If the movies 'Cannonball Run' and 'Death Race 2000' got it on in the back of a Dodge Charger, 'Need for Speed: The Run' would be the spawn they’d battle for custody over nine months later.

It's every bit an action movie/car porn squeezed into a hyperactive video game, 'The Run' tasks you to tear up the nation’s highways in a cross-country race that will either turn you into a dead man (it will, hundreds of times over) or wealthier than a NASCAR crew chief (it will, but only after hours of effort and with pretend money).

There’s nothing wrong with dumb fun, especially in game form, but 'The Run' tests your sense of patience and gullibility to the extreme. The shenanigans start in the opening scenes, when a woman pulls you aside and stakes you for the 'Cannonball Death Funrun For The Cure' (or something like that) a race from San Francisco to New York with a cut of the profits if you win.

Things get wackier from there as players are tasked to pass a certain number of rivals and accomplish other racing feats in each leg of the race. Failure means you’re forced to repeat each race if you don’t make the cut. The die-and-retry mold is a gaming stalwart, we could literally feel ourselves getting dumber each time we repeated a failed leg. The action is at least thrilling enough to keep users leaning forward in their seats. It also helps that the game’s autolog feature tracks your best times, as well as those of your friends, and warns you when a buddy has run your score off the virtual racetrack.

'Need for Speed' games come out so frequently that it takes an impressive showing to stand out from the pack. While we liked the game, we can’t recommend it for anything more than a weekend rental.

RATING: 7/10

Need for Speed: The Run ($60), was developed by EA Black Box, published by EA and available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rated T. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at becauseitoldyouso.com and follow him on Twitter: @philvillarreal

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