Need for Speed: The Run

Need for Speed: The Run
Need for Speed: The Run
Developer(s) EA Black Box
Firebrand Games (3DS)[1]
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Sega (Japan)
Composer(s) Brian Tyler
Series Need for Speed
Engine Frostbite 2
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Nintendo 3DS
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s)
  • NA November 15, 2011[2]
  • EU November 18, 2011[2]
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
  • ACB: PG, G (Wii/3DS)
  • ESRB: T, E10+ (Wii/3DS)
  • PEGI: 16, 7 (Wii/3DS)
Media/distribution Optical disc, download, memory card
System requirements

See development section

Need for Speed: The Run is a racing video game, the 18th title in the Need for Speed franchise, and developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. The 3DS version is being developed by Firebrand Games, the team behind Undercover and Nitro (both DS versions). It was released in North America on November 15, 2011 and November 18, 2011 in Europe.

The game is described as "An illicit, high-stakes race across the country. The only way to get your life back is to be the first from San Francisco to New York. No speed limits. No rules. No allies. All you have are your driving skills and sheer determination as you battle hundreds of the world's most notorious drivers on the country's most dangerous roads."[5]

Producers Jason DeLong and Steve Anthony have stated during an interview that Black Box is aiming to obtain critical acclaim after their last game received universally poor ratings.[6] The Run has been in production for three years even though previous Black Box titles have had much shorter development periods.[7]



The Run is the first game in Need for Speed history to allow players to travel on foot. These gameplay instances are quick time events. Here the player character leaves the car.

In The Run, players will participate in an "underground world of illicit, high stakes racing," in a race from San Francisco to New York, with stops through Las Vegas, Denver, Detroit, and many other locations, making it the first title in the series to use real locations. The cops aren't the only ones after the player though, as the player "blows across borders, weaves through dense urban traffic, rockets down icy mountain passes and navigates narrow canyons at breakneck speeds."[8] There are over 300 km of track, three times more than Hot Pursuit, making it the biggest Need For Speed game.[9]

The Run is powered by DICE's Frostbite 2 engine, making the game the first non-shooter and one of the first console titles to use the engine, which provides visuals and car physics that "hug the road even at top speeds all built around a gripping storyline." Additionally, Need for Speed Autolog, the Need for Speed franchise's social competition functionality, which was introduced in Hot Pursuit and was previously used in Shift 2: Unleashed, is also back as it will continue to track career progression and compare game stats.[8]

The game features quick time events, with the player for the first time in Need for Speed history, exiting their car and traveling on foot. These events won't always be about harsh success or failure states. In some sections there are branching outcomes, so if the player mangles a certain button press, they'll get another chance to pull through.[9]

The cars can be altered with performance upgrades and visual upgrades, such as paint colors and body kits.

The driving model of the game is described as "sit somewhere between Shift and Hot Pursuit", not as arcade-styled as Hot Pursuit, but neither as simulator-styled as Shift. The Run employs a large range of real-world vehicles, seemingly taking in the usual mix of muscle cars, street racers and refined exotics, described as "each car presents a different driving challenge for the player."[9][10] Exclusively digitized for the game is the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S and the Pagani Huayra.[11][12] The damage system will be similar to that seen in Hot Pursuit.[13] The cars can be altered with performance upgrades and visual upgrades, such as paint colors and body kits. There will be cosmetic body kits known as Style Pack kits and Aero Pack kits, which will affect aerodynamics as well as performance.

