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The Long Lancia – More Fun in Need for Speed World December 27, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Need for Speed World.
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Not that Need for Speed World isn’t fun in and of itself.  I just think we have found a new source of even greater fun.

NFSW had been revamped yet again since I last played.  The cars have all be reclassified into new brackets based on their performance.  Levels have been rendered all but useless in the game, save for unlocking certain cosmetic items in the in-game store which, if you think about it, is kind of dumb.  Why would you restrict people from buying some of your vinyl decals until they hit level 20, 25, or 30?  They have added a new kind of event, drag racing.  And they have revamped the items and driver skills so that they have various stages of quality.

But the heart of the game remains the same.  It is a serious pay to win design.

The best cars are all for sale in the RMT currency, Speed Boost (or SB).  And while the best, four star parts and skill upgrades cannot be bought directly, you can buy an unlock that means you will win only the best items when you race.  You can still win such parts without the unlock, but they are exceedingly rare.  I have several dozen races in and I have only seen one three star item.  You can spin that as buying convenience, but it still smells like pay to win to me.

Probably the best thing they have done is the revamp of car classifications.  It used to be that a certain car was in a certain bracket no matter what you did to it.  Now each car has a numerical rating, and the rating is based on the performance of the car.  The rating is made up from the cars handling, acceleration, and top speed stats.  That rating then determines the bracket in which your car races.

The brackets are, best to worst, A to E, plus S for super cars I guess.  Your base starting car is likely in the E bracket but can be upgraded to the D bracket with just a few parts.  You can buy cars in better brackets and improve them further as well.

Ideally, what this should mean is that when you join a random race in the game, the match making process should group you with cars of the same bracket.  However, the match maker seems to be tuned to deliver more races over maintaining parity, so you will regularly end up in races that cover three brackets.  If you are the C bracket car in a race with a couple of A bracket competitors, you had better be very good or they had better suck.

And sometimes they do suck.

I have been the C bracket car and beaten the guy in the A bracket Porsche.  But it doesn’t happen very often.

So racing can be fun, but you really have to be ready for an uneven playing field.  And if your skills are otherwise modest like mine, you had best be ready for a mostly losing record.  Not that that has changed much over time, pre or post revamp.

And then Earl and Potshot joined the game.

More after the cut.  Pictures and long winded descriptions.

Race time.

As I mentioned, they picked the OTHER server, Chicane rather than Apex, which meant giving up all my current cars if I was going to play with them.  Annoying, but playing with friends is worth it.  So I rolled up a new character on their server and started fresh.  I invested in some Speed Boost, which got me a bonus car (A Chevy Cobalt SS! Look out!), but gave me something to buy a comparable car if they were out ahead of me.  And it let me buy another copy (sigh) of my all time favorite car, the Nissan Skyline GT-R.

This past weekend the instance group was not expecting to meet up in Rift.  The holidays send us all in various directions.  However, Earl, Potshot, and I ended up together on Sunday night in NFSW and so it was time to race.

The game lets you form a group and then run the various race courses as private matches.  That worked out great for us.  We each appeared to have a car in the C bracket, so we started out with those.  Earl, who is a Porsche man in real life… and who actually races his 912… had a Porsche Cayman

Earl's Ride

Earl’s Ride

I had the Nissan Skyline GT-R.

I picked the worst color on purpose

I picked the worst color on purpose

And Potshot had a Volkswagen R32.

Volkshot

Volkshot

So we went to the races.  Things we well enough.  My Skyline could slingshot past Earl’s Cayman in the right corner situations, but he would pull away from me on the straight aways, so we were often neck and neck.  Potshot’s ride though was coming up a bit short.  After a few races, we decided to swap to another set of cars.

We all happened to have a D bracket car.  However, Potshot was again at the short end of things with his ’65 Pontiac GTO.

Not a cornering vehicle

Not a cornering vehicle

A couple of races showed that the big Detroit iron was not keeping up.  We had to change something.

So we decided that we would all purchase the same vehicle and equip no extra gear, aside from cosmetic items, so we would all be racing on the on the same platform without any particular advantage.  Various ideas were floated around.  Being retro car enthusiasts, the Nissan 240Z was a strong contender for a while.  But in the end the we chose the Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione.

Potshot Xmas Lancia

Potshot Xmas Lancia

We all bought one, went back to our respective garages to decorate and differentiate.  I went with orange only because I happened to win an orange neon kit.  Earl went more rally style, while Potshot kept to his holiday green, red, and silver.

Earl with the 21" rims

Earl with the 21″ rims

And then we were really off to the races.

With equipment all equal, the races began to become close run things.  Finish times were tight.

Close Wins

And there was lots of smashing into each other while we cursed each other on Skype.

It was all hilariously fun.  We raced until past 1am Pacific time, which was 4am for Earl.  We ended up the evening in the meet event where you are supposed to be able to take better pictures because they offer a detached camera option.  However the camera controls were awkward, the day/night cycle was in night mode, which meant it was too dark to get many good shots (can we turn the stadium lights on please?), and in camera mode you cannot turn off the UI.   WTF?

So, instead, we just roared around the field, which was very slippery, and crashed into each other, sending ourselves bouncing around like a physics experiment. (This was before we discovered the snow covered golf course.)

There were a couple other downsides to the evening.  The first was the selection of race courses.  In my previous review-like post about NFSW, I praised it for having many course options.  However, that was also spreading out the player base too thinly.  So one of the changes since I last played was a reduction in the number of courses available at any given time.  That helps concentrate your players.  But you are also stuck with fewer choices, and after four or five runs at a course, we were ready to try something new.  This was not helped by the fact that we seemed to draw a night with courses that were somewhat paired up.  There would be a course that was from Point A to Point B, and then another one that was just Point B to Point A.  That was kind of interesting, but it did take some of the uniqueness away.

And then there are the stats.  NFSW keeps stats for all of your races, except the one you run as private matches.  While I can understand not wanting to lump those stats in with your public race stats… you don’t want somebody setting up fake races with a second account just to get a huge win record… it seems kind of a waste to just throw those stats away completely.  So while we got prizes and experience and cash, not stats were kept.

Still, even with all of that, this was the most fun I had ever had in NFSW.  I am pretty sure we will be back for another evening or two of racing.

I just wish the game had some sort of guild/car club feature, so we could make The Long Lancia Racing Society or some such.

Ah well, what do you expect for free?

Comments»

1. Wilhelm Arcturus - December 28, 2012

And if you are in desperate need to see us racing, I did capture a couple of our races. One of the Lancia races is up on YouTube.

Oddly, Fraps doesn’t seem to want to record my voice on Skype, so you can only hear Earl and Potshot talking. That is probably for the best. The sitar music was added later.

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