Need for Speed 2015

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Disability Game Review: Need for Speed 2015

Disability Game Review: Need for Speed 2015

2015 saw yet another Need for Speed reboot. While the game has been met with mixed reviews from the broader gaming community the question remains, how does this latest title stack up for gamers with physical impairments.

Players with visual disabilities will have the least trouble accessing this title. This is because nothing in the game seems to rely on the ability to see fine detail. For example the minimap shows you the route you need to take during a race but the route is also displayed using easy to see arrows on the road in front of you. Similarly the icons on the minimap can be hard to distinguish but interpreting the map is not as important as seeing what’s in front of you which is easy enough despite possible visual impairments. Need for Speed is not perfect in this regard however as it does suffer from lack of contrast issues that while not significant will be inconvenient for most color blind gamers. Certain elements of the HUD such as: different colored icons on the minimap, the speedometer and other non-vital information also have this problem but the game can still be enjoyed in spite of these barriers.

The case is very similar for gamers with auditory disabilities. The game features a cheesy storyline that can be fully subtitled and nothing in the single player mode requires the ability to hear. Well almost nothing, the corny in game dialogue serves to give the player missions they can complete and most of these are delivered through a cell phone gimmick that allows players to see what new missions pop up. There is an icon that tells when the cell phone is ringing but in the heat of the race it is often easy to miss since it is not in a prominent place in the HUD. However with a little bit of discipline deaf and hard of hearing players can get into the habit of checking their “phone” thereby rendering the sound effect superfluous.

The real problem arises for gamers with fine motor disabilities. Need for Speed features one of the most thorough car customizations that I’ve seen in an arcade style racer. This in theory makes the game more accessible since players can design a car that fits their driving style around their physical disability. The problem is that once you have a customized car it will be very difficult to do anything with it. This game has absolutely no controller customization whether in sensitivity or controller layout. As a result players may have to contort their hands if they can’t naturally reach the triggers and sticks at the same time. This principle also holds true for the campaign itself. While the theory is that the players pick and choose what missions they want not long after starting the game all the NPC characters were offering me for mission choice was the very difficult and very unforgiving drifting missions. No doubt if I had been able to get pass these, more types of missions would have opened up but because of my lack of drifting skill I had no other option but to stop playing the game. That said the hard core racing fans who feel like using customizable hardware still will get some enjoyment out of Need for Speed it’s just a shame that this reboot was so inflexible.

Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: Xbox One, PS4, PC
ESRB Rating: T
GameInformer Score: 7

Written by: Josh Straub

At the end of his internship with GameInformer magazine, Josh Straub graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a degree in creative writing and history. His earliest gaming memories are of looking over his father’s shoulder while he played Warcraft 2. While these experiences gave him a deep appreciation for the RTS genre, Josh seeks to play games across all genres and platforms due to his interest in game accessibility for the disabled. This interest stems from too many experiences in which he has hurled his controller across the room after finding out that a game was inaccessible, due to his Cerebral Palsy. Because of his wide exposure and interest in games, Josh appreciates the story of a game more than any other element, especially because the stories of the games of his childhood provided him with an invaluable sense of escape from his disability.

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