A sense of entitlement has spread across the entirety of the video game fan base like a disease in the last ten years. It has turned a large portion of ‘gamers’ into intolerable whiners who deem even a slightest inaccuracy unacceptable. Whether it is related to the plot, mechanics, or their self-created standards based on the game which they’ve not played even once, they’ll will always find something to complain about. And as soon as EA has released the first trailer for the new Need for Speed, I was not surprised by the fact that majority have already belittled the game in one way or another. However, just like with The Last of Us, internet’s vocal minority has yet again criticized something that is absolutely acceptable and where The Last of Us was getting abused for time skipping, new Need for Speed is being defamed for its unrealistic and, at times, comical setting.
I have to admit, the ‘lad’-like approach to the story of the upcoming Need for Speed seems a little off and yes, some sections of the FMV cutscenes that we have seen so far are cringeworthy, but the fact of the matter is that the newest incarnation of the Need for Speed franchise might serve us with the most realistic portrayal of street racing that we’ve ever seen. And before you start hurling abuse at me, because you simply disagree with my opinion, or because I don’t have a PHD in illicit motor vehicle competitive racing, let me explain myself first.
As I’ve already said, I have no academic background in street racing or in fact anything that involves illegal use of vehicles, however I have something much better, and it is first-hand experience. No, I have never participated in street racing myself, but every Saturday night - with no exceptions - I was watching people who did. Everything that EA has published so far in relation to the new Need for Speed, has not only reaffirmed that they are doing something that has a chance to reach beyond the average and mundane, but also something that might be touching on actual realism.
The first major complaint that has arisen - as soon as first plot related information was released - is in relation to the main storyline itself. Some people, or as I like to call them ‘bastards’, have voiced their upset about the fact that the game might not have an actual story, as the main objective of the game is to become famous in either style, build, speed, crew, or police notoriety. The base for their complaint, as always, comes from the fact that 10 years ago they’ve all played Need for Speed: Most Wanted and it was ‘’well good’’. Mainly because it featured - and I quote here - ‘’an actual story, about revenge, and human suffering’’. A story where a handful of so called racers is terrorizing the entire city is more fantastical than the entire Call of Duty Franchise and this is because in real functioning world, inhabited by actual human beings, street racers cower on the sight of the police, the sound of a siren and prefer to have their car impounded rather than risk losing it all together by trying to outrun the authorities.
When I was growing up, I lived about 20 meters away from a small carpark where said ‘outlaws’ were meeting up every Saturday. It was a great location, as it was situated at the very beginning of a road which led straight into the heart of the city. However, it was also a kilometre away from a nearest police station, and the close proximity between the two allowed me to witness hundreds of arrests over the years. You could argue that a person who is driving a customized 600hp Porsche Carrera GT and could easily be a professional driver, has a really good chance at outrunning a middle-aged man driving a Skoda. However, everyone who was too late to leave before boys in blue arrived just waited patiently to hand themselves over, because spending few hours in police custody and paying couple hundred Euros for car recovery was, and still is better than risking time in prison or even death. This is because most people who were a part of the so called ‘Night Club’ had careers and families they all had to go back to in the morning and, just like the characters from Need for Speed’s newest trailer, were all over 30.
The second feature of the Need for Speed that most seem to be upset about concerns the age of the on-screen characters and not their behaviour. The consensus to which the internet’s vocal minority has come to, is that ‘’Old people would never do things like this’’. And where most fail to specify what they mean by old, it is easy to comprehend that they simply can’t bare the idea that someone over the age of 25 could possibly race around a city, as it is something only young and beautiful indulge themselves in. If you step out of the imaginary world which these people have created, you’d see that they couldn’t be any more incorrect. However, it is not entirely their fault, as movies such as The Fast & The Furious, and previous Need for Speed titles are responsible for creation of the stereotype that so many stand by. In a way it is partially true, as when I was witnessing the street culture unravel in the early 2000’s, I’d always see a single ‘youngster’ who would try his chances racing against others in his slammed Volkswagen Golf, but every time someone like that appeared, he/she would simply be laughed at and sent away not to waste anybody’s time. In a way it was a cruel thing to do, but ‘Night Club’s’ 40 and even 50 year old top dogs who were doing it for years, knew that it would be better not to invite anyone with no experience or inadequate car, as the majority of even the most experienced drivers ended up in hospital sooner or later.
In the end both Need for Speed and real life street racing are all about money. If you can’t afford to buy the right car, or modify your existing vehicle to a required ‘spec’ you can’t consider yourself a member of the club. However, where in real life all drivers are highly situated business men/women which spend tens if not hundreds of thousands on their cars with the money gained through their daytime employment. Your in game persona will obviously generate his/hers funds through street racing, or any other illegal activity, and I understand how people can see this to be a problem, as you can’t possibly earn enough money through racing to buy a brand new Porsche. But when saying that, this people also forget that Need for Speed is a video game, and it has to keep you engaged by throwing at you activities based around its main mechanic, which in this case is driving. And I can’t see how a banking mini-game could be a better alternative to making money than racing in a game that is all about racing.