6345699NoneIt's a good thing that damage in The Run is purely cosmetic.
Unfortunately, as exciting as the racing can be, it's too often interrupted. When you wreck or go too far off the road, you're automatically reset to the last checkpoint you passed, and these resets can take several seconds. It's especially frustrating when these interruptions occur after your car goes ever so slightly off the asphalt. In some places, you can go off road without penalty; in others, even a slight deviation from the course immediately triggers a reset. These interruptions, coupled with the long load times that occur before races and for resets, sap some of the speed from a game that's all about forward momentum.
Other interruptions come in the form of The Run's much-publicized on-foot sequences. These extended quick-time events make up a small part of the game, which is good because they're not much fun. There are also a few sections of The Run where you need to worry more about avoiding gunfire from mafia cars and helicopters than racing effectively. These attempts to bring some Hollywood excitement to The Run backfire; it's just not enjoyable to constantly swerve to avoid the attacks of your mob pursuers.
Your total clocked, competitive time driving coast to coast will probably be a little more than two hours, though that doesn't factor in checkpoint resets and events you fail and need to redo. The Autolog system tries to fuel the fires of competition by constantly showing you how you're stacking up against your friends. But unfortunately, the game doesn't make returning to the cross-country race a welcoming experience. You can't jump to individual events; rather, you need to replay entire stages, which are collections of anywhere from four to seven events. This means you also need to replay any on-foot sequences and rewatch any cutscenes that occur in that stage. It's enough to make the prospect of hitting the road again a lot less attractive. You can also put your skills to the test by trying to earn medals in a series of single-player challenges that you unlock as you make your way across the country, and success here can unlock new cars for you to use on the cross-country run itself.
Screens like this are The Run's way of trying to get you to care about its characters.
Racing online against human opponents is more exciting than revisiting the single-player experience. Online races are divided into playlists that are centered on things like urban-street racing and muscle-car battles, so you can easily jump right into the kind of action you want, though you're locked out of a few playlists until you complete a certain number of multiplayer objectives on other playlists. These objectives include things like completing three passes using nitrous and placing fifth or better in three races, and it doesn't take long to open up all of the playlists. Flaws do mar the experience--your opponents' cars sometimes teleport around the road a bit or appear to fly through the air unrealistically--but it's nonetheless satisfying to leave human players in your dust.
It's frustrating, though, that whether you're playing solo or multiplayer, distracting text constantly appears onscreen to inform you that you just earned 30 experience points for drifting or 50 XPs for cleanly passing an opponent. Early on, you unlock driver abilities like nitrous and drafting with XPs, but once that's out of the way, most of the rewards you earn are just new icons and backgrounds for your Autolog profile. This makes the XP system seem entirely unnecessary, nothing more than a hollow way for the game to try to keep you playing.
Will video game police ever learn how to set up effective roadblocks?
It's a shame that The Run doesn't deliver more fully on the potential of its premise. It's bogged down by unnecessary quick-time events and annoying mob chases, a halfhearted attempt to tell a story, and frustrating interruptions to your racing. In spite of these burdens, the game frequently makes you feel like you're tearing across the varied terrain of this vast and majestic country. There are enough of these good moments--moments when you put the pedal to the metal on a desert straightaway or nail a hairpin turn on a twisty mountain road--to make this a road trip worth taking.