Need For Speed Rivals

Ghost Games' first Need for Speed takes the very best of Criterion in this excellent package.

Spotlight

Digital FoundryNext-Gen Face-Off: Need for Speed: Rivals

Final code tested on retail consoles - plus the PC version too.

Craig Sullivan's Need for Speed

The former Criterion creative director on the challenge of Rivals and whether the series may move from annual releases.

Key events

EA is hoping to make a Need for Speed movie sequel

EA is hoping to make a Need for Speed movie sequel

Has already signed on with Chinese production companies.

The Need for Speed movie could be getting a sequel, if EA has its way.

As reported by Variety, EA has joined forces with a trio of Chinese production companies who worked with Paramount on Transformers: Age of Extinction. More specifically, these companies are China Movie Channel Program Center, Jiaflix Enterprises and 1905 Pictures.

However, production on the film cannot proceed until the rights to a sequel are negotiated with DreamWorks, who produced the first film. These negotiations have yet to begin.

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Layoffs at NFS: Rivals dev Ghost Games UK

Production reportedly suspended on new Need for Speed game.

That may be that for the UK arm of Need for Speed: Rivals developer Ghost Games. Some staff are being laid off and the long-term future of the studio looks iffy. Development of a new Need for Speed title has apparently halted.

Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul shows new Need for Speed trailer

Last night's Superbowl has gifted us another look at the upcoming Need for Speed movie, as introduced by Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul.

The trailer's opening shots remind us of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit's Seacrest County - as do the quick flashes of cops vs. racers action.

But the film itself focuses on a personal rivalry - between Aaron Paul and fellow racer Dominic Cooper (spoilers: he's the bad guy). The plot is a revenge story and... oh, who cares. Look - shiny cars! tyre smoke! a helicopter!

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Next-Gen Face-Off: Need for Speed: Rivals

Digital FoundryNext-Gen Face-Off: Need for Speed: Rivals

Final code tested on retail consoles - plus the PC version too.

As Ghost Games' debut racer, Need for Speed: Rivals is a curious beast - a game of highway tag that replicates the handling of Criterion's efforts to an uncanny degree, despite the move to the Frostbite 3 engine. This isn't our first look at the game of course - we were lucky enough to gain extended access to Rivals during EA's recent multiplayer press event, but the PC version was nowhere to be seen. Regardless, during our testing, we were surprised to see the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game delivering near like-for-like visuals too, albeit with more refined effects-work appearing on Sony's side. However, frame-pacing issues affected performance on both, and with promises of an imminent fix, a question mark lingers over the state of the final release - and how the end result stands up to PC.

For a quick recap, both next-gen versions produce stunning 1920x1080 native images with perceptibly identical lighting, textures and geometry across the board. This remains the case for the final release here too, though the PS4 retains its stronghold in the effects category. While shadows aren't filtered to the same quality as the PC version on ultra settings, Sony's platform matches it with a refined bokeh depth-of-field effect that goes entirely missing on Xbox One - where it appears as a more simple blur filter instead.

Based on direct confirmation from Ghost Studios' rendering engineer, Andreas Brinck, the PS4 also gives us the more accurate horizon-based ambient occlusion (HBAO), as seen on the PC's maximum settings. By comparison, the Xbox One relies on an approximate measure with its screen-space approach to shading (SSAO), producing a prominent silhouette around each car's exterior, plus a persistent shade under spoilers during a race. For the final build, all of this does indeed remain the same - leaving the PS4 with a respectable, if not spectacular, advantage in the visual stakes.

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Full length trailer for the Need for Speed movie looks stupid/amazing

Full length trailer for the Need for Speed movie looks stupid/amazing

I will get my revenge! But first let's race!

The upcoming Need for Speed movie has received an extended trailer showing the exploits of Jess- Aaron Paul as he races cars. Not for money. Not for love. But for revenge. And possibly fun too, because boy does it looks fun.

The actual plot is apparently about a mechanic (Paul) framed for manslaughter who decides to take revenge on the wealthy NASCAR racer who put him in prison - but not before first beating him in a colossal underground street race, like ya do.

Seriously, that's the plot. Does it matter, though? The car chases look genuinely thrilling with some pretty slick action choreography by stuntman-cum-director Scott Waugh. Plus it successfully makes the viewer want to play the games, which is a good thing as Need for Speed: Rivals is out this month and if Martin Robinson's review of it is anything to go by, it's kind of wonderful. You can even acquire Paul's signature Ford Mustang GT in it. Heck, the movie trailer even makes me want to toss its music, Muse's Butterflies and Hurricanes, onto the game's soundtrack. And what do you know, it's on Sony's answer to Spotify, Music Unlimited. Synergy!

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Need for Speed: Rivals review

Grab a Ferrari 458 Italia and hit up Need for Speed: Rivals' Redview County and you can find yourself in a pretty decent approximation of what a contemporary, open-world OutRun would look like. You'll see traces of AM2's magic in the languid powerslides that send sweet white smoke pluming from wheel arches, and in the long drives that take you through sinewy roads darkened by the thick canopy of pines, on to snaking snowy mountain passes, and climaxing in full-throated blasts through wide, parched desert.

Dial back some of Rivals' obnoxious background chatter and soundtrack and you'll feel it in the base thrill of pounding open roads, and see it in far-off horizons that can be reached in several quick seconds with a heavy foot and a boost of nitrous. A drive around Redview County sees the speedometer rarely dipping below the 150mph mark, and the game delivers a sense of speed to back up its convictions.

