E3: We play Need For Speed Rivals, chase street racers [w/videos]

Need For Speed Rivals, the newest instantiation in a long-running franchise, has made plenty of news in and around this year's E3 show. We first heard about the game and its availability on both Xbox One and Playstation 4 some weeks ago, and the Hollywood media machine has pumped out plenty of news regarding the upcoming Need For Speed movie, as well. Hell, we even got a detailed look at the NFS version of the Shelby GT500 a few days ago. To the respective PR departments of Electronic Arts and Dreamworks Studios, we salute you.

Of course, as racing-gamers, we were most excited to sample Rivals for the first time here in Los Angeles. Electronic Arts was kind enough to give us a short walkthrough and backgrounder about the game, before turning us loose on the pre-alpha version of the software.

Need For Speed Rivals lives in the same basic universe as its forbearers – street racers, cops, loads of cars and ultra fast-paced action – but for the first time ever offers two separate-but-related playing modes. Gamers can choose to drive as street racers, running from the police, or as the police themselves, hunting down the law-breaking racers. Both sides have "weapons" of a sort to aid in their capturing/running causes, including EMP-firing guns, spike strips, turbo boosts and more. The guys from Ghost Games, the studio-within-a-studio inside of EA, told us that there will be lots more weapons to choose from and upgrade when the game is finished.

The game's new Alldrive system is certain to bring out the best in Rivals' party-style action.

Of course, with street racers running metal as exotic as the franchise halo-car Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, " cop car" takes on a whole new meaning in Rivals. We piloted a Koenigsegg Agera R as we chased down the bad guys, complete with a black-and-white livery that's so wrong it feels right on the Swedish supercar.

Gameplay was every bit as raucous and frenetic as in past Need For Speed titles, but with a realistic enough physics engine powering the vehicles that we didn't feel completely hung out to dry in terms of dynamics. Mostly though, Rivals is a game that begs for the sort of trash-talking, one-upmanship that is perfected with online co-op play. The game's new Alldrive system, which effortlessly merges single-player and multi-player action, is certain to bring out the best in Rivals' party-style action.

And, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that, especially for an arcade-type of racing game, Need For Speed Rivals is downright lovely to look at. The car modeling might not be completely up to the standard newly set by Forza 5, but the lush, colorful and rapidly adapting environments are a pleasure to take part in. Check out the videos below for more.

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