Hey everyone! Welcome to the LibraScope 250 subscriber special! I’ve gotten quite a few requests over the years to look at the game that today’s video is about. It continues to surprise me that my Need for Speed Underground 2 video is still far and away, my most popular. So I figured now was the time I should complete that request, and take a look at the spiritual sequel it got a decade later!
Watch It Here
The Need...The Need For Speed
Need for Speed is one of the -if not the– highest-selling racing game series of all time. Only series’ like Mario Kart and Gran Turismo even begin to compete on the same stage. And to a certain extent, that’s warranted; some of the best racing games ever released have Need for Speed in the title. Still, some of that may also be through sheer volume of games released. Need for Speed has more or less been on a yearly release schedule since the second game in 1997. Or, well, they were, until Need for Speed 2015 broke that streak. With two years of development time instead of one, a rather new primary development team in Ghost Games, and a pinpoint focus on the new console hardware, Need for Speed 2015 was an attempted reboot of the image for the series, which had become rather ragged in the last decade, in spite of a decently solid track record overall.
Few games in the series were considered truly bad, and most of the worst were handheld ports of much better console games. And even then, some of the other handheld titles seem pretty decent at that. Still, there was no denying that Need for Speed didn’t seem to have a clear direction by 2015. One year they’d have an open-world street racing arcade game. Then they’d suddenly release a story-driven, linear cinematic racer. Then a simcade title that was all officially sanctioned, sponsored track racing. Then a classic arcade title focused entirely on high-end supercars and police chases. The identity of the series felt scattered because it was rare for the next game to follow the previous in any logical way.
Need for Speed 2015’s goal was to hit the reset button, and recreate the fire that had lit under the series with Underground 1. Underground 1 is the title that truly turned the series into a mainstay of the industry, and it effortlessly translated to two follow-ups in Underground 2 and Most Wanted, all three of which ended up being the highest selling games in the series… two of them being some of the highest-selling racing games of all time.
Do. Or do not. There is no try.
But Need for Speed 2015 wasn’t your grandma’s Underground. You weren’t gonna be listening to Crunk and Nu Metal while tricking out SUVs with gaudy body kits that looked like they’d been stolen off of your little brother’s Hot Wheels toys. This game was going to be modernized… focused on car culture, the love of racing, and the nuance of micromanaging every bolt on the car as if it was the Mona Lisa. This game was supposed to be The Chosen One. Its midi-chlorian levels were off the charts.
But we all know how that story ends; with the hero becoming the villain and a bunch of dead younglings.
The strangest thing about Need for Speed 2015 at release was that on the surface, it was everything so many of us could’ve ever hoped for. It had so many of the perfect ingredients and knew how to use them. But in its obsessive pursuit of recognition for its successes, it forgot the fundamentals of the craft. It was probably the best racing game you could dream up, with racing you would only conceive of in your worst nightmares.
Hyperbole, of course. But still, there’s no denying that Need for Speed 2015 fundamentally misunderstood the fervor with which car enthusiasts like to micromanage and own their vehicles, and the lust we have to be one with the road. It’s so weird that the characters in the game understand this sacred relationship, but the developers didn’t. Or maybe they did, and something else got in the way. Who am I to say? All I know is that we got some truly baffling racing design to go with our tuner culture dessert at launch.
But it has been nearly four years, several patches, and a few good content updates since that initial release. They’ve come a long way to completely iron out most of the performance drops, fixed the severe AI rubber banding, and so much more. But was it enough? What’s the game like now that the dust has settled?
Road Work Ahead
Well firstly, we should probably look at the major content updates and changes that took place over its core lifespan, and pinpoint the changes that will be important to this critique.
The game itself released on November 9th of 2015. The first major update, titled the Icons Update, came on November 25th on consoles and was highlighted by the addition of two cars that should’ve been there at launch. These were cars from two of the Icons from the base game. A strange omission, considering the other three cars could be obtained in the base game. We’ll be talking about one of these two cars later.
