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on November 19, 2013
First off, I was very excited for this game. I've enjoyed all of the recent open-world Need for Speed games and I've been with the series since NFS II over a decade ago. I wanted to try this one because it got pretty decent reviews and looked good. I was eager to try a Frostbite game other than Battlefield, too.

Contrary to a previous review, this game DOES run on Windows 8. However, Need for Speed Rivals suffers from being an EXTREMELY POOR PC port. The game is simply missing a lot of the eye candy that is present in the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game. I'm running max settings at 2560x1440, and it still looks awful compared to the next generation consoles. This should NOT be the case on PC; in fact, it's unacceptable that in this day and age a PC game on max settings would look worse than it does on less-powerful consoles. The fancy bloom lighting from the PS4 version is missing, for example, and there is no option to turn on anti-aliasing (despite the fact that Frostbite has a great FXAA implementation that barely impacts performance at all) so all the jaggies look awful.

Worst of all, the game is capped at 30 frames per second, maximum. This is an absolute deal-breaker for me. What other modern 3D PC game is artificially capped at 30 frames per second? I have a very powerful gaming PC (Core i7-980X at 4.6 and dual GTX Titans) which is more than capable of running Battlefield 4 at maximum settings at over 60 frames per second with supersampling AA turned up a bit, and that game is running on the same Frostbite 3 engine that this game is. Why should I have to be locked to 30 frames per second? Unlocking the FPS cap through launch commands messes the game up and everything ends up going along at 2x speed. It seems like the game was coded with the 30 fps cap in mind, so I'm not optimistic that it can be patched to run at 60 fps. NVIDIA hasn't updated their SLI profiles for this game yet, but I don't even need it since a single GTX Titan is more than enough to run the game at 30 fps (with HBAO on and all maximum settings at my resolution, it's running at about 50% GPU utilization on ONE GPU right now). Worst of all, the 30 fps that the game does run at seems quite choppy, probably because of the frame pacing issues that have been reported with this game, which present themselves even with SLI turned off.

I really wish I could return this game to Amazon but I'm not sure what their return policy on game codes is. I'll update this review if EA patches the game to be better... the gameplay looks great but at 30 choppy frames per second the game is barely playable to me. If I do manage to get my money back, I MIGHT go for the PS4 version of this game, since I'm still a huge Need for Speed fan, but I'm reluctant to encourage EA's poor PC porting efforts (I'd rather have 1080p rather than 1440p than all these jaggies, and the game is locked to 30 fps on both platforms anyway) by buying yet another copy of the game. With EA pushing Origin on the PC, I was hoping they'd put more effort into making their PC games better. For now, it seems like the only EA studio that really cares about the PC experience is DICE, but I have a feeling that's just because that's where all their core customers are.

PC specs:
Windows 8.1 Pro
Rampage III Extreme
Intel Core i7-980X @ 4.6 GHz
EVGA GTX Titan SC SLI @ 1175 MHz core/7000 MHz mem
24 GB DDR3-2000 @ 2000 MHz

UPDATE 2: Someone discovered a way to unlock the FPS to 60 fps while also doubling simulation speed: Right click the game in Origin, click "game properties" and set the "command line arguments" field to "-GameTime.MaxSimFps 60 -GameTime.ForceSimRate 60.0" This, combined with the fact that you can enable anti-aliasing through the NVIDIA control panel for this game (and presumably this should work with the AMD Catalyst control panel too - though I can't test this), makes this game bearable. The game is still poorly coded and I still doubt that can be changed very easily - frame rate is always still locked to game simulation speed, so if your computer can't sustain a solid 60 fps all the time, then your game will start to run slow as soon as the frame rate dips. But at least now you can have 60 fps gameplay provided you have a powerful enough computer. I'm going to keep the rating at what it is until Ghost Games acknowledges and patches the issue.

