Written by  :  Zamppa (102)
Written on  :  Jun 13, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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The Need For Speed series returns to it's roots...

The Good

The first Need For Speed was ironically the best in the series until the fifth version was published... Mainly because it had the feeling in it, and another good thing was the track design. You had enough difference so that you could drive for a long while without getting bored. Especially the segment tracks with traffic were very good.

After the first part, the quality has been going down rapidly, number three of the series hitting the rock bottom... So I had no real expectations for the fifth version, and I had even less after I heard it will be with only a Porsche license. I was expecting another game with rotten and boring gameplay.

I was wrong.

When I first drove NFS5, I was dumbfounded. The game looked good, it sounded good(the musics are awesome!!) and, most importantly the driveability is great! The game has many gaming modes and all of them are fun to play, especially the two campaigns.

Let's make a deeper look into the mechanics of the game: The graphics engine was rebuilt after number four, and it offers great graphics with a lot of detail and a good framerate. If you can play the game with best graphic options, you will be amazed. At least I was... The tracks are well designed and the sceneries look great. I was especially impressed by Normandie. The track is basically a road going through big fields. You can see to a very long distance, and it looks realistic.

The sounds are awesome. Different cars have different sounds and they sound realistic(you know, that unique sound that only Porsche's air-cooled rear engines have...). A special note on the musics: They are probably the best pieces of music in computer game world. They rise the feeling of driving into a completely new level. Especially the songs "Funky Phreakout" and "Rezidue" are absolute pearls that I listen to outside the game world.

As I mentioned, the driveability is probably the most important part of a game, and this game has it. The feeling is a successful mix between arcade and simulation. The slides are not the fastest way to go the corners, but it's damn sure the funniest. Especially with the older rear-engined 911's you have to learn the driveability. If you let the gas pedal rise, the rear end starts slipping, and it can only be corrected by pushing the pedal to the metal. Otherwise you are going to spin. The other cars are not as fun to drive as 911s, but the driving seems realistic and is still not as hard as a real car.

All this is bundled up with absolutely brilliant track and car designs. The tracks are generally fun to drive and still very challenging to master. They are really different from each other. The cars are even better, as they have very much difference, for example between the first 356 with 1100cc engine from VW Beetle and the fastest car in the game, the mighty 911 GT1.

Completing the nearly perfect design, there are the two campaign modes: The Evolution, where you compete in different cups and win money for new cars for 50 years(not literally). You can customize your cars(buy better parts for the engines, better tyres, gearboxes and more). In Factory driver you get to be a Porsche test driver and do some missions. The missions are different from one another but basically the main idea is to drive from point A into point B. It's still fun, though.

The Bad

The game would be perfect, but there are a few stupidities in it.

First of all, there are bugs in the otherwise great physics engine. Sometimes the car rolls in tight corners, which doesn't make any sense(although I've seen this happen in real life).

Another point, there's really not much to do outside the campaign modes. The single races are boring, the knockout races are not fun either and there's no real championship.

Finally, the skill level is not high enough. There should be more skill option, as currently I usually can win any race whenever I want to.

The Bottom Line

I'll admit it, the game has a few stupidities in it. But I don't really care. The game offers real entertainment for a long time. The overall design is good and the value for a car fanatic is more than just a game. After all, you get to see what the older porsches look like in virtual reality. All this is covered with excellent gameplay and even better music. Porsche Unleashed is the best published Need For Speed yet, and I think it will be for a long time.