I almost feel sorry for the employees of Electronic Arts, specifically their “Black Box” division. For a short time, they were creating brand new games every year—an exceedingly difficult and stressful task. It’s no wonder the creations from this time period were full of bugs at the time of release, and had almost no plot or fun involved. In the Need for Speed series of games, they’ve had a couple successes, however, such as Most Wanted or Hot Pursuit 2. Unfortunately these are far outweighed by the failures.
This year, they released another one. It’s called The Run, and it’s essentially supposed to involve a high-speed race across the country while being chased by the police and “the mob.” On the surface, it seems like a great idea, as it takes what was learned from 2010’s Hot Pursuit (which was developed by the same studio which created the Burnout series) and applies it to something a bit less Burnout-like. However, if one were to scratch a little deeper at the surface, a whole world of problems would appear.
First, there is the nature of the challenges. The goal of the game is to go from 250-something to first place while racing from San Francisco to New York City, with the entire trip split into distinct stages, which are then split into small challenges. Some of these challenges were actually interesting—for example, outrunning an avalanche in Colorado was a bit of an adrenaline rush. However, after the thousandth “Overtake eight opponents” challenge and hundredth “Make up time” challenge, I was getting a bit bored.
In addition to that, frustration also arose because opponents would always, always, always be in the way, and I lost many challenges simply because I kept running into the back of them. Some may say it’s a racing game and it’s supposed to be like that, but the fact of the matter is they can be in a much slower car yet keep up with and even rapidly overtake, but I can’t, even at full speed. This is about all that’s wrong with the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, but the PC version of the game has an entire universe of problems and bugs.
First, there are the constant crashes for no particular reason whatsoever. They appear during races, they appear right after races, they appear in the menu, they appear when saving, they appear when loading, etc., etc. It’s extremely frustrating when a huge challenge is completed only to have the game crash before it has the chance to save.
Another annoying bug is how custom controls or display or game settings revert back to default for some reason after a restart of the game, which means I’ll often start a race only to realize that my controls are something completely different than what I had set them to.
However, by far and away the biggest annoyance of the PC version of The Run was the graphics. Those who played 2010’s Hot Pursuit may remember that it looked incredible, and that the PC version didn’t lag a horrible amount despite its amazing looks. The Run looks worse than Hot Pursuit did, and it lags like no other game I’ve played before. My computer isn’t weak or underpowered, by any means, but I can’t even play it on minimum settings without everything slowing down to a crawl. I shudder to think of all the poor teenagers with $500 computers who purchase the game only to discover they can’t enjoy it simply on the basis of the lag.
This bug is the biggest killer of the PC version, and for that reason alone I would rather saw one of my own legs off than play it again and experience the mind-numbing lag. Overall, I’d give the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions a 6.5/10, and the PC version an abysmal 3.5/10 because of the numerous bugs which plague it like the Black Plague of England. It’s an affront to one of the longest running and one of the most recognizable series of racing games on the planet, and deserves to be tossed into a steaming pool of lava rather than installed on a hard drive.