The Need for Speed 2
The Need for Speed 2 is the follow-up to perhaps the best arcade racing game to come along in several years. In order to fully understand this review, you must separate in your mind arcade racers like this one from racing simulations. Racing sims are aiming to provide the most realistic driving experience imaginable. Some -- like Papyrus' NASCAR 2 -- are so detailed that you may spend as much time configuring your car as racing. Not so with the Need for Speed games. The main point here is to drive ... and win. The true test of this sequel, then, will be a direct comparison to its predecessor. And trying to improve upon a great game is a daunting task indeed.
The best thing about the original Need for Speed is its wildness. How exhilarating it is to whip around a corner and smash into an RV head-on, flipping bumper-over-bumper ten times before you come to a rest (then having the option to watch the whole thing on your replay video). Of course, it's better when your friend passes you first -- then you watch him get thrashed and flip over your head as you continue on to win the race. But either way you end up laughing your guts out at the sheer craziness and excitement of the whole experience.
Unfortunately, Need for Speed 2 tones down the fun recklessness. It's harder to flip your car in NFS 2, and when you do manage it, you'll maybe flip once or twice and then start over with a fresh set of wheels. Remember in Need for Speed when you crashed head-on and you got a great side view camera shot of your car flipping and flipping off into the sunset? You'll miss it here, no doubt about that. It seems like the designers of Need for Speed 2 went for a little more realism, but the result is a little less fun.
The feel of driving the cars is fairly similar to that in the original, with a few notable exceptions. The handling of the cars in general is more touchy, and it's frustratingly easy to spin out (and then spin out again trying to correct yourself). I don't like to spin out, especially in a close race. Not to say this wasn't an issue with NFS, but there it was more a matter of getting back on the road and out of the rough, not figuring out which way you should be going. Granted, NFS 2 includes a warning light that blinks if you head the wrong way, but why should you need it?
Yet perhaps my biggest disappointment with NFS 2 was its complete lack of road courses. In the original, you had a few tracks, and then you had the roads (Alpine, City, Coast). I had a lot more fun driving the roads, especially in a head-to-head match with oncoming traffic. You can choose to have oncoming traffic in the NFS 2 tracks, but it's not the same. Another great thing about the roads was that the race developed over three stages, giving you a chance to take a breather and/or plot a strategy or means of revenge in between stages. You can't do that in a track race.
Enhanced, no doubt about it. This is really the only major revision that stood out enough to get my attention. Of course, the graphics in the original NFS were outstanding for its day (two years ago!), but NFS 2 benefits from technological advances since that time. The overall look is crisper, the animation smoother, the colors richer, and the details more noticeable, even on my lowly Diamond Stealth 64. The only bad part is that there are no pixelated deer standing by the side of the road for you to try to turn into roadkill (didn't anyone ever make a patch that would allow you to hit those deer in the NFS Alpine track?!).
This is EA we're talking about, so as you can guess, the sound is outstanding. Great quality, rocking music, and I swear that when I was driving the Isedra, the squeals from my tires were eerily in harmony with the ethereal background music...
Nice illustrations, a fairly thorough description of game options, but nothing else worth mentioning.
90 MHz Pentium™ class processor (Intel, Cyrix 6x86), 16 MB RAM, Windows® 95, Direct X 3.0 (included on game CD), 4X CD-ROM drive (600KB/second transfer rate), Hi Color (65,535 color) capable 1 MB PCI video card with DirectDraw 3.0 compatible driver, hard disk -- 10 MB plus space for save games (additional space required for DirectX 3.0 installation), keyboard.
Reviewed on: P-120, 32 MB RAM, 16X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 64 video
The crisp graphics and excellent sound make Need for Speed 2 a solid game by anybody's standards. Nevertheless, prepare to be a little disappointed with the gameplay if you're a big fan of the original Need for Speed. If you've never played the original and are looking for a fun head-to-head arcade racer, you may want to start with Need for Speed and wait a while on the sequel.
Download The Need for Speed 2
Last year's smash hit racing game now has a sequel: 8 new cars, new international tracks, new graphics, arcade and simulation modes, and car customization are all highlights of this second generation title. But does this game live up to the reputation of the orginal Need for Speed, or will it leave you wanting more?
The first Need for Speed was solid. It had cool tracks, cars that were available to the general public, and decent gameplay. The graphics were decent and the game was downright fun. With Need For Speed II, I was really excited about the possibilities. All they needed to do for this game to be a success was to add a few new cars, some new tracks, clean up the graphics a tad, and tighten the controls. No problem, right? Apparently not. In fact, the sequel falls far short of the strengths of the original game.
Let's start off with the cars. The thing I liked about the original game was that the cars were not untouchable. Sure, they were all big dollars, but I had seen every one of the cars on the road at least once. Then there are the cars in NFSII. You can choose between a McLaren F1, Ferrari F50, Lotus GT1, Italdesign Cala, Isdera Commendatore 112i, Jaguar XJ220, Ford GT90, and Lotus Esprit V8. Not only have I never seen any of these cars, I have never even heard of half of them. I guess it does not matter whether I have seen these cars in everyday life or not. That adds to the fantasy of video gaming. But I thought it was neat to be able to identify with the cars in the orginal Need for Speed.
