Electronic Arts is clearly ready for the move to next-gen with their two upcoming games, Need for Speed: Rivals and Peggle 2.
Their long running sports franchises, brand new IP’s, and sequels to hit games are moving along quite nicely to the Xbox One and PS4. I sat down with two EA games in particular that gave me a sneak peak at what’s to come for fans of Need for Speed and Peggle. First up is the next open world, “wild racers vs. the law” entry in the NFS series – Need for Speed: Rivals. After we’re done smashing into rivals and dodging spike strips, we’re heading over to a much brighter fantasy land with the puzzle-laden Peggle 2.
Need for Speed: Rivals
The Need for Speed games have covered a wide variety of different focuses for racing enthusiasts – traditional lap races, underground street racing, simulation style racers, cinematic blockbuster like plots/gameplay, etc. Some of these attempts to deviate from the norm of racing games have been successful, while some have fallen flat on their face. The last entry in the series, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, featured a fun mix of open world exploration and hectic road struggles between the cops and your souped up ride. The upcoming sequel, Need for Speed: Rivals, is continuing with that tradition.
Rivals keeps the open world theme alive and makes your stomping grounds a lot more livelier. Your choice of gameplay can revolve around becoming a street racer or a heavy duty police officer with a powerful set of cop cars. As a street racer, you’ll perform familiar tasks as you drive around the huge world map – participating in impromptu races, fending off police cars during epic pursuits, landing special stunt jumps littered around the map and topping your friends’ scores. The side of the law lets you choose from a vast amount of powerful automobiles, which are used to chase down race cars during some heated events. The cops have some sweet weaponry on their side, which makes those chasing missions way more action packed. Both sides are equal in the fun department, since top speeds and epic crashes pop up during both campaigns.
The multiplayer gets a substantial upgrade thanks to the power of the Xbox One and PS4. Other racers can enter your world and vice versa. Checking out the overall map displays a ton of information that will keep you up to speed on what your friends are doing. If a race is going down, feel free to hop in anytime. If you’re driving as the po-po and you see a fellow cop on the tail of someone, you can take it upon yourself to offer some assistance. There aren’t any menus to navigate if you’re looking to head online – the “AllDrive” option brings you into multiplayer right away. Players are free to play the game by themselves if they choose, plus the game’s A.I. does a good job of replicating human players anyway. Autolog’s cool multiplayer features also make a welcome return for the competitive types out there.
The graphics simply look amazing. Each of the rides have a nice polish and sheen to them that’s hard to ignore. The countryside locale, deep tunnels and changing weather physics all add up to a sleek looking game. The crashes are epic and the sounds of screeching tires and police sirens lend plenty of excitement to the proceedings. I played both the PC and PS4 versions of the game, which both look incredible. I gotta hand the graphical advantage over to Sony’s next-gen box, though.
Need for Speed: Rivals is going to be the premier racing game you’ll want to have on your next-gen console once it drops on both the Xbox One and PS4 at launch. Xbox 360, PS3 and PC owners can start racing a little earlier come November 15, 2013.
I’ve never had the pleasure of playing the first Peggle. After sitting down for an hour or so with its Xbox One exclusive sequel, I can see why gamers became so enamored with the series. This colorful mix of Breakout and Pachinko is puzzle gaming at its finest.
So what’s the whole premise of Peggle 2? Well, each hub world plays host to a different theme. Each of the levels contained within each world features different stage setup’s. Your mission on each stage entails clearing out the red pegs with your moving ball. You can aim the ball with your ball launcher for every turn once your ball heads into a bottomless pit. Hitting the blue pegs grants you more points, while hitting the green pegs lets you use special character abilities. Things start to get addictive as you clear pegs and drop your ball inside a moving platform at the bottom of the stage for extra balls. The combo opportunities and extra missions (example – reach a certain high score or clear a certain number of blue pegs) increases the game’s replay factor to extreme levels.
I got to experience the game’s first few themed stages with three separate characters – Bjorne (a Unicorn), Berg (a dancing Sasquatch) and Luna (a Gothic, zombie girl). Bjorne’s hub world is stationed in the Peggle Institute, a bright wonderland that’s pulled out of your favorite fairy land. Bjorne’s special ability lets you see where your ball’s going to land during its first two hits. Berg takes refuge in the Winter Blunderland, an icy tundra that’s reminiscent of Santa’s homeland. Berg can freeze the stage, which slows down the ball and makes it much easier to hit those hard-to-reach red pegs. As for Luna, her Gravely Grove home is a dark graveyard that’s Halloween-esque. She can transform into a creature called Nightshade, who has one of the coolest abilities in the game. Blue balls become transparent, which paves the way for hitting red pegs much easier. Even if your ball passes through the transparent blue pegs, you’ll still get the points you usually produce after hitting them.
The game’s cheerful graphics bring out the personalities of each character perfectly. During great turns, each character will move and express their happiness through several animations. If things start to take a turn for the worse, they’ll also display their discomfort with the situation. Berg’s winning animation is the best one I’ve seen so far – he shakes his derriere at the screen, which is blurred out for safety’s sake. Nothing is static about this game since everything reacts to how you’re currently playing.
Peggle 2 will make its way to the Xbox One as the exclusive puzzler you need to play.