Next came the Legends update on December 9th, which added a whole new story thread with 15 races, a and rework of the way phone calls worked.
February 3rd was the Showcase Update. This is when they finally added the ability to share wraps you’ve made with other players and police stations were finally marked on the map.
Update 1.6 came out exactly a month later on March 3rd. The Hot Rods update added two vehicles, again, one of which we’ll be discussing later, finally added a manual transmission option, and a warehouse so you can keep ten cars instead of just five.
The last major update was the Speedlists update, which came out on April 27th. Aside from Speedlists and Prestige Mode, they finally added a redline indicator to the tachometer, so that you can finally see your shift points more clearly.
Overall of these updates they added an insane amount of decals for the wrap editor, drag racing, a fair few cars, several new ways to progress through things like Prestige Mode, and more. There was a lot of content and a lot of fixes. All of it is free, and none of it is difficult to get access to. There’s no obnoxious paywall here.
Outside of the content additions, the game isn’t fundamentally different from how it was at launch. Still, some of the things that needed to be patched in over the first six months of its lifespan are baffling omissions. I still don’t quite understand why the game launched without things like a manual transmission option. To start diving deeper, let’s look at the good, because the things here that work, genuinely work extremely well.
Of course, the thing that you’re likely to notice immediately is just how fantastic the game looks. Need for Speed 2015 went for a stylish, filmic look, and it simply does it wonderfully. The resolution feels lower than it actually is on PS4, but I think they were intentionally going for a bit of a softer presentation. The effects on display can look stunning, from the abundance of bloom lighting, lens flares, depth of field usage, per-object motion blur as well as camera motion blur that makes things like the section of the road closest to the back of the car feel like it’s truly being left in the dust when at speed.
Visually I have very few complaints. The aesthetic here was very intelligently crafted to look a certain way. It kind of reminds me of the original Skate, and the effects and camera choices it made to give the impression of a skate demo tape. The cars even fairly convincingly blend into the live-action cutscenes, giving everyone’s playthrough just a touch of originality and ownership.
Speaking of, the cutscenes are also well crafted for what they are. They’re definitely cheesy as heck, though they’re honestly a lot less cringy than many of the older plots. Where Underground 2 was a story of revenge and attempted murder for some odd reason and had you occasionally racing in sponsored illegal street races on closed airfields and the like, 2015 is all about car culture in its various forms. Each character represents a different ideal, whether it’s the zen of drifting, the camaraderie of cruising together, the rush of high-speed street racing, run-ins with the law, or the obsession with building the perfect car, there’s something pure and distilled about the way this game’s story is told.
Each character idolizes a real-life figure in the world of motorsport, and the goal of your crew is to impress each of them. The characters here are very much caricatures. But it’s also clear that this is intentional. There’s an over the top goofiness to it all that’s played so straight that it’s surprisingly believable. And I think a large part of that is due to the acting. Some people… have called it terrible. Some people, also like sweet pickles. We can’t all be Nobel Prize winners. The acting here is exactly what this story needed. If you wanted something more realistic, just go watch the Need for Speed movie and realize why that struggles to work.
These actors and actresses play their parts with surprisingly earnest nuance. Aside from a few lines that nobody could deliver well, these scenes do feel genuinely like bite-sized looks into honest friendships. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I act just like this around each other. We aren’t Hollywood characters meticulously trying to drive a plot forward with our every word; we’re dorks and losers who just like hanging out and saying dumb stuff. We have our own lingo, in-jokes, and relationships. That’s what this story conveys well, and I think it does it far better than any other game in the series, and probably every other racing game of this type.
Beyond that, these scenes are shot pretty well considering the need to keep them all in the first person. Colors are nice, they know how to frame the cars and characters in the right ways, and it competently feels like a character viewpoint without being sickeningly jerky and scattershot like a real first-person view would be. It feels presentable in a way that strapping a GoPro to some guy’s forehead wouldn’t. None of this is to say that it’s worthy of sitting with the best of film, or anything close to that. But it doesn’t need to. It needs to tell a simple, stupid, fun story about car culture between friends. It does exactly that.
