not only are you racing, but you are also trying to outrun the cops!
This brings me to why playing a cop is so much fun. You can be slowly driving down the road (yea right) and have one racer competing in a single player time trial, or a batch of racers in an event whiz by you. Pop on your lights, and instant hot pursuit! Other cops on the map are alerted and can (and will) join the chase! It's a constant ebb and flow of action. The racers will try to lose you.
There are plenty of different routes/side roads to use. In some ways it's like burnout with the shortcuts, though they are fewer and farther between, so there is less to keep a handle on. People playing all the time will likely have a little leg up, but the shortcuts come with their own disadvantages. Dirt roads, fields, buildings, jumps to deal with that can slow you down or ruin your race. If you are swift enough, you can lose your tail and escape - though chase may start right back up if a cop sees your car again. If you are a racer you had better escape. Get busted and lose all the SP you earned during this session! Each time you head to a hideout/command post you will bank your SP, so you better make it back!
The graphics are top notch. The police lights are HID like in real life and are really done well. The cars, reflections and damage all look great. The only minor flaw, is tire smoke/dust kick up looks a little detached from your car. It doesn't look like it's coming from your tires as much as it is floating behind you. The sound is fantastic and the dispatcher really makes the experience more immersive.
When put all together this game is fantastically fun. This feels like a "next-gen" experience with it's completely seamless and intertwined SP/MP - it's just P! Having races/chases just begin almost out of the blue makes it such an immersive experience.
I have two minor complaints about it. #1 - the camera angles are very limited. You get in the car and out of the car chase view. I would really love to be able to raise up the out of the car chase view, which is what I use. It is a little low for me, and block my vision of the road. if I could raise it up about 10 degrees, I think it would be much better. As a cop, the flashing lights can be a little more intrusive. #2 - nobody on my FL is playing it!
So, there you go - go get it!