|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||NEED FOR SPEED 3|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Racing||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||April 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Electronic Arts has finally completed the Need for Speed trilogy with NFS III: Hot Pursuit. We won't count the NFS: V-Rally title since it truly wasn't an NFS game. It was actually a title that was developed overseas in Europe, purchased by EA and slapped with the NFS nameplate. Besides, it's our magazine and I just don't wanna include it! At any rate, the history behind the NFS titles is an interesting one. The first NFS game was truly a driving simulator. Car physics were incredibly accurate and unforgiving and we had those magnificent car flips. The second NFS title attempted to be more of an arcade racer, fresh with a new 3D engine and international locales. I uncomfortably remember being one of the few people that actually liked the 2nd game...not more than the first of course, yet I found it entertaining. Most fans threw their hands up in disgust and walked away from it. Well now NFS III has arrived and EA has tried to iron out all of the shortcomings of the second title, while bringing back one of the most enjoyable aspects of the first title; the pursuit mode. Does EA succeed with number 3 or is it just more of the same old stuff? I would hope that you know the line by now..."Read on to find out!"...
Need For Speed III is a combination arcade / simulation driving game that provides would be Mario Andretti's with the opportunity to cruise in some of the worlds most exotic street cars.
For those of you familiar with the previous two NFS titles, all I can say is "Yippee!" the grainy graphics are finally gone. The one thing that has always annoyed me with the two previous NFS games was the grainy scenery graphics. They always appeared as if you were viewing them through a diffuser of some sort. The background scenery in NFS III is just plain wonderful. Besides the somewhat "papery" looking towns, the backdrop is alive with colors and motion. Leaves kick up and swirl as the blazing cars cause turbulence. Blimps, trains, planes and assortments of other animated goodies all make appearances as you motor on down the highway. Getting distracted with the backgrounds is a very real problem in this game...pay attention! The car models are also a thing of beauty. Each car is very easy to make out from the next one and all resemble their real-life counterparts pretty damn good. There is liberal use of reflections off the windshield with tunnel lights and sky patterns shining off the glass. The cars can also be color customized. There are at least four colors for each vehicle to choose from and the colors vary somewhat from car to car. There is also a nice slide show included for each car. The graphical special effects used in this game are truly cutting edge. Don't believe me?...just try driving in the nighttime with the weather effects set on rain...unfreaking believable! The car headlights reach out just far enough up the road to make out where you are going. Of course the faster you go the better your chances are of over-driving the light beams and becoming one with a canyon wall. But wait, there is hope...just when it seems that you need it the most, a bright flash of lightning occurs illuminating the sky (and the track) just long enough to get your bearings straight and push the car ever faster. This effect is stellar, and it's not even the best one. The coolest effects in the game occur in the Pursuit Mode while driving at night. As the cop car approaches from behind, little by little the red and blue lights begin to bleed into your field of vision until finally the entire screen is virtually filled with a blue and red swirling light show. It's so realistic, it brought back memories of my good old days....Doh! Rounding out the special effects department is the weather. Rain actually looks like rain, pelting down on the streets. As your car fires down the road, water sprays from the tires...the only thing missing is a windshield wiper. The snow billows and swirls and naturally makes the road quite difficult to grab. It also makes the background look like a winter wonderland. It's all very convincing. To say that the graphics are a step up from the past two NFS games would be a dreadful understatement...they are leaps and bounds ahead and some of the best seen in a console driving game to date. It's what we should expect from a 3rd generation driving franchise.
Sounds and Effects
Most driving games have been doing a pretty darn good job simulating the sounds of the beasts you are driving. You always hear the stories about the recording crew dragging their equipment to the pits to get the actual digitized sounds of the cars from the game. This is all very nice, but what the hell would I know...it isn't too often that I actually get the chance to stand next to a Italdesign car revving it's engine to know the difference in sound between that and a Ferrari (or a Porsche for that matter). Let's just say that I suppose the same holds true in this game. Each car has a very distinctive engine rumble as well as that particular cars horn sound. One thing I know for sure, the '98 Vette motor AND horn sounds exactly like the real thing. You also get the appropriate metal on metal sounds, burning rubber, skids and other road noises. Where EA separates itself from the rest of the pack are the sounds that give the game a presence and style unlike almost any other racer out there. What I meant by that last statement are the subtle background noises and the attention to detail in any given circumstance. For example, your sizzling down a country road approaching a town when all of a sudden off in the distance you hear a dog barking...or cruising along a farm and a crop duster makes it's presence known. Travel through a tunnel and you can hear the echoing sounds of the cars engine off the walls. When driving through the pavilion on the Atlantica track with coppers on your tail you can hear the magnified PA voice of the officer telling you to pull over bouncing all over the place. When the blimp makes its first appearance you can actually feel the sucker long before it comes into view. Of course this is all accomplished in Dolby Surround sound so those of you pumping your Playstation through a surround receiver are in for a real treat. What it all boils down to is atmosphere...the game goes that extra mile to really make you feel like your out there driving, not just observing. The music is a decent blend of driving rock rhythms and pop. It's no Sound Garden or Pantera but it does the job without being annoying or obtrusive. I say crank the sound effects and have the music playing off in the background and you have yourself a nice blend. On a final note, the voice effects for the police are pretty cool too. Actually it's kind of laughable...listening to someone yelling at me to "Pull over...what are you, crazy"...well, of course I'm crazy what else would I be a doing driving a $200,000 car at 200mph on an icy road...yahooo!