Still, there is one moment that I absolutely despise with all of my being, because it’s such a terrible bit of nonsense that everyone seems to parrot no matter where you go. At one point early on, the crew is talking about drifting, and Amy -the character obsessed with building cars- mentions that she can’t handle the fact that drifting requires you to bounce off of the rev limiter to do well.
Just to make this crystal clear… you do not constantly bounce off of the rev limiter if you’re drifting correctly. Go check out any examples of professional drifting and listen closely. You may hear a bump or two on the limiter here and there. You may here some wobble that sounds similar, stemming from the driver being really precise with their throttle control. But you are not supposed to be pegged past redline when drifting. Do you know what that’s telling you if you are? You’re out of powerband, and you should shift up or back off so that you can get more power to the back wheels. Sometimes you just need better throttle control. Sometimes you just need to shift up. Sometimes your car just isn’t well suited to that corner, and something like tire pressure, boost, or gearing needs to be adjusted. I’ll never understand why so many people -even hardcore car enthusiasts- still think it makes sense to smack the rev limiter all the time while drifting. But the point is major media like this game which echoes that sentiment is only making it worse.
Moving on from the presentation, load times and performance -at least on a PS4 Pro with Boost Mode enabled- are strong these days. The initial load into the game is fairly long. But after that, they’re usually only 4-10 seconds long, and most of them are completely avoidable if you just want to drive across the map instead. Meanwhile, I didn’t notice any real framerate drops that affected gameplay. This is supposed to be a huge improvement compared to the game at launch, so that’s worth noting.
Beyond that, the wrap editor is robust these days, finding decent wraps made by others is easy, car selection is varied and large, sound design is pretty darn great, the world design is just fine for racing, and the amount of content on offer even at launch was pretty acceptable. It’s only gotten even better since then. The dynamic camera is probably the most functional I’ve seen in a game with driving or racing too.
From here, I won’t pretend like there aren’t good elements to much of the rest of the game. But once you start delving into the minutia of the remaining parts of the game, it feels remarkably like a house of cards that’s shaking precariously with the breeze coming from a nearby window. And for me, that’s a house that blew over almost immediately.
So I suppose it’s best to start with some of the big picture design issues. A lot of people have commented over the years on the fact that Need for Speed 2015 is an always-online game, despite there being little need for that distinction. EA will tell you that it’s not always online because you can somehow get into solo lobbies that are effectively offline. But that ultimately doesn’t matter, because you still need to be connected to a server to get past the splash screen and play.
I personally don’t care about this too much, though that might honestly just be because I have little desire to ever replay this game again anyway. But because of this choice, there are other problems I feel get dragged along for the ride. For example, even today it’s not uncommon for both AI cars roaming the world, as well as real people to get in the way of your races. In my first playthrough, I was even teleported directly into the path of someone’s race while fast traveling. Luckily, he had just past by, so all I hit were his AI opponents.
The best part is that it’s also a problem with other types of AI. One race I did was scripted to involve the police at some point. Instead of putting the cruiser a few blocks into the event like every other race involving the police, it literally just spawned it right in front of me at the starting line.
Beyond this, if you want to play multiplayer with friends, you have to do most story events twice. These missions don’t accommodate multiple people most of the time, so when one of you wins, the other one loses. You then have to do the event again, while the previous winner sandbags so that the other person gets the victory. I struggle to understand why they couldn’t have allowed you to team up with a single friend and take on races together. Call it a throwback to Need for Speed Carbon, and it would not only solve this problem, but you could spin it as fanservice.
Now, I think it’s cool that people can challenge the entire lobby to a race, and then anyone can accept, creating an impromptu multiplayer race. But I’ve never had anyone accept when I put out the notification, and when I accept them, I’m always the only one to do so. They could’ve helped alleviate this problem by allowing players to change cars before a multiplayer race -since your cars are very much supposed to be set up for drift or speed, not both- and if you could choose lobbies exclusive for people who have beat the story. If you’ve finished the story, you have little to do but replay races, meaning people would be more likely to jump into an impromptu challenge.