It was revealed at Gamescom 2011 that an XP system will be used for unlocking cars and events. The game will also feature a Rewind option to allows the player to restart an event to their last checkpoint if they wreck their vehicle or rewind their vehicle from a collision or missed opportunity. Rewinds will only be available in limited quantities as their amount will dependent on the difficulity level that the player has selected; Easy will have unlimited Rewinds, Normal will have five Rewinds, Hard will have less Rewinds and Impossible will have no Rewinds as well as the most difficult AI opponents.[14]


A trailer was released on July 26, 2011 and entitled as "Run for the Hills", which shows the player racing along a barren desert highway which followed a series of hills as well as containing a large jump. The player had the task of overtaking ten opponents before reaching the end of the course event. GameSpot released a gameplay video on November 2, 2011 that portrayed a race consisting of 14 checkpoints that the player has to drive through before their time runs out. Time was added for each checkpoint that the player drove through.[citation needed] Pursuits can also occur during races. The police in the game will utilize roadblocks and perform ramming tactics. Police cars will have a health bar displayed above their vehicles.[15]


Up to 16 players can participate in a single online match. Players will be able to party with friends, pick a playlist of their favorite challenges and compete for supremacy across every stage of game. In addition to this, players will never have to wait in a lobby again even if they are joining a race in progress.[16] The multiplayer matches are split into differing game type playlists, such as Supercar Challenge, NFS Edition Racing, The Underground, Mixed Competition, Exotic Sprint, and Muscle Car Battles. Most of these modes pertain to different car varieties for each race, but the Supercar Challenge is meant entirely for the fastest cars on the fastest tracks. The player can select an event and vote towards the race course that the multiplayer game will be taking place on. Players will also take part in a reward system known as "The Bonus Wheel", which randomly selects a reward and required goal criteria for it.[17][18]

Nintendo 3DS

The gameplay is fairly similar to Hot Pursuit. Players race down freeways until they meet a police car. The officer will then try to chase them down and wreck their car. They will also encounter other objectives such as a straight-up race. There is another mode where players duel a rival. They can also race to toll booths that double as checkpoints.[1]

The 3DS version will also feature Autolog, which is integrated throughout the career mode and uses 40 in-game challenges scattered throughout the campaign. The game also takes advantage of StreetPass, letting players upload their best Autolog scores to other Nintendo 3DS devices. In multiplayer, the game will feature a straight race mode where eight people compete. There is also a four-on-four Cops vs. Racers mode. The game will support Wi-Fi and local wireless connections.[1]


In Need for Speed: The Run will feature a linear story mode, which places the player in the shoes of Jackson "Jack" Rourke. After an incident leaves him in bad standing with a mysterious crime organization, Jack becomes a marked man and must flee for his survival. The consequence of his situation leaves him owing large sums of money, which he cannot pay on his own. He is directed to a massive illegal street racing event called "The Run" by an associate, Sam Harper. The Run is a 3000 mile journey across the continental United States, starting in San Francisco and ending in New York City. She informs him the prize money, $25,000,000, is enough to secure his freedom from the organization but he will have to beat over 200 other drivers to the finish line to win. Complicating things, both the police and the criminal organization he is in debt to both want to make sure that he never finishes the race.[19][20]


Several characters in the game are digital likeness of real world actors. The cast also lends their voices to the game. Actor Sean Faris portrays protagonist Jack Rourke while actress Christina Hendricks plays Sam Harper. Two Sports Illustrated models, Irina Shayk and Christy Teigen also have roles in the game.[21]

Nintendo 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS version features a different storyline than its contemporaries. The plot will unfold through graphic novel-esque cutscenes that also contain minigames, though they are not the same as the quick-time event gameplay of the console version. The story is divided into five acts (which is further divided into 26 "episodes").[1] The protagonist of the 3DS version is not Jack, but rather a down-on-his-luck stock car racer named "Matt". The premise remains mostly unchanged (a coast-to-coast race with a large pot at stake) but will introduce a mysterious female character who will take the story in a different direction.[1]


System requirements[22]
Minimum Recommended
Operating system Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) 32 bit
(Windows XP is not supported)
Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) 64 bit
(Windows XP is not supported)
CPU 3.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Equivalent
Memory 3 GB 4 GB
Hard drive space 18 GB of free space
Graphics hardware AMD: 512 MB RAM ATI Radeon 4870 or higher performance
NVIDIA: 512 MB RAM NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT or higher performance
AMD: 1024 MB RAM ATI Radeon 6950
Sound hardware DirectX Compatible (DirectX 10) DirectX Compatible (DirectX 11)
Network 512 Kbps or faster Internet connection
Input device(s) keyboard, Gamepad or Steering Wheel

