Y’know, the collective chatter amongst Kotaku writers has unofficially dubbed Need for Speed Rivals as the best next-gen game so far. Several among us have raved about the way it draws you in and entices you to keep playing. But, man, the lines coming out of the characters’ mouths in this racing game are terrible.
As seen here, Rivals’ first-person spoken text pops up in the game’s cutscenes and when you’re choosing a Speedlist of activities. They essentially form an internal monologue for the character that you’re supposed to be embodying, in either the Racer or Cop campaigns. It’s not the kind of dialogue you get in, say, a Mass Effect game. But that does not excuse the awfulness of lines like “You are asleep. I am awake.” Really?
In my review of the latest Need for Speed, I said that neither side of Rivals’ opposing factions are likable. The dialogue that’s responsible for that feeling creates a weird dissonance while playing. You want to best Rivals‘ challenges to prove your skill but the ham-fisted bluster surrounding the in-game action deadens the thrill of it. Thankfully, the instances where you have to listen to bro-tastic psyche-yourself-up talk are few. Still, you’ll wince every time you hear one of those gravel-voiced snippets.
With most games, the cutscenes and little bits of character insights delivered in spoken dialogue are supposed to be little rewards that draw you deeper. In Rivals, though, they’re laughable and clunky. For all the sizzle of Rivals’ design and visuals, it’s pretty clear that not all of this Need for Speed’s components got an upgrade.