Need for Speed Rivals Download takes place in the fictional Redview County, which has probably the most diverse geography imaginable. Within the confines of its map you can take in parched deserts and lush vineyards, upmarket seaside promenades and snowy mountain passes. It provides a welcome change of pace after the urban sprawl of Most Wanted, though I came to really miss those concrete labyrinths when I was outrunning the cops.
But it’s ultimately a tradeoff, with Redview’s long, winding roads setting the stage for some truly operatic chases that go on for miles. They’re better suited for drifting and pushing fast cars to their limits, like Hot Pursuit, instead of outfoxing the cops and hiding like in Most Wanted. It’s all about the ballet of the chase. It’s a shame there wasn’t room in this world for both play styles, as it would’ve given us more variety to play with. And very occasionally, I did find myself being spotted by the cops even though I’d seemingly given them the slip, which was slightly frustrating.
Need for Speed Rivals Download is fantastically pretty, making great use of your next-gen console or PC. Cars look brilliant, near photorealistic. But Need for Speed has always had a slightly heightened approach to its presentation, and that’s still the case. Its cars are noisy creatures, always ready to race – look closely and you’ll see beads of moisture dripping down the bodywork, as if the car’s physically exerted itself. Weather effects are equally impressive. Rain, sun, and snow – as well as the time of day – have a big impact on the look of the game. Torrential downpours clog up the screen, while sometimes at night you’ll flashes of lightning illuminated the highly-textured road surface. And while it may not be the most densely populated of landscapes, there’s always something to catch the eye.