Since the release of Undercover, Black Box has been working on another entry to the franchise, presumably continuing the action focused street-racing gameplay of Black Box's previous titles. This game has an extended development window to give the developers a chance to create a game that "could really blow the doors off the category".[23][24][25] It was confirmed that the game will feature a fictional storyline and characters.[26][27][28] The game was first hinted early in November 2010 by Senior Vice President of EA Games Europe, Patrick Söderlund in a interview with Eurogamer, before the release of Hot Pursuit. Söderlund stated he want to alternate developers to give them time to make a good game. Eurogamer’s Robert Purchese asked, "You say there will be an arcade NFS game every year in November, but next year's game won't be developed by Criterion. Is it Black Box?" Söderlund stated "You can assume that, yes. Yes. I would say so, yes."[28]

The game was originally set to be revealed at E3 2011, however, on April 28, 2011, a listing for Need for Speed: The Run appeared on UK retailer site ShopTo. Later, EA released the teaser trailer for all to see. On April 29, the firm confirmed the game's details.[8] "This is the year that Need for Speed goes to the next level, " said Jason DeLong, executive producer at EA. "We think that Need for Speed: The Run is going to surprise people with its intense, thrilling story and big action feel. But the game would be nothing without hot cars and crazy-fast chases. So that is what we're delivering — explosive racing that will have players flirting with disaster at 200-miles an hour."[8] EA Games Label president, Frank Gibeau stated that Need for Speed: The Run will offer "an edgier experience" than previous entries in the racing series.[29]

The Run's lead development platform is the PlayStation 3.[30] At E3 2011, it was announced that the PlayStation 3 version of the game will include seven exclusive cars, including the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Hennessey Venom GT, Gumpert Apollo Sports, Lamborghini Countach QV5000, Koenigsegg Agera R and Porsche Carrera GT.[3][31]

EA Black Box said that the Frostbite 2 engine allows The Run to look stunning, stating that Frostbite 2 is not only the best engine it has used in a game to date, but "the most versatile" too.[32] According to designer Alex Grimbley, it has apparently taken a year to re-purpose the tech for driving rather than shooting.[9] The EA Black Box team, especially the artists, coders and designers, for the first time, worked collaboratively in small groups on The Run.[9] Executive producer Jason DeLong stated that the Frostbite engine provides a more detailed cinematic environment and experience to the game.[33]

Jason DeLong, executive producer at Black Box, said the studio used DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine for The Run as it was intent on making a "Hollywood" experience and to give the game a more cinematic feel than past story-based Need for Speed titles:

When they decided to split the development across Criterion and Black Box to give each studio the time and development to create a quality experience, one of the things that we obviously had to do was to reinvest in our technology, because we hadn’t been able to because of the yearly cycles in the past. So we looked at several options: do we advance the engine that we currently have? What other third party ones are out there? And when we realised the game that we wanted to make, which we knew was based in a cinematic kind of Hollywood storytelling fashion, we looked at Frostbite and it seemed like, ‘Well, it’s internal; we can work closely with the dev team’: it was the right choice. It allowed us to get a character in the game, have incredible, believable characters in addition to amazing worlds and amazing looking cars. Their visual effects work is second to none; the world destruction, their audio is incredible. And most importantly, one of the nice side benefits was that it’s an incredibly content-driven tool, which allowed us to create more content than we’ve ever done before.[34]
— Jason DeLong, executive producer at Black Box

