We can usually expect a good game from Electronic Arts, and Need for Speed III is on the right track. Compared to other racing games-Need for Speed 1,2, and Ridge Racer, this is by far the best example of a really fun car racing package.
The graphics and flexibility in this game are what make it so entertaining and it delivers heart racing action. In our test kitchens, we examined the handling, excitement and options of this game, and it came up a winner.
The handling of the cars is great, much improved over the sluggish handling of earlier versions. It doesn’t take much practice to get into the racing action and really get going. In earlier versions, we felt like we were playing in two-ton bumper cars, but with this game the cars are as light and mobile as motorcycles. The tracks were extremely scenic, and loaded quickly on our Playstation-which is a big plus-nobody likes to sit and wait for a track to load. It wasn’t bogged down by FMV’s, either, which we can live without.
Playability was good, and it kept us coming back for more. The many different options, such as car choices, weather, night or day driving, backwards and mirrored driving gives the driver flexibility and added value. The split screen option is a must in today’s racing game entertainment. The history of each car and slide show is a nice touch, but would prove to be more entertaining for real die-hard car enthusiasts. We didn’t spend much time there.
The total ambience of this game was good. The music could be better, but some of the percussion-heavy tracks are what keeps our hearts pumping. The tracks and surrounding graphics are extraordinary, and the night/day and weather options make the same tracks appear really different, adding real value to the game. The Atlantica track is awesome, and seeing something other than the Pacific Coast Highway was a bonus. Some of the tracks even appeared as though they were East Coast, although that was wishful thinking on our part. Playing in the first person driving mode made it seem really realistic, and that was the view of choice for us.
After getting the initial arcade mode out of our systems, we checked out the practice level, which proved to be helpful. It was beneficial to practice on the various tracks, while the announcer told us what tricky curves were approaching. After doing this a few times, we felt confident enough to try the tournament mode. We were a little disappointed that the car and track choices were limited here, and you had to place high on the list to move up, but we suppose that’s the idea of a tournament. We didn’t get very far in the tournament, but practice will get us there in no time.
To take a side break, we went over to Hot Pursuit Mode, where we were amused at the cop on the megaphone that sounded like Jim Carey. The cops were swarming all over the place, and added great excitement to the total package. Oncoming traffic also kept us on our toes.
With the many different modes and options, this game comes out on top, and those other than car racing enthusiasts will enjoy the excitement and atmosphere. It delivers real impact and punch and is one of those few games that will keep itching at us to play for a long time to come. We won’t tire of it easily.