Need for Speed: The Run

Common Sense Media says

Police-dodging street racing game sends the wrong message.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game glamorizes illegal street racing. Players zoom down busy streets in populated cities, with the goal of being faster than other cars that are also engaging in the dangerous activity. Evading the police is not only encouraged, it is necessary in order to win.

Positive role models

The characters in this game all compete in the illegal sport of street racing. In addition, instead of portraying the police as a positive and upstanding force, they are presented as enemies for trying to shut down the player's illegal and unsafe activity.

Ease of play

There are a variety of races and challenges in this game, each of which has a different level of difficulty. This is not a game for beginners, as the computer-controlled opponents will fully test players' mettle. Players will need to navigate around sharp turns, manage acceleration and breaks to their full effectiveness, and dodge obstacles in order to gain the coveted first-place spot. For many of the races, players will need to play through a few times to learn and memorize the track to know when and where to turn. The game is designed to present a challenge to veteran race game players.


While crashing is obviously not generally encouraged in this game, if players do happen to ram their cars into a building, barrier, or other car, the effect is glamorized and highlighted with slow-motion effects (showing realistic effects like glass shattering and vehicle destruction) and camera pans to capture all the action. In addition, there are modes of play that do actually reward players for crashes where points are awarded based on the destructiveness of the crash.


Female characters in the game are dressed provocatively and sometimes move in suggestive ways.


There is rough dialogue throughout the story mode, including swear words like "s--t" and "assh--e."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns: This game is playable online. If players have chat enabled on their console, they may be exposed to unmoderated language from real-life competitors. This is a setting that can be disabled on any console so parents should be aware of options, and select the ones that make their child's experience as safe as possible.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Need for Speed: The Run is a street racing game that places a lot of emphasis on dodging the police. There are even some scenes in which the police go so far as to send in helicopter units that shoot machine guns at the player but the unwavering message is to continue playing and avoid law enforcement. This game glamorizes the illegal sport of street racing and has little to no positive messages. If players crash their vehicle, they are sometimes rewarded with points and almost always rewarded with a glamorous, slow-motion depiction of wreckage and destruction. It should be noted, though, that measures are taken to mitigate the impact of the violence and unsavory behavior -- for example, humans are never depicted as being injured in car crashes, actual police officers are rarely seen (players usually only see police vehicles), and the focus is always on racing and mastering the controls. There is rough dialogue in this game as well as some suggestive content with women depicted in provocative outfits and acting with suggestive mannerisms.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

In NEED FOR SPEED: THE RUN, players are ultimately working to drive across the country from coast-to-coast. They engage in street races along the way, competing against other nefarious racers to earn money and recognition in the underground racing community. Some of these characters are downright seedy and underhanded while others come across as normal people; but they all share the same love of illegal street racing. The story depicts the police as an enemy force that wants to stop players from their dangerous activity.

Is it any good?


Need for Speed: The Run exemplifies the characteristics that have made the Need for Speed series one of the most heralded names in racing games. The graphics are beautiful, the controls are sophisticated and extremely well executed, and there is an addicting level of vehicle customization that will drive players to keep playing until they create the ultimate ride. The adrenaline of running from the police adds an extra jolt of excitement to this game, but only for players who recognize that in real life, what is presented in the game is dangerous and toxic and should only exist inside the realm of a video game. Fans of the Need for Speed series or racing games in general will enjoy the masterful presentation here, despite the lack of positive role models or messages.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the glorification of car crashes in this game. Why is this form of violence so appealing and is it different when you don't actually see people during the crash?

  • Would there be a way to keep the same intensity to this game while still offering a better moral message?

  • What are the negative messages in this game and what is done to curtail their impact?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Windows
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:November 15, 2011
ESRB rating:T for Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence (Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of Need for Speed: The Run was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old December 18, 2011

Need for speed reviewed by a 10year old

Need for speed series is all about surviving the race and winning. Need for speed does provide information about how not to illegally street race but no kid is going to play this game and then start street racing. I have heard Call of duty and other war tipe games will enhance violence and aggression also including language personally I hate the Call of Duty series and other war-type games not including monster shooting games but Need for Speed is a great Christmas present so yeah bye.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old February 5, 2012


What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byCloudIsC00L723 May 18, 2012

CSM should have given this game 3 stars. I rate it 2 stars for a reason.

The actual races in this game are a lot of fun and feel like I'm in a high-speed movie car chase. However, I cannot reply my favorite races in the story mode without playing through the whole game again. The previous Need for Speed games either have a chapter selection or a menu that allows me to reply races. Also, I don't want to waste my time playing through the story mode again because the story is stupid. It feels so unfinished and so confusing that it overall feels so unnecessary. I rate this game ON for teens because the language in the game can be harsh but it isn't constant. Also, this game centers around themes like mobs and one of the beginning cutscenes shows the main character strapped to a chair and with a somewhat scarred face, indicating that he might have been in a brutal fight. But TRUST ME you're better off playing Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit and reading internet FanFiction.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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