The Run is the first non-DICE game to use Frostbite 2, but Black Box did collaborate with DICE to make certain that the engine was used properly, with Delong commenting that the collaboration allowed for a "very deep racing mechanic of handling physics into the game". "We did a cross-studio development on the Frostbite 2 engine that we’re using", DeLong said. "And yeah, it was a lot of collaboration and work with them to get things like our road tool, which is our internal tool that allows us to build a track very quickly."[35]

The Run's producer Alex Grimbley denied that The Run would not feature any form of vehicle customization. "We decided against customization because that is not what The Run is about. It is an understandable stance given that is a whole new direction for the franchise. We want to focus on the story and the race itself."[36] However, this statement was retracted after some trailers and screenshots of the game featured visually modified vehicles. A GameSpot trailer released on November 2, 2011 official confirmation that body kits and selectable boy paints can be placed on vehicles.[37]

When asked why is The Run from San Fran – New York rather than LA – New York, game’s producer Brian Lindley replied, "That’s a good question. I think we were maybe looking for more of a direct route. It’s more of a straight line route rather than being sort of corner to corner. But also, San Fran has some iconic landmarks and things like the bridge and the downtown. Also, what we can do with the environment with things like fog, it makes it of a bit cooler place to drive than LA. And my experiences driving in LA are largely being stuck in traffic! So that’s the primary reason, it’s just a cooler looking start for the game."[38]

Black Box senior publicist Dana Sissons stated that The Run is going to be more exciting, more varied, and bigger than ever. The race from San Francisco to New York is full of new race modes, tons of different terrain, and a few “Michael Bay movie moment” avalanches to keep you on your toes. "As a result of Frostbite 2, we were able to create this really robust, huge game that is reflective of, basically, the size of the United States," said Sissons. Which means that as racing through the United States, there will be treated to realistic and varied terrain, including deserts, mountains, cities, farmland, and so much more. According to Sissons, it’ s not just going to be a huge game, it will be "easily the biggest Need For Speed game, with 303 times the track space of previous games."[39]

Marketing and release

Blue Porsche 991 Carrera S fl IAA 2011.jpg
The Limited Edition of the game features three exclusive cars, the Lamborghini Aventador (top), and Porsche 911 Carrera S (bottom), and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (not pictured).

Prior to its release, Need for Speed: The Run was marketed and promoted heavily through the use of numerous Internet and TV trailers. Famed Hollywood explosion fetishist Michael Bay has directed a TV advertisement for the game. Talking about his venture of directing a trailer for a game, Michael Bay stated, "What I try to do with my trailers is to get your heart racing to the end of it." The advertisement features explosions, car crashes, supercars and police vehicle.[40]

In addition to the standard edition, a Limited Edition of the game has been announced, which is available through pre-order. The Limited Edition features numerous bonuses over the standard edition, including exclusive packaging, three exclusive cars (the Lamborghini Aventador, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Porsche 911 Carrera S) and five exclusive challenges with bonus rewards and achievements.[41]

There are three pre-order offers through several retail outlets. Each pre-order consists of two bonus cars and three events inspired by the "exclusive" Challenge Series, which depends on the outlets the player pre-order the game. The three "exclusive" Challenge Series on offer are inspired by EA Black Box previous Need for Speed games Underground, Most Wanted and Carbon. The Underground Edition Nissan 370Z (Z34) and Underground Edition Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32) are included in the Need for Speed The Run Underground Challenge Series as bonus cars, while the Most Wanted Edition BMW M3 GTS and Razor's Mustang Boss 302 are included in the Need for Speed The Run Most Wanted Challenge Series as bonus cars, and the Carbon Edition Corvette Z06 (C6) and Darius Audi R8 are included in the Need for Speed The Run Carbon Challenge Series as bonus cars.[41][42][43][44]