UPDATE: This was worse than I thought. I forced some anti-aliasing on in the NVIDIA control panel to play around (which works - FXAA and a bit of MSAA added in don't appear to break anything) and, after turning it up, found out that it appears *THE GAME ACTUALLY RUNS IN SLOW MOTION IF YOUR FRAME RATE DROPS BELOW 30 FPS.* That's right, folks. It appears that the speed at which the game simulates the world depends entirely on the frame rate. 30 fps = real time. 15 fps = half speed. 60 fps = double speed. If your computer is slow and runs the game at 20 fps, the world - your car, everything - dips to 2/3 speed. If you uncap the frame rate and run the game locked at 60 fps, the world will run at 2x speed. If you have a lot of cars and particles on screen and your frame rate dips to 25 fps, your car in game will take longer to get from 0 to 60. How this works with multiplayer racing, I have no idea.

The people at Ghost Games have, for whatever reason, violated one of the core tenants of modern game programming: don't base your game world simulation on frame rate. In normal games, the physics, AI, etc. simulations run in real time independently of frame rate - that is, the car should accelerate from 0 to 60 in the same amount of time regardless of whether you're getting 5 fps or 120 fps. I don't understand why they made this design decision. This is speculation, but I'm not very confident they can fix it with patches unless they do a costly rewrite of large swaths of the game - mitigate some of the issues, maybe, but how you run the world simulation is such an integral part of the game engine.
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on November 22, 2013
Racing game where you can't use a Racing Wheel!! Impressive! Glad to know they have the brightest minds working to create these games and forgetting the obvious! Brilliant!

Don't Buy If You Use A Wheel!
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on November 24, 2013
Sadly a big flop... The game has been very badly adopted for the pc user. There is a noticeable in-game lag in the frame rate and after a few minutes of playing and completing the first couple of races, I realized that this is just hopeless. Because of the frame rate, the control of the vehicle becomes near impossible as you can not perceive your input with a stuttering in-game video. playback. At the moment I am on Season 8 or racing on the Grid 2 - and in my opinion a superb game with the most intuitive, realistic and controllable steering physics model, that I have played in a few years. It's sad, but it seems EA Need for Speed Series has gone down hill in recent years and with that inevitably, the company is going to loose its 'pc clientele' as there are plenty of talented new development houses and labels, that are ready to explore and push the boundaries of PC gaming.
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on November 29, 2013
If you like hackers and lag, this is a great game. I have owned it for the last 24 hours. I bought it direct from Origin. It took about an hour to download with my 12M connection. About average for modern games. Physics were better and drivability improved over the last "Most Wanted" offering. After getting through the tutorial levels I settled in for about 10 hours of non-stop play. Here are my observations. First, you play online exclusively. This is beyond the "persistent authentication" of Steam and Origin, you simply must have a good broadband connection with good ping or you won't be able to play. Next, any time another human player enters your bubble of activity, prepare for massive lag with the player warping all around you madly. If you are a cop, forget trying to wreck someone who is never consistently in your game reality. Behind you, beside, in front blinking all around unpredictably. This is absolutely unplayable. The very nastiest part of this game is hackers. Nothing like having a guy warping all around you madly zapping you with pursuit tech over and over. No cool down and no chance to escape while you are killed like a helpless baby. This game is obviously of BETA quality. I wanted it to be great but sadly... it sucks.
This is very important. EA's Origin Great Game Guarantee? YES. They will refund your money within 24hrs of activation. EA support appears to be much improved over past experiences.
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on November 21, 2013
Don't Buy if you were wanting to use a wheel. It doesn't support the use of wheels. SHOULD HAVE BEEN STATED!
I am getting so tired of getting ripped off by EA that this will be my last purchase from them. Who and the heck makes a racing game and doesn't support steering wheels? Oh, EA I guess. What a bunch of clowns.
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on November 19, 2013
The visuals are quite a regression from Need for Speed Most Wanted (NFS:MW). I was aware of the 30 frames-per-second limit before purchasing the game, but hoped this spec would be compensated by other graphical tricks. It is not. The movement feels choppy, and the textures look jagged and blocky. I thought this feeling might fade after an hour or so of gameplay, but it is difficult to stop noticing how dated this game looks.

