The multiplayer of many racing games consists of racing on oval tracks that you or your friends have unlocked in the single player game. These tracks might be familiar to you if you watch racing. Need for Speed The Run doesn’t have that luxury because they don’t have oval tracks. You might be familiar with some of the cities you race through, but what about those long open stretches between cities? I got a chance to sit down with The Run recently and found out how Black Box has delivered an adrenaline-pumping experience.
While some racing games give you a bunch of tracks to choose from, The Run gives you a number of different playlists. These playlists group a few tracks, usually in the same geographical area, to give you the sense that you are racing through a portion of the US against the same people. This also keeps you driving since you don’t have to choose a new track every time an individual race ends. The races are short, generally taking around three minutes each.
Another nice feature of these playlists is the developers try to group the races together so that they can group similar cars. While limiting the available cars for each playlist might sound like a hassle, it also puts everyone on the same footing and stresses skill over the car. That doesn’t mean you won’t have a wide variety of cars to choose from. I didn’t have a chance to look at all the cars available in multiplayer before the racing session started.
The sense of speed while racing against other racers is a total rush. While there is some bunching at the beginning of the race, there is enough room that scratching paint will only be done intentionally. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have plenty of opportunities to bump and run. While you won’t run cars off the road like Burnout, giving others a friendly nudge reminds them that you are there to win the race.
Shortcuts are available through the tracks. You don’t have to guess if they are there in The Run though. If you look at your mini-map while racing, shortcuts can be seen in orange. It ensures that those Road Closed signs you are ready to blast through are just hiding a shortcut there and won’t cause you to come to a screeching halt. Remember that everyone can see the shortcuts as well.
At the end of each race you gain experience points. Throughout the race points are awarded for the position you are in at checkpoints as well as performing special moves such as drifting. They are also generous with the points given, as you can get awards for things like scratching the most paint, going from first to worst, or not hitting any opposing traffic. Yes, you will gain experience even if you don’t do well. This should encourage those who didn’t drive in multiplayer races well to continue racing.
After each playlist you are given the option to vote on two different playlists to race on. Once the majority has selected which playlist to use, a bonus wheel spins down the center of the screen like the wheel used in the Showcase Showdown of The Price is Right. This wheel has different bonuses that can be gained throughout that next playlist. It’s a cool feature that should encourage experienced racers to continue racing in the multiplayer.
If you don’t want to go online but you feel like getting some racing in, then Black Box has provided a way to challenge yourself. Not surprisingly, it’s called the Challenge Series. Here you can race in areas that you have already raced in, but the situation might be different. That clear day in the mountain you raced in might now have snow. You might also be going the opposite direction of which way you were going.
Each challenge has different levels of success. You can collect bronze, silver, gold, and platinum medals for each one. With the Autolog, you can see how your friends did in that particular challenge, and which car they used. This lets you keep track of how you have done against your friends, and gives a little friendly competition with your buddies.
It looks like you’ll have plenty more than just racing from San Francisco to New York City. With over 70 challenges and an extensive multiplayer experience, it looks like The Run could satisfy your racing needs for a while.