Buying the game through Origin comes with two special offers. These who pre-order the game will receive a PC Digital download for one of five past Need for Speed titles. Not only will the player get The Run, but the player can choose between Hot Pursuit, Shift 2: Unleashed, Shift, Undercover or Prostreet. The Need for Speed The Run Carbon Challenge Series will also be included as a pre-order bonus. This offer is only available until November 14, 2011. These who buys the game after November 14 through Origin will receive seven EA racing titles for only $79.99 ($159.99 value) that’s 50% off the Need for Speed Collection, which included The Run, Shift 2: Unleashed, Shift, Hot Pursuit, Undercover, Prostreet and Burnout Paradise. This offer is only available until December 31.[45][46]

A Need for Speed: The Run demo was released on Xbox Live first on October 18 (expired on November 1) and PSN on October 19 (also expired on November 1), a month ahead of the game's launch. The demo featured two levels: Desert Hills, California and Independence Pass, Colorado in a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni, and supported a "refer a friend to download the demo" feature giving players access to a 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S. Autolog also implemented in the demo, allowing the player to compare best times with friends across the two tracks.[47][48]

Need For Speed teamed up with HP and Vagrant Records to let fans decide which of the favorite bands they would like to see in The Run. The fans got a choice to vote for their favorite song and artist, which includes the song "Mama Taught Me Better" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Solar" by MonstrO and "Tropical Depression" by The Night Marchers, on The Run's official website.[49]

The Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni appeared as one of the available cars in the demo.

To promote the game in Europe, EA and Need for Speed is conducting the 2011 Need for Speed European Spokesmodel Search. This continent wide search is set to discover two women with boundless energy, an outgoing personality and an edgy style fused with a passion for cars and gaming. The winners will act as Need for Speed ambassadors at events throughout 2012, including representing Need for Speed products at high profile gaming events across Europe and the Team Need for Speed racing team in the prestigious FIA GT3 European Championship and Euro Drift program. Models searches are being conducted in five territories: France, Germany, Norway, Russia and the United Kingdom. Finalists will be selected from each territory with the final two winners being announced in November in conjunction with the release of Need for Speed: The Run.[50] To promote the game in US, Canada and UK, EA announced a competition, giving away one 2012 Porsche Carrera S. All the competitions had to do is enter by logging in with the EA account, or register for free.[51]

Electronic Arts and Sports Illustrated have announced a marketing partnership for the Need for Speed franchise, "bringing together the worlds of fashion, video games, cars and beauty in a first-of-its-kind partnership." EA announced that the likenesses of 2011 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Irina Shayk and model Chrissy Teigen will appear in the game as part of a promotional deal struck between the game publisher and popular sports magazine. The cross promotion isn’t limited to the models appearance in the game. Sports Illustrated will be a featured advertiser on billboards that appear in the gamescape. S.I. will offer a bundle that will see buyers receive a six-month "All Access" subscription to Sports Illustrated, a copy of Need for Speed: The Run for PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, and a Making of Need for Speed: The Run documentary DVD starring the two swimsuit models for $50.[52][53]

Electronic Arts and Adidas collaborated to produce 100 pair of shoes tied into Need for Speed: The Run. The shoes, beyond an Need for Speed detail, look like they were discovered in some box at the back of the Adidas warehouse, intended as a promo piece for the 1992 Spike Lee joint Malcolm X. "Our goal with Need for Speed is to be more than just a video game franchise, as we view ourselves as a leader in youth and automotive culture as well," said Kevin Maher, senior director of marketing at EA. The first 50 pair of shoes will be available at the Adidas Originals Chicago store on October 10, with another 50 available at the San Francisco store on October 22. The first to purchase the shoes will be invited to "exclusive kick-off" events at the stores a few days later.[54]


Need for Speed: The Run has received mixed reviews so far. The first review was published by GameInformer, which gave the game 7.8 out of 10, saying that "Need for Speed: The Run is by no stretch a bad game; it just fails to capitalize on its chances. San Francisco to New York is a long haul, and it's even longer when not enough happens in between." A couple more positive reviews include Gametrailers which gave it an 8.4 and Gaming Nexus which gave it an A-. IGN gave it a 6.5 "Okay" rating saying that it had a bad story, but many cars and some great looking tracks.


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