What's In Your Garage
Speaking of, let’s briefly jump over to the garage and talk about visual customization. As I said earlier, Need for Speed 2015 has a good variety of cars. And they only added more as time went on, all for free. However, there’s a really unfortunate mismatch between the number of cars, the detail of the customization options, and the amount of those cars that have customization options.
Some cars have lots of visual upgrades. Some have almost none. I understand that not all manufacturers want tons of aftermarket parts represented on their vehicles. And I also understand that Ghost Games chose the trade-off of having more parts tailor-made to each car, rather than doing a bunch of clunky looking universal parts that work on every car, which is what older NFS games did. But still, I think a much better balance could’ve been struck, especially since there’s no in-game way to know how detailed the customization for a car will be until you spend potentially hundreds of thousands of credits on purchasing it.
A lot of people were initially upset that the game only gave you a handful of parking spots for these cars. Five to be exact. But this isn’t dissimilar to Need for Speed Underground 2, which everyone loves. And as I said earlier, they eventually patched in five other spaces, totaling ten cars. And you can sell and rebuy the idols cars as often as you want, meaning you don’t need to keep those in your garage either.
Honestly, I like the fact that cars are less disposable here. While you can grind in the post-game in Need for Speed 2015 (unlike Underground 2) meaning you can easily swap cars whenever you want, I appreciate that they tried to make it so that each car was viable from the beginning of the game to the end. It feels good to put twenty hours of game time into slowly building a monster. And trying to get people to build multiple types of cars, rather than just having one car that perfectly does everything is equally compelling. They struck the perfect balance here.
The problem is, the cars themselves don’t always behave like you’d think they should, putting a rather large wrench in these gears. On my first playthrough, I chose to start with the BRZ, because as a Subaru fanboy, it was required to do so by law. For those unaware, this car was co-designed by Toyota, and is intended to be a modern take on the classic AE-86 Corolla; a light car with perfect 50:50 weight distribution, and a low center of gravity that’s well suited to spry cornering and balanced drifting. My BRZ did both poorly no matter how hard I tried or what I tweaked. But at the same time, it felt too slow to really compete in speedier events, even once it had well over 700 horsepower.
This time through the game I went with a fox body Mustang, which out of the initial choices is more or less primarily a car suited to speed. And yet from the outset and every moment forward, it proved to be a better-balanced car than the BRZ. It drifted well. It cornered nicely. It had high top speeds and acceleration. This should’ve been my highway circuit race car, with the BRZ being a drift God. Instead, the BRZ was a waste, and the crotchety old Mustang Towncar Supreme was as perfect as this game could hope to be. Yeah, you heard me right fox body fans. I don’t like your car. Fight me.
Nonetheless, the core structure of the game sounds like a good idea when you factor in their intent with the garage. But boy does it have some serious issues.
Story and Events
Okay, so Need for Speed 2015 breaks itself down into five friends, with five icons they follow, and five mindsets when it comes to car culture. Manu likes drifting. Spike loves grip racing. Travis is the one who secretly pokes at the cops. Amy wants to build the perfect car. And Robyn likes racing with friends.
Manu’s events are all drift. Spike’s are all grip. Travis is a mix between running from the cops and doing grip or drift events while running from the cops. Amy does mostly grip with some drift. And Robyn does mostly drift with some grip. This in theory always gives the player something to do, and some way to progress. But it doesn’t really work out that way.
To start small, I get that people were upset with the incessant phone calls you got at launch from your crew. So through patches, they made your friends less needy. However, new texts or calls for each race category don’t come instantly now, if they ever did. So you’re basically forced to swap between different storylines or wait for calls. That’s a confusing issue considering the marketing for the game talked about racing how you want; being the driver you want to be. What if I only want to do grip races?
Obviously they still technically wanted you to do everything the game had to offer. But if you only want to drift right now, it’s obnoxious waiting for drift focused events to show up, because Robyn and Amy won’t always have one up next, meaning you have to wait for Manu to contact you. Maybe this is a mismatch between the wants of the publisher making the marketing and the developer. Maybe Ghost wanted players to switch between stories. Why would that be?