It's a sensation that was brilliantly felt in Criterion's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit in 2010, but one lacking a little in its 2012 follow-up Most Wanted. Rivals feels like a continuation of those titles, which is no surprise - the bulk of the staff at new studio Ghost Games was transplanted from the Guildford studio earlier this year, and the weight of handling, feel of vehicle combat and technical achievements will be familiar to fans of the Burnout developer's brand of racing.

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Face-Off Preview: Need for Speed: Rivals on PS4 and Xbox One

Having convincingly toppled the Xbox One in terms of both resolution and performance, the PS4 release of Battlefield 4 stands as the first game to show a theoretical "on-paper" advantage manifest as a practical one. But today we turn from shooters to racers; coming from the newly-formed Ghost Games, Need for Speed: Rivals uses the very same Frostbite 3 engine to deliver a next-gen cops-versus-crooks chaser that blends single and multiplayer modes into one. However, given the series' strong history of platform parity - with PS3 and 360 releases of Most Wanted being almost like-for-like - do we dare to expect any clear performance leader with this new engine?

Suspicions are raised that this may be the case, following hints from producer Marcus Nilsson that Rivals may look "a little" better on one platform than the other - this superior version in fact sharing the graphical quality of the eventual PC version. While it's rare for a developer to make a concession like this ahead of a title's launch, the drive for parity across most of the game's design and visuals is still at the heart of the project.

So what do we have? The build under our magnifying glass is confirmed by Ghost Games as 99 per cent close to final, with only minor tweaks left ahead of its launch this month. The claim to achieving a native 1920x1080 on both PS4 and Xbox One is also made, and certainly holds muster with our tests - the full HD standard giving each platform equal footing in terms of base image quality. The result is a level of crystal clarity we'd always hoped next-gen platforms would deliver from the outset; the resolution boost helping us easily pick out oncoming cars while driving at break-neck speeds - a refreshing change coming from the 720p standard. We played the game at a recent EA event designed to give reviewers a taste of the game's multiplayer experience.

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Craig Sullivan's Need for Speed

The former Criterion creative director on the challenge of Rivals and whether the series may move from annual releases.

"If I was to sit here and say it's been easy I would not be telling the truth. It's hard." Craig Sullivan, creative director on Need for Speed Rivals, has earned his point. This time last year he was taking a well-deserved break, having just shipped Most Wanted with Criterion. And now he's at the heart of a studio still in its infancy and about to ship its first game - and it's one that's coming to five different platforms, all developed by Gothenburg-based Ghost Games, placing it right at the heart of the next-gen storm.

Need for Speed Rivals runs at 1080p on Xbox One and PS4

Ghost's debut one of the first to achieve cross-platform parity.

Need for Speed: Rivals, the debut for recently formed Gothenburg-based studio Ghost, is one of the first cross-platform next-gen games to achieve a native 1080p across both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Need for Speed: Rivals now a PS4 launch title in North America

Need for Speed: Rivals now a PS4 launch title in North America

PS4 edges out Xbox One in the final stretch.

Need for Speed: Rivals was initially set to come out worldwide on 22nd November to coincide with the Xbox One launch, but now EA has brought it forward a week to 15th November in North America, making it a launch title for PS4.

The Frostbite 3 engine-powered racer will support remote play on Vita as well as AllDrive Mode which seemlessly integrates single-player, co-op and multiplayer. However, there won't be an option for local multiplayer.

The PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions of Need for Speed: Rivals are set for 22nd November in Europe and 19th November in North America.

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EA bullish on PS4 and Xbox One launch sales

EA bullish on PS4 and Xbox One launch sales

"Pricing can come down pretty aggressively over the next few years."

With the next generation of consoles nearly upon us, EA, one of the biggest game publishers in the world, has had its say on what it expects from the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Sony has gone on the record to say it will shift five million PlayStation 4 consoles before the financial year's end - 31st March 2014.

Microsoft has yet to gaze into its own crystal ball and predict Xbox One numbers, but in a financial call overnight, EA executives predicted a similar number for the console.

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The Need for Speed movie trailer takes itself very, very seriously

The Need for Speed movie trailer takes itself very, very seriously

After Aaron Paul failed to win a car on The Price is Right.

Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul may not have won a car when he appeared on The Price is Right in 2000, but he's shown them by becoming incredibly famous and starring in his own car chase movie, Need for Speed.

Loosely based on EA's racing series, the Need for Speed movie follows the exploits of a street racer who's framed and must get revenge on his ex-partner.

It seems to have very little to do with its source material, but there are cars. Cars that go fast. Based on the trailer, the Need for Speed movie seems to take itself incredibly seriously, which seems like an odd move for a film based on a racing series that barely even had a story. With any luck it will be an amusing piece of fluff, but as is, it looks like a second-rate Drive wannabe right down to casting a Breaking Bad star. I guess we'll see how it turns out in March.

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15-person Criterion set to work on a non-racing game

"We still exist. We chose not to continue making NFS games. I wouldn't worry at all."

Criterion, much-loved UK developer of the Burnout series and recent Need for Speed games, has downsized to just 15 people as it moves away from the racing game genre.

Live: EA Gamescom Conference

The latest on BF4, FIFA 14 and the unveiling of The Sims 4. Watch it back and read our live coverage.

The latest on BF4, FIFA 14 and the unveiling of The Sims 4. Watch it back and read our live coverage.