The long awaited Need for Speed: The Run puts you once again in the driver’s seat as you evade the mob, get chased by cops, and participate in a grueling cross-country race from San Francisco to New York.
The Wii Need for Speed: The Run game has been a long time coming. It’s been in the works since Need for Speed: Undercover was released in 2008, and the TV ad campaign for the game near its impending debut even had Michael Bay as the director. While the hype and the directing skills of Michael Bay can be called overwhelming, the game, unfortunately, is not.
The storyline of the Wii version is slightly different from those of the other consoles, but nonetheless all of them follow the same general plot. In the Wii version, you play as Matt, a poor soul who has found himself on the bad side of both the police and an organized crime syndicate. What he did to arrive in this hopeless situation is never fully revealed, but the game begins by showing Matt locked in a car and pushed over a bridge onto the water below by some thugs. He escapes by breaking the car window and is greeted on dry land by a smoking, red-haired babe who then lends him her car and takes off with him. They then join “The Run”, an illegal race across the country with an enormous prize money.
In terms of gameplay, Need for Speed: The Run certainly knows its stuff. Racing is exhilirating and challenging, involving numerous twists and turns, hidden shortcuts, rival drivers, and the occasional cop cars that try to block your path. The now familiar nitrous oxide is present once again so that you can unleash its accelerating energy and leave everyone in the dust. In addition, stunts can be performed when your car hits an inclined plane and you go airborne. The feeling of speed is also well-simulated, making the surroundings appear blurry the faster you go, and leaving a streak of your taillights behind.
The game starts you off in San Francisco as you wind your way through the streets and eventually race on the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond. The wonderful thing is that numerous real-life locations and roadways are present including The Rockies, Yosemite National Park, and New York City where the culminating battle is held. You begin in last place as the 150th driver and slowly make your way to first in the events and races that follow. Usually, they involve the same old Need for Speed style where you race alongside other drivers in various locations – often with heavy city traffic – and occasionally come across police cars who try to stop you. However, there are also other modes such as versus battles with a rival.
Unfortunately, Need for Speed: The Run Wii game lacks enough content to really stand out. The storyline is generic, and the manner in which it’s told involves comic book panels that have cheesy voiceover dialogue. The soundtrack mostly contains lots of fast paced beats and synthesizers. It provides the necessary background noise to keep your heart racing, but it’s far from spectacular. You also receive various car models as you progress, but the lack of customization features is depressing, especially for a Need for Speed title.
Races are straightforward and exhilarating, but it gets repetitious soon, even with the different track locations. Unfortunately, (or should I say fortunately?) the game is short and can be completed in a few hours. Once the campaign is over, various challenges can be undertaken for extended play, but overall the game doesn’t hold up well for long term entertainment.
Need for Speed: The Run can be played on the Wii console with the standard Wii remote or Nunchuk. There is no online play available for the Wii version, but it has multiplayer split-screen.
Need for Speed: The Run is an above average racing game, but as a title under the Need for Speed banner, it pales in comparison to other games in the franchise. Although it does offer new options and innovations, and the action can be quite intense at times, the game can be completed in a few hours and has little to offer in terms of extra content. You might want this to complete your Need for Speed collection, but we’ve certainly seen better ones before this.