By Brad Cook
Under cover of night, you decide to return; Palmont City beckons from the cozy confines of Carbon Canyon. You remember what Darius said when you left: Between the heat and the crews, you need to walk away. You dont know if you can trust him, but you need to find out what happened at the end of the race that night, when the Palmont Police Department disabled your opponents with an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) blast and Nikki handed you a bag containing bundles of paper, rather than the cash you had expected.
A sudden jolt interrupts your thoughts: Sergeant Cross, formerly of the Rockport PD and now a bounty hunter, bumps your car from behind. The chase ends when you crash into a tractor trailer blocking the road, but a trio of cars pulls up just as Cross approaches you. Its Darius and three of his men. Darius pays off the bounty on your head and then reveals his motivation for coming to your aid: Ive helped you out of serious jams twice now. Time for you to return the favor.
Then Nikki shows up. Shes not happy, given that you left town in a hurry, but Darius convinces her that youd be good for his crew, since Palmont City is now split between four major crews. She reluctantly agrees to show you the ropes, telling you to replace your totaled car with your choice of a new one, each typical of the car types found in Palmont: the Camaro SS, a muscle car with top acceleration; the Alfa Romeo Brera, an exotic thats solid all around; or the Mazda RX-8, a tuner with the best handling of the three.
Nikki then introduces you to Neville, whos the first member of your new crew, and the two of them take you on a cruise of Palmonts streets. They explain the basics of the three types of crew members you can hire: blockers take out opponents cars for you, scouts show you the shortcuts, and drafters let you get behind them for a few seconds, cutting your wind resistance and letting you build speed. Neville is a blocker. Youll soon meet others.
Winner Takes All
Now you must re-establish your reputation in Palmont City, challenging other crews to races where the winner takes the territory. As you take over more turf, you build your crew and accumulate cash, which you use to improve your car and buy new ones from the muscle, exotic, and tuner classes. Youll want a variety of crew members and vehicles in your stable, because the races run the gamut from simple start-to-finish affairs to contests where you earn points for completing clean drifts through corners, with the winner the driver who totals the most.
Secure all of a crews territory and its boss will challenge you to two races: one on Palmonts streets and the other in one of the treacherous canyons. After you beat a boss, youll get to choose two of his cars to add to the garage at your safe house, where you retreat between races to modify your vehicles and decide which crew members you want to hire and fire. In addition to a specific role, each crew member also comes with a secondary skill: mechanics get you discounts on upgrade parts; fabricators help you unlock autosculpt parts that let you tweak your cars looks; and fixers give you extra cash when you win races and keep your heat level from increasing.
Your heat level dictates how likely the Palmont police are to keep a lookout for you and engage in hot pursuit when youre sighted, whether youre in a race or simply roaming through a territory. To get away from the police, you can employ a variety of tricks, including pulling into hiding spots when theyre not looking and running into certain structures that will fall on them as they pursue you. And if you run into the tractor trailers carrying logs or cars, theyll drop their loads in the path of pursuers.
Beyond Your Career
When you want to take a break from conquering the turf in Palmont City (youll learn Darius true motives as the story progresses, and they wont be pretty), try the 15 types of contests in the Challenge Series, which include successfully avoiding police pursuit while disabling a certain number of their cars, racing through a canyon, and engaging in Race Wars, which pit you against 19 other drivers in a grueling three-lap competition. Complete a bronze level challenge to unlock a silver one, which unlocks the gold level when mastered. Beat a gold level challenge and unlock even more cool stuff.
You can also set up custom races against computer-controlled opponents or against other players over the Internet. There are two game modes available only online: pursuit tag, in which one driver must avoid everyone else, who are cops; and pursuit knockout, in which the last driver at the end of each lap becomes a cop and must try to take out the others. The better you finish in an online game, the more experience points you earn, bringing you closer to unlocking special cars and customization parts.
So what are you waiting for? The exit for Palmont City is coming up. Take the off-ramp and be prepared for an adventure that goes beyond racing.
Check out our systems for your best gaming experience.
If you liked this game, check out:
- Mac OS X version 10.4.9
- 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor or higher
- 1GB of RAM
- ATI X1600, NVIDIA GeForce 7300, or higher video card (Intel GMA950 chipset not supported)
- 6GB hard disk space
- DVD-ROM drive
The Twists and Turns of the Past
The Need for Speed series, inspired by such movies as The Fast and the Furious, first mixed racing with story in 2003s Need for Speed: Underground. The video game series had debuted in 1995, but the addition of a storyline gave players goals to achieve while roaring down city streets. Character motivations werent always clear, leaving players to wonder who they could trust.
After Need for Speed: Underground 2 continued the storyline, Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) took players to a new city, Rockport. There, they met Sergeant Cross, who wants to shut down all illegal street racing in the city. The main character flees Rockport at the end of Most Wanted, a fugitive from the law hoping to start a new life in Palmont City. Unfortunately, as youve discovered, Cross still holds quite a grudge and has followed you to Palmont, where a new cast of characters waits to challenge your racing skills.