Well, because there is no global difficulty setting. The difficulty of a story event is scripted. Early races in a storyline will always be easier, and later races will always be harder. This means if you’re good at the game, the early events are boring, and if you aren’t super great, the later events can be torture. But beyond this, if you don’t do all of the storylines simultaneously, you end up having to go back to the easy events of the stories you haven’t finished and started doing them with your now massively overpowered car. Why not tailor the difficulty of an event to how many total story events I’ve completed? Or even just give me a global difficulty option? Outside of just being a huge oversight, the only reason I can think of is if Ghost wanted you to play every campaign all at once.
Most of the event types themselves are fine at least, though one of them has some serious problems. Time Attacks are short circuits that you and your opponents have a certain amount of time to do laps on. The fastest lap wins. They’re pretty hit or miss though because the lap times your opponents get seem strongly based on your own best lap, the power of your car, and the difficulty level of the race. It feels rather luck-based because it seems like there’s a lot of rubber banding in the AI lap times. It’s ridiculous considering you can be going so fast that you continue to gain ground against your opponents each lap, meaning it’s genuinely impossible for them to beat your time on each lap, and yet they’ll figure out how to do so anyway.
Outrunning cops, and by extension, the Outlaw storyline is easily the worst section of the game though. It is extremely easy to outrun the police most of the time because every time you get into a pursuit you have to start from the bottom Heat level and a single cop car. This does mean that they really won’t be a bother if you don’t want them to be. But when you do want to interface with them, it’s an arduous process where you actually spend most of your time babying them. Your best option is usually to just do laps of a single block, smacking the cop car each time you pass by them. They even kick their tail out to make it easier for you. And if you’re not doing that, then you’re daintily tapping the throttle for minutes on end to stay between 60-80 miles per hour. If you don’t intentionally go slowly, you will lose them.
Smashing them up is faster though, and the reason it works is that the cop cars are invincible. Even when you wreck during a pursuit they’re of little threat, and they’re easy to lose until heat level 4, where it gets mildly challenging. Doesn’t much matter what vehicle you’re in either, which is proven by a late-game Outlaw event that requires you to last five minutes against them in a car with less than 200 horsepower, which still isn’t even very difficult. To cap off the tedium, it’s near impossible to consistently find cops, even at police stations -which remember, weren’t marked on the map until a post-launch update- meaning I had to look up a consistent spawn point for a cop car online, and then just continuously bug him.
The only other major problem with events themselves deals with the racing line you’re meant to follow. Other than the minimap, this is the only way to know where you’re going. There are no corona’s shining into the sky at checkpoints, or arrows blinking around corners to show you where to turn. You follow the racing line on the ground. What’s so bad about this? Well, said racing line loves to randomly do things like switch lanes or sides of the road, snaking around all over the place even when your destination is straight ahead. Sometimes it does this because you really should be on a certain part of the road for an upcoming turn. Other times it seems to do it just to make the race look cool or whatever. You never quite know which it’s gonna be because a lot of the time you aren’t quite sure which way the race is headed. So you should be following it pretty closely. But these fancy lane changes can be deceptive, and needlessly lead to mistakes or even crashes.
All of the issues we’ve talked about thus far would be fine if the racing itself was fantastic. Need for Speed Underground 2 had some structural and pacing issues too that really brought things down. But the racing was generally so smooth that it didn’t matter.
So of course, you know what’s coming. Everyone say it together:
“They screwed up the racing…”
And I can sum up nearly every problem with just two words… player control.
Need for Speed 2015 has a serious obsession with controlling everything you do, and making decisions for you. Some times it’s really strange too; stuff I’ve never seen any racing game does like it was created on an alien planet. Other times it feels like corporate meddling to foster sales from what the suits at EA assume are the ‘dumb casuals’ who won’t be able to understand the complex mechanical ideas that have been in most of the best selling and highest rated Need for Speed games.
