reviews\ Aug 10, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Need for Speed World Review


If six years ago you would have told me that Need for Speed was downloadable for free, and was playable with thousands of people online, I would have jumped up and down with glee. Nowadays, free-to-play games are commonplace and the luster of the genre is wearing thin. While it is rare for a popular franchise such as Need for Speed to take that plunge into free gaming, the question has to be asked: Is it totally free?

It's hard to pass judgment Need for Speed World since it often presents itself as if it was still in beta. It's safe to say that Need for Speed fans will immediately recognize the traditional features that they grew up on, but it's definitely a tough sell since it requires micro-transactions to receive the full experience.

Starting out, players have $30,000 to spend on six different cars, which are all generic filler. From that point, players are thrust into a free roaming world that resembles a mixture of Most Wanted and Undercover. Players are free to drive around with other people, but if they hope to progress and level up (it is an MMO after all) they have to enter races.

Depending on how much players want to explore the world of NFSW, race events can either be driven or teleported to for single-player or multiplayer affairs. Assuming you have a steady internet connection, the driving if often spot-on.

The only minor graphical annoyance, which is standard when it comes to online racing games, is that opponent cars in front seem to jitter a bit. It’s understandable since the game has to sacrifice the fluid animation of opponents and give it to the player, but after recent console gaming endeavors, it’s definitely an odd sight to see.

Once players start racing, it’s immediately apparent that the developers borrowed ideas from Mario Kart, and mixed it in with NFSW. No, players won’t be shooting down opponents with green shells, but they will have amusing power-ups at their disposal. Nitrous is now treated like a power up and charges must be purchased and equipped. Other power-up examples include the Traffic Magnet, which makes all traffic attracted to the opponent directly in the front; the Juggernaut, which makes you a force to be reckoned with, knocking out traffic and opponents.

Leveling up comes in the form of earning money, which basically amounts to experience points, after every race. Everything from unlocking races, upgrades, and tiers of cars depends on the player's level. Upgrading cars, however, isn’t as customizable as it was on the consoles. Instead of picking each part separately, upgrades come in packages that progressively make the specific car better.

Ready for the bad news? Though it is technically free to play, to experience the full game, players have to spend some serious green that potentially turns it into a full retail title. Once players reach level 10, they are stuck at that level unless they buy the starter pack for $20. This is a shame, because even though other free MMO’s have premium shops, they don’t require a player to spend money in order to experience the game.

Need for Speed World is the classic franchise at heart. A fairly big open world to drive around in, many races to participate and dominate, and spot on racing with impressive graphics make this free MMO definitely one to look into. Keep in mind that the word "free" has a huge asterisk next to it.

Above Average

About The Author
Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @Michael_GZ
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