Sitting down with yet another Need For Speed game late on a Thursday night was not exactly something that I looked forward to. Don't get me wrong here, I have a special little place in my cold heart for the previous two titles and absolutely love driving games to death, but I was suspecting that NFS III was just going to be more of the same except with different cars...boy was I wrong! Right from the start, I appreciated the wonderful menu system that is used in this game and all of the fantastic options that were available to me. First off you can independently adjust the voice, music and sound effects volumes and set the game for mono, stereo or surround...heck; you can even adjust the volume of the music playing while in the menu screens. Next up you can select the various types of races you want to participate in. Here are the choices: - Single Race: Check out the available tracks and cars to get a feel for things before setting off on the more difficult modes. - Hot Pursuit: It's just you and another driver out on the open road, with vehicle traffic thrown in to make things interesting. Oh, this mode also introduces the police...in fact it introduces a whole bunch of them. If you survive until the end of the race, they are virtually swarming you like a nest of hornets trying everything from a Corvette cop car to road spikes to bring you down. - Tournament: This mode pits you against seven other drivers. The object is to finish the tournament with the overall best time and ranking. This mode will unlock tracks and some of the games super cars. - Knockout: Elimination at its best. The object is the finish each race ahead of the last place driver to proceed to the next round. Finish last in any of the races and you are out. This mode is tough and there is no option to save the game between races...it's all or nothing my friend. Win this one and you unlock a hidden track (it's very cool) and another car. - Practice: This is a solo venture on any of the available tracks to learn the bends and curves of the road before taking on one of the previous modes. BORING! Get in there and race!! The cars can be set for arcade or simulation. There is a very BIG difference between the two settings. In arcade mode you can pull off some of the best power slides and drifting maneuvers since Rage Racer. This mode is a blast to play and is best used for winning the tournaments and unlocking all of the goodies. Simulation mode is a different story all together. The physics of the game change radically when you are in this mode. To see just how accurate it was, I selected the one car in this game that I am intimately familiar with...the '98 Vette. From around 10 to 80 miles per hour all was fine and the car did pretty much what I told it to do, once I popped it over that magical 100mph mark though, things went wrong in a hurry. Braking around turns is unforgiving if not done at just the right time and speed. I also noticed that the steering under compensated during lateral acceleration. Side to side buffeting was also rather unpredictable with the car occasionally swerving out of control. There are many little custom settings that you can perform on your car in the sim mode to try and get it just right for each track so perhaps with the proper effort I could have gotten the car to handle more like its real life counterpart. Overall, I just found the simulation mode to be more of a hassle than anything else and found myself jumping into the arcade mode time after time. Next you can set the skill level between beginner and expert. Beginner mode has the computer controlled cars driving slightly slower and less aggressively. In the expert mode there is no margin for error and you best not piss off any of the other drivers because they very much carry a good deal of hostility! I can remember a few races in which I had accidentally (yeah right) "nudged" a driver off the road a bit and into a canyon wall (Hehehe) only to be later surprised by that same car trying to ram my ass off into the trees or into a building! Yo! The game almost becomes more of a grudge match than a race for the checkered flag. Thankfully the game is compatible with the Sony Dual Analog controller. Anything else would be a waste. Driving games are perfectly suited for this controller with the gas/break set on the right knob and the steering on the left one. Control is great in the arcade mode and the cars do just as they are told...for the most part! Driving is a rush and the game simulates a very good sense of speed. I don't mean to elude to the fact that you feel like you are going over 200mph, but considering all of the polygons the game is pushing around it sure does move along just fine. The cars also feel like they are on the road this time instead of just hovering above it. That was one of my major criticisms of the last NFS game, the cars always felt like they were floating above the track. Oh and speaking of the tracks, they are engineered beautifully. Each of the tracks has a unique theme and appearance to them. There are also multiple paths that become unlocked on each track as you win races. Everything moves by extremely smooth with no pop-up or draw-in...sweet. The tracks are also quite long as well, so it's a good thing they are so much fun to drive on. Laps can be adjusted from 2, 4 or 8 in the single race or Pursuit modes but become fixed at 4 laps in Tournament mode and 2 laps in Knockout. You also get to select mirror mode, backward mode or any combination thereof. Some other nice stuff that is thrown in are a ton of camera angles, an awesome replay mode, verbal track descriptions and car histories. About the only thing missing here is the inside dash view of each car. You can certainly drive form inside the car, but gone are the nice instrument displays, steering wheel and drivers hand. EA apparently took their time with NFS III, combining the best elements of I & II, refining the gameplay, tightening up the control and adding lots of bells and whistles to round out the package. What we end up getting here is easily the best of the 3 NFS games and in my opinion one of the greatest racers to grace a home console. The gameplay is deep, car handling is dead on and the title is just plain damn fun to play. Now if we can just get those spectacular car flips and dash boards from NFS I back...ah well, there's always a NFS IV lurking around a corner I'm sure...
Value for Money
I have yet to find any secrets that let you drive all of the neat stuff that the last NFS provided (remember the T Rex...), but I am willing to bet there are more than 8 cars available. The track count starts out a bit low at 4 but quickly grows as you open up new routes and hidden tracks. Throw in mirror and backward modes, night driving and selectable weather and you should have enough to keep you busy. The overall balance of the game and the challenge it provides in each race mode is significant enough to warrant a very good value for your money. Heck, that's one of the beauties of a good driving game...you always try to do a little better and squeeze a little more out of the car with each and every race.
truly awesome driving game with everything thrown in except for the
kitchen sink (and a dash view...errrr). You get a stable of incredible
cars, wonderfully designed tracks and immersive gameplay thanks to some
of the best sound effects ever to grace a console racer.
I'll tell ya, I wasn't looking forward to another NFS title but was damn glad to see this one on my Playstation. I know a lot of people out there are waiting for Gran Tourismo to get released but to be honest, NFS III offers enough different types of racing modes and thrills that it will stand on its own and actually compliment GT very well. It's a very solid, competent racer.