The Last Days of Palmont

The end of days has come for a few.  As announced by EA back in April, four of their online game get the chop tomorrow, including Need for Speed World.

Palmont is one of the fictional cities in the game, along with Rockport, and I had an idea about putting together a photo montage of sorts in the spirit of The Last Days of Pompeii. with the various automobile bound citizenry in terror of the coming apocalypse.

Palmont Police

How will they protect Palmont now?

Unfortunately, my meager artistic skills and lack of any real motivation conspired to push that idea so far past the back burner that it fell behind the stove completely, never to be seen again.  So my memorial will have to draw upon screen shots I have already posted.

Patrol Cars go Flying

Patrol Car apocalypse!

Already posted because it is a pain to take a decent screen shot in Need for Speed World, a fact I was reminded of when I returned to the game.  After the announcement back in April I ran out and downloaded the client.  Then, after figuring out which account EA had merged my old account into… seriously EA? Either use the same account to start with or be so kind as to drop me a note when you’re fucking with my user credentials yet again… I logged in, determined to soak up the last full measure of the game before it disappeared.  I had but three months left!

And then I logged off about 45 minutes later, never to log back in again.

I cannot say that the game never changed over its just shy of five years lifetime, but I am not sure it ever changed for the better.  It was a free to play game that went through all of the gyrations seemingly required of such titles in order to maintain its value in the EA lineup.

It started with the usual boosts for experience gain and cash rewards along with race-focused power ups and the sale of special RMT-only cars, some of which would be hard not to characterize as pay to win, but quickly moved towards a focus on card packs, which were just lock boxes by another name.

Meanwhile, game play didn’t go very far during the life of the game.  At one point levels were required to unlock content, but that was revamped and content… in the form of races courses… went on a rotation when it became clear that too many active courses meant that people spent a lot of time just waiting for others in their bracket to join.  So levels just ended up unlocking stickers for the car customization, as the race match making algorithm used car stats and not levels to bring people together.  Though even that was iffy at times, and during a slow time you could find yourself matched up against impossibly better vehicles.

And, of course, there were the cheats and hacks that plagued the game throughout its life.  Every race wasn’t so marred, but it happened often enough that if you played for very long you could see the patterns.  For example, I chose to avoid multi-lap races after some time as a hack that allowed a player to add a lap to the race, yet be themselves exempt from that extra lap, was becoming ubiquitous.  It became more of a race to see who could use the cheat first.  So that and flying cars and warping cars and cars with collision detection apparently turned off made random match maker races a particularly unsatisfying way to play the game.

But the most damning aspect of the whole thing was that there simply wasn’t enough to do.

The world felt small one you drove around it a few times.  Driving around in different cars could be entertaining, yet lonely.  As with the real world, we’re all together on the road yet along in our personal spaces.  Road races, as noted, became frustrating hack fests.  And the game was simply broken at various points during its history, with races simply out of action for days.  Drag races, added in later, were not even as exciting as the real world variety.  Police pursuits were good for a while, but the police AI had clear patterns you could spot after not too many runs and, after a certain point of escalation simply piled on so many resources that they could drag you down by sheer mass of wrecks.  And the daily gem hunt became a predictable pattern, unless you bought one of the gem hunter vehicles, in which case it was degraded to following a nav system in your own town.

Fairway Roadblocks

Yeah, that road block isn’t going to be very effective…

For me, the desire to log on was generally snuffed out when I felt I had done it all.  Achievements… not the best implementation, but not horrible… which came late to the game extended at least one run with me, since they promised me a special car if only I would log in and do something 180 days in a row.  But I was quickly out the door after that.

Which is not to say that Need for Speed World did not have its moments.

Just roaring around at high speed had its appeal.  Destructible terrain added some spice to things.  Nothing like mowing down a row of parking meters.  The controls were simple, but responsive enough and got the job done.  The selection of vehicles… which included some retro rides that appealed very strongly to me… actually got me to give the game some money.  I will miss my collection of Nissan Skyline GT-Rs.  And the car customization tools, while a bit clunky, gave players a lot options to run with.  There were a lot of very well done vehicles on the road.

Because who knows what TAGN stands for, right?

Not really a good example…

And races, when hacking was absent, could be quite fun.  Potshot, Earl, and I spent some time racing together in the game, and I actually managed to capture one of my favorite wins on video, complete with me bouncing off a Subaru to take the lead in the last corner, with Potshot and I in a pair of Porche 914s.

So good times were had.  And while in the long run the game really didn’t have enough there to keep me invested, it will be a bit sad to see it go.  I am not sure what else out there might really replace it.

I have read a bit about The Crew, but am seriously put off by anything with the Ubisoft name on it.  They seem quite keen to punish their paying customers for not hacking their games.  I use Steam. That is already the DRM solution in my opinion.  So then requiring me to use their Uplay DRM on top of that seems to be asking a bit much… too much for me to consider giving them any money.

I have also heard good things about Project CARS, but not enough to invest in the game.  It is on my Steam wishlist, but the last Steam sale didn’t see it hit the price threshold that would get me to commit.

So there we stand.  Tomorrow is the last day for Need for Speed World.  The last chance is here, and I am not sure I will bother to log on one final time.

Posts I have done about Need for Speed: World.

Videos I posted from the game: