Playing Need For Speed: The Run helped us answer several burning questions. What happens when a BMW M3 sideswipes an RV at 160 mph? Can a Nissan GT-R outrun a police car? How far can you jump a Volkswagen Scirocco? Suffice it to say that the game is not so much a driving simulator as an escapist arcade game.
The basic premise behind The Run is simple: your character is part of a 3000-mile unsanctioned race on public roads from Los Angeles to New York City. In each stage of the game you must either pass a specific number of opponents or rush through checkpoints in the prescribed time limits in order to continue. Occasionally, police roadblocks or natural occurrences like dust storms will slow your progress. If you fall behind other racers, simply tap the nitrous button -- your supply of go-fast gas automatically refills as you drive.
The race campaign has a shallow learning curve, and ample “rewind” functions let you skip backward if you overcook a turn or fall too far behind competitors. In addition to The Run itself, there are a variety of challenge races that take place on tracks previously covered in story mode.
Traversing the country during the course of The Run means you drive in a variety of terrain, encompassing everything from bustling city centers to winding mountain roads. The selection of cars is likewise expansive, spanning everything from a Datsun 280Z to the Chevrolet Camaro SS, and from the BMW 1 Series M Coupe to a Lamborghini Aventador. Unfortunately, neither that scenery nor the game’s wide variety of cars are rendered in spectacular fashion. Aside from some clever lighting effects for dawn races, The Run looks more cartoonish than other modern racing games like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport.
While The Run is huge fun and a seriously addictive game, it’s more of an arcade-like diversion than a serious driving simulator. Players are awarded bonuses for side-swiping police cars, swerving though oncoming traffic, or “drifting” by pulling the handbrake. The in-game cars have ludicrous amounts of grip in turns, and even exotic sports cars can take dirt-road shortcuts at 100 mph or more. Finally, some brief sections of the game require you to mash certain button combinations to punch police officers after being apprehended at a roadblock.
Frankly, we prefer driving games that require players to master driving dynamics and corner apexes. However, Need For Speed: The Run is still a fun game that quickly draws players into its fast-paced story. If you just want to have fun driving high-performance cars from the comfort of your couch, The Run is a great video game choice.