Let’s start with something really simple, and honestly pretty insignificant. When a race starts, it always shows a nifty little intro before the camera shifts to a gameplay perspective. When this is going on, the player doesn’t have control over their car. They also start in a random position in a lot of races, which I don’t quite understand either. But anyway, the AI is driving for you until the race actually begins. On rare occasions, they can make minor, stupid mistakes, or get themselves into pickles you then have to get yourself out of. On much rarer occasions they’ll do stuff like crash before the race starts, start reversing and then give you control once the race begins… while the car is still reversing. If you’re aesthetics ever get in the way of gameplay like this, they should always be made optional.
What about control schemes? Yeah, they’re really strange too. Personally, I think it’s no longer acceptable when every control isn’t remappable to any button. But Need for Speed 2015’s control schemes has other issues, owing to the fact that they had to patch in the manual gearbox.
Think about it… when you’re already using the whole controller, where do you put more controls? Well, they gave you five options. The first one puts shift up and down on the right stick, meaning your camera controls are now stuck to left and right on the d-pad. This is what I reluctantly went with. Option two… puts shift up and down… on up and down on the d-pad. How does one shift and steer simultaneously in this option? Who cares!
Option three is somewhat sensible but cramped my hands since shift up and down were put on R1 and L1 respectively, while gas and brake are still R2 and L2. Option four is gear up and down on Triangle and Circle… almost what I want, but still too far off to feel right. And option five is just option one again, but with the right and left stick reversed. Keep in mind, I spend thousands of hours in racing games. I’ve gotten used to certain control schemes for a reason… control schemes that are more or less always available in every other game, because most racing games let you have granular control. I’m not saying it’s objectively wrong that this game doesn’t include my preferred control scheme. But every option they have comes at the cost of something else, which is an issue.
Being a racing game enthusiast, I also more or less always use the manual gearbox option. Initially, these control schemes put me off so much that I said “Fine, I’ll just use an automatic instead.”. Things only got worse from there.
I don’t think the complaints about a lack of manual gearbox at the launch were solely from hardcore players who wanted the option there. I think it was also in reaction to how bad the automatic option can be a lot of time. The automatic gearbox loves to shift up, two gears at once for some reason, and sometimes it refuses to shift down unless you let go of the gas for a second. Sometimes both happen at once, meaning your car bogs down, and then you’re forced to slow down to fix the issue. It also likes to shift at really odd times, which you might initially think is something you can fix with upgrades and tinkering.
That’s when you realize that you can’t actually upgrade the transmission itself, nor modify gear ratios at all. These are the worst gear ratios I’ve ever experienced in a Need for Speed by a mile… even today, after all of the patches. The gear ratios for low and mid-tier cars often leave you with one or two useless gears at the top end that you’ll just never make it to. Likewise, the early gears are usually far too short, so you’re bouncing off of the rev limiter, spinning your wheels like an idiot to get up to speed. The funny thing is that, even though you can’t do a transmission swap, cars often mysteriously gain extra gears as they’re upgraded. Who would ever think this is a good idea? I’ve never heard of another racing game doing this, let alone one that has so many sliders to dictate how your car drives. Either do it right or let me do it myself. Naturally, I quickly went back to driving manual.
Even when the manual gearbox was added though, and even if you could deal with the goofy control schemes, there were still issues. Like the fact that it took them a while before they added the redline to the display. If you’re the type of person who looks at your tachometer to shift, well, you’d better learn to be an audio shifter instead. Granted, that’s fixed now, but it still feels like we’re left with two subpar options; and automatic transmission that doesn’t know what it’s doing, and a manual one that’s a pain to use, both of which give you no control over the gears of the car itself.
Granted, you get tons of options with pretty great nuance when upgrading your cars, despite the upgrade path still obviously being pretty linear. And as you get better parts, you have more granular control over the car’s general feel. But oftentimes it still leads to a car that physically doesn’t make any sense in terms of what it can do. I can gain tons of torque and a couple of hundred horsepower, while also getting high-end drift tires, and somehow have a harder time doing the donut collectibles than before… again, in a fox body mustang with over 700hp. I should be having a hard time not doing donuts in this car.