I love the cops/racers concept, and hoped NFS Rivals would be that dynamic in a world that looked as good as NFS:MW. Ugh - it's not even close.

I'll happily update my review if patches from EA improve the experience.

Minor note: You cannot truly pause the game during single player. If you are racing, the start button brings up the menu screen, but your car keeps moving forward and the other racers (computer controlled, not live players) pass you by. This is painful because after a race you want to head back to the safe house and bank your points. So playing one event at a time, you may be ten minutes away from an ideal moment to pause. Kids, spouse, phone call --- you are going to lose the event you are currently in and risk the points you've accumulated.
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on December 19, 2013
I got this game for $30 and can not imagine paying more money for this game as I don't believe after playing it that is worth any more than that. 2 and 1/2 stars.

Pros- Awesome graphics, I would say slightly better looking than the latest Most Wanted game. The landscapes are varied and the best I have seen in any NFS game. The cars sweat a lot, but it looks nice. I have an i5 3570k, HD 7870, and 8GB of RAM with this game is maxed out and it runs very smoothly. I wish it wasn't capped at 30fps, but for most it really shouldn't be an issue.
-The cars are fantastic. It is mostly all exotic beautiful expensive cars (you don't start out in anything cheap). Ferrari I missed you!
-The driving is very similar to Hot Pursuit, so is the gameplay and races. Yes you can make the car do a 180 or turn on a dime.Cop chases are super fun and difficult. It's no easy task to get away from them especially the more heat you get. Getting busted has consequences (you lose all the speed points you have been racking up).

Mixed feelings- The online is nice sometimes when you want to race real drivers, but they like to smash into you a lot. It can be laggy, but I have not had too many issues with it. I mostly play single player and enjoy that mode the most.

The bad- There is one persistent bug that really pisses me off. I can be driving along and all of a sudden my car will freeze in place while the environment loads up. The problem with this is it can last anywhere up to 5 seconds and all the while everything but you continues on (the racers, the cops, and the timer all continue while you are temporarily frozen in place).
- No wheel support for a racing game...
- Barely any cars. Only 24 cars for racers and 24 cars for cops. Maybe I am just spoiled by Gran Turismo and Forza.
- Crappy car customization. It's enough to keep me happy, but don't expect Midnight Club level customization. Heck even GTA V had better car customization.
- Absolutely no way to pause the game (what nincompoop decided that) I understand for online, but even in single player you can't pause.
- EA sucks

Overall I feel like this is a combination of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted (the latest ones). I enjoyed both of those games much better than this one. I will say this game is still quite a bit of fun on PC and if they fixed a few things it could be even better. If you are really desperate for a racing game then this one is good enough despite it's problems that I could recommend it.
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on November 24, 2013
Might be good if it were to function with a steering wheel maybe I could find out.
Support on this wheel issue seems non-existant.
Payed for day of release shipping to basically wait for ghost to finish the game (should they decid to do so).
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on January 6, 2014
Got this mess directly from EA on a Pre-order. Installed it, no steering wheel support, keyboard and X-box controller only......what a joke! Driving game with no steering wheel support. Had other issues (sound, frame rate, lock-ups). Returned it for a refund within 24 hrs. Stay away from this mess until they finish it with some major patches.
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on December 1, 2013
Thought this game would be insane with the graphics and everything, boy was I wrong. They came so close to a good game and just dropped it at the last second, sometimes it's the small things that make or break a game. Slow fixed frame rate of 30 fps, says it's SLI ready but would not use my cards correctly even with the newest drivers. ONLY 6 PLAYERS ONLINE. The entire time I would be driving across the map trying to find another user only for them to disappear or slowly load into a garage once I finally got to them. I'm guessing they ran out of time with this game due to the new systems as some other games have suffered from a tight deadline as well but it is no excuse to release a game that feels like it's still in alpha code. Thank god I bought this on Origin and realized you can return games on that, I certainly took advantage of that feature. To bad you can't review games on Origin (hmm I wonder why). EA needs to get their head back in the game, too many games lately have been released way too early. Get some beta testers before you release a steaming pile of a game next time.
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