Need for Speed - the Digital Foundry verdict
Need for Speed feels like an homage to past titles in the series, taking inspiration from the b-movie live action cinematics from Undercover, the police chases from Most Wanted, and the night time 'street' aesthetic from the Underground instalments. It's a mish-mash of ideas that work well enough, with customisable handling allowing fans to carve out their own driving play style.
The night-time setting also allows for Ghost Games to unleash a highly stylised, often impressive aesthetic, creating a world that occasionally does a decent job at passing as filmed footage - a bold evolution in the game's visual direction. DICE's Frostbite engine - complete with its latest upgrades for physically-based lighting - is a perfect fit here, and for the most part Ghost Games translates the core experience to a good standard across both consoles.
All of which leaves us with another discussion point in the great resolution debate. Back in February, we made the case that many of the titles we test with a 900p/1080p resolution differential look and play much the same, with the move towards improved anti-aliasing and more advanced post effects closing the gap still further. Need for Speed bears this out quite nicely - PS4 inches ahead due to the extra clarity provided by the native 1080p resolution, but there's nothing you're really likely to actually miss, especially during fast action gameplay. In this sense, the two games are effectively identical - an already soft game on PS4 looks just a little softer on Xbox One.
Going forward we suspect it's up to the PC version to potentially provide the definitive gameplay and graphical experience. The Frostbite engine scales up beautifully on PC, with titles such as Battlefield 4 and the recent Star Wars Battlefront using higher quality effects work that takes advantage of the increase in GPU power available. There's the ability to really push resolution, but really it's the leap to 60fps that we really want to see - and that's what the developer is intent on delivering. The PC release is delayed until some time in Spring 2016, and we'll be taking an in-depth look as soon as we can.
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