It might not surprise you from there to realize that steering response is sluggish as heck. Most cars in this game that I’ve used, feel more like a literal barge than a land vehicle. You can turn steering response up. It’s not enough. The character we play as must be the most casual racer of all time, who constantly has one hand on the wheel, and smoke hanging out the window on the other hand. No wonder he’s so bad at shifting as well, now that I think about it.
You can fix most of these problems if you’re willing to stick the game out a bit. Remember how I mentioned that they added two DLC cars in particular what were worth noting? Yeah, those are Ken Block’s Hoonicorn Mustang drift car, which you now get free access to at the end of Manu’s drift storyline, and the Beck Kustoms F132 open-wheel hotrod, which you can simply buy once you have the credits. These cars are absolute monsters in drift and grip respectively, and honestly, they both feel completely different to everything else in the game. When you’re in them, it feels like you’re playing a different game altogether. The problem is, they also both trivialize all of the events they’re suited to take on. They’re unequivocally the best.
I ended up trying them out by chance my first time through, and I was simultaneously elated and frustrated that the game could feel so much better, but didn’t feel this good all the time. Despite breaking the game, they feel much more competently put together than everything else. I feel much more in control of these cars than any others.
That being said, they still exhibit one last problem… the mother of all problems in this game… the unacceptable, final bit of control ripped from players, which you have no option to turn off.
Need for Speed 2015… steers your car for you.
On my first playthrough, I initially started noticing this on drift events. The car sometimes felt like it was gliding in directions I didn’t want it to, and would often lock up at odd times. I made sure to turn all of the drifting assists and such off, but the drifting seemed to still primarily consist of powerslides, where you break the back end loose and turn into the corner the whole time. “Real” drifting sees the driver counter steering instead. The power delivered to the back end of the car tries to push the car into the corner, and you steer the wheels away from the corner so that you don’t spin out.
After a while though, I realized that the car was counter-steering… without my input. Even with the assists off, it was stabilizing my drifts. But not just drifts. Any time the back end slides in the least bit, the game is taking control way to keep the car stable. This already goes against what makes these games worth playing for so many people. We play them to test our skills, and to push ourselves to the limit in a safe environment. Especially when you have assist options that can be toggled off, there is absolutely no excuse to have such severe steering assistance like this always enabled. But it gets infinitely worse when you realize that this system is not stable.
That’s right, the system itself doesn’t even really function terribly well, regularly forcing the player car to do things that lead to mistakes and crashes. Both of my playthroughs of this game were almost nothing but me fighting these systems to keep the car under control. Sometimes the game freaks out and steers the wrong way. Other times it just stops steering and I lose control completely for a second or two. Still, other times it decides I shouldn’t lose grip while flicking the car and hitting the e-brake, so I just turn straight into a wall. It’s such a strange sensation to have the control of the car ripped from you like this as if you’re suddenly in a hovercraft, or someone is yanking at the steering wheel.
This honestly makes me apprehensive to try Need for Speed Payback or Heat. I don’t see anyone else mentioning this issue; it’s as if it doesn’t exist to the rest of the world. So how can I be sure it doesn’t exist in future titles, without potentially wasting money?
Need for Speed 2015 has a great game underneath. No, a fantastic game. But the problems it has continue to amaze me, with just how far they drag everything down. I’ve gotten maybe three or four hours of real fun out of this title, despite spending around 50 hours in it. A lot of that time I was almost genuinely enjoying myself, but something was still annoying me just a bit, like a mosquito buzzing around my ear. But that’s just not good enough. I know Ghost Games is capable of better. And I really hope they can deliver. Because this ain’t it, chief.
But what d’you guys think? Have you played Need for Speed 2015? How do you think it compares to the other games in the series? Have you had any of the problems I described here? Sound of in the comments below, and if you want to see visual examples of a lot of these issues, check out the video review!
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