Since you are probably not familiar with the cars, you can watch a video of the car in action or view still shots of the vehicle. Unfortunately, this was also done better in the original game. The videos are short and didn't really show the cars very much. They reminded me of the little MTV commercials that are 15-30 seconds long and don't really show much of anything. The still shots were better. You did get a good view of the car from different angles.
The best part about NFS2 is the different tracks. They ranged from oval raceways to longer tracks taking you through small towns or desert scenes. The tracks had a good variety of straight-aways and turns, and most were also quite lengthy so your laps would take some time to complete. Also, on some tracks, there were bumps placed strategically in the road that would let you catch some serious air. This was cool at first, but became rather annoying when this started happening around corners. If you are in the process of turning and hit one of these, it is almost guaranteed that your car will spin through the air like a helicopter blade.
On the negative side, I found the control to be completely lacking. The game has two modes of gameplay. They are Arcade and Simulation. Arcade mode allows for power sliding and your car sticks to the road better. Simulation mode is more true to the capabilities and handling of the cars. While there was a difference in some area between the two modes, one area shared a common problem: braking. In Arcade mode, if you used either your brake or hand brake, your car would violently jerk in the direction you are turning, almost as if you had a tire blow out. You spent more time trying to correct the car and that almost inevitably would cause you to overcompensate. Once you were overcompensating, it took everything you had to get going in the right direction. In Simulation mode, this problem only occurs when using the hand brake. If you use the regular brake, you will keep heading in the direction you are facing. I did find that the best way to compensate for the braking was to use walls, buildings, and guardrails to help me corner. Sure, it slowed me down, but it was no worse than trying to pull out of a fish tail.
Despite all the problems I had braking, I will say that the steering control was tight. The car would go where you told it to on straight-aways which was vital'you do a lot of passing at high speed. There were times that I passed within centimeters of other vehicles and did not hit them. If the steering were as bad as the braking, the game would be almost unplayable.
The game was not all that bad. Once you did get the hang of things and made adjustments, like using walls to help you turn, you could actually find some of the fun that made the first game a success. The AI of the computer-controlled cars was not bad, and they were definitely competitive on the Advanced setting. More than once, I had a competitor car give me a tap that would send me spinning. The computer was definitely no push over.
Need for Speed II offered three modes of play, and I found one to be quite enjoyable. The modes are Single Race, which is just a race on the track of your choice. The second was the Tournament. This was a collection of all of the tracks, in which you have to finish first on the first track before you can advance to the second and so on. Third, and the one I liked best, was the Knockout mode. All you had to do was not come in last to advance to the next race. Sounds easy enough. But at the end of each race, the loser drops out so the number of cars is reduced by one. This reduces your odds until it comes down to you against the computer. If you win, you open up a bonus track.
One last thing: I found that I would still only use a few of the same higher-end cars. The lower end cars were so inferior, almost by 50 MPH, it was difficult to stay competitive while using these.
Is it possible to actually make graphics look worse in a sequel? Let me answer that question for you. Yes, it is possible, as evidenced in this game. I was really disappointed. It looked like the scenery was moving around you instead of you moving through it. This took away any feeling of speed at all. Also, the car graphics while you were racing were pitiful-looking. They all looked similar and bland. In the original game, the cars were all pretty decent, but NFSII is almost embarrassing.
The tracks all looked good even though the scenery was a bit bland. Going through tunnels and the forests was actually decent-looking. I just had such high expectations since this was a second generation game, and it was just not what I expected.
This game is one of those instances where the original is better than the sequel. The difficult cornering really made the game frustrating to play and left me wanting more. The tracks were all so well-designed that if the control was better, it would have overshadowed the poor graphics and the pitiful-looking cars. This game will disappoint even hardcore Need for Speed fans.
Dwarfing the exotic cars that made Need for Speed so alluring, Need M's gunning its engines with an eye-pop-ping lineup of million-dollar supercars. Drivers can redline their engines at speeds over 230 mph in beauties like the McLaren F1, ItalDesign Cala, Lotus Espirit, Lotus Elite GT, and Isdera Commendatore. The action goes down on eight circuits across the world, and all the courses sport much more 3D interaction, such as cutting corners down mountain switchbacks. Topping it all off, a major graphical facelift gives the cars and tracks much greater detail and realism. Need M's already lookin' awesome....
Electronic Arts racing title based on the Knowledge of the experts from Road & Track returns for a second course in Need for Speed 2 for the Sony PlayStation. In this second version, players are given more courses in which to use their driving talents. It is also expected to contain updated versions of the exotic cars seeing that many from the first release are no longer even in production. Willi the fandom that Need for Speed created for itself with its realistic control anti car movements, it's no wonder this one has had a tight lid on its production. We'll have more information for you as it becomes available to EGM.
- MANUFACTURER - Electronic Arts
- THEME - Racing