This year commemorates the 25th anniversary of the longstanding Need for Speed series and while there are gems in their back catalogue – like Most Wanted, Underground, Prostreet. But there have been some utter stinkers, more lately with the current generation of consoles.
It wasn’t until 2 years ago where Need for Speed: Payback reared its ugly head with its terrible story and characters so hateable that I couldn’t give a damn about how the story wrapped up. Gameplay that was so hollow and lifeless and completely gutted for the sake of milking cash, and as dull as putting socks on. There was no single redeeming feature in that game at all and is easily one of the worst games that I’ve ever played in my life and would even put it up there with the likes of Ride to Hell. Just a hateable game in its own right. (I can continue but this is a review of something different not a rant and a cry for help)
So, when I first saw rumours of a new Need for Speed game this year, it was met with exhaustion and dread. Shown at E3 telling like always, says fuck all about the game. This carried on for some time until some bits of gameplay showed up and looks admittedly rather alright as it must be said. So like any other person who after every FIFA game each year said: “im not buying next year’s edition”, I bought it, played it and here is the review.
Need for Speed Heat is set in the fictional city of Palm City, or as we in the real world would call it Miami, Florida. Where you after choosing your badly dressed avatar and other badly dressed people partake in the Speedhunter Showdown. A citywide racing festival which is all legal and above board, and yeah, it does sound very Forza Horizon-like. Night is where the street racing happens, and doesn’t really sit well with the 5-0 and their head of the High-Speed Task Force Lt. Frank Mercer who vows to crack down on street racers.
After picking your first car from Lucas – a local mechanic and former street racer. you’re then introduced to the younger sister Ana, then swiftly introduced to the world of street racing. Later down the line, you’ll find that the cops and Mercer’s task force ain’t squeaky clean by any stretch. So, in short, plot-wise it isn’t the most interesting plot in the world but enjoyable in a popcorn flick kind of film.
To the gameplay now and as mentioned before, there are day and night races. Races in the day are your standard races where you race for cash which you can buy parts and cars, with the police happily waving you on by – so far, so Forza Horizon, which isn’t a negative on the game at all. As I thought that it would have been the next step for the series after the success of the Horizon series.
In the night finds you racing for reputation which levels you up and allows you to buy better parts and cars, but this time the Cops will be coming for your ass. The more street races you do In a night the more aggressive the cops will come after you, but you’ll get more reputation if you piss the cops off more. There is a nice balance of risk and reward, although the only risk to you if you do get “nicked” by the rozzers, and the only hit of this is that your multiplier resets and some of your bank balance is taken away, which is a shame that they weren’t harsh enough like impounding your car like in some earlier NFS games. Both the day and night races strike a nice balance and variety, and car customization is still as extensive as before, though no longer tied to the cancer that is microtransactions – so it’s much better than before.
When starting off the cops are very much Robocop, not Paul Blart Mall Cop. 9 times out of 10 if I ever got into a police chase, it ended up spending the rest of the evening behind bars. But as I got better cars, the cops became much less of a threat, and pretty much anyone towards the end. Handling is as expected very much arcade-like, so that means power sliding around all corners is going to happen if you like being in dead-place, but it’s consistent and predictable enough which is fine by me. With plenty of races to do both day and night and side extras as well, there isn’t a lack of things to do at all. Given the low bar to reach was Payback, it’s quite a turnaround.
It’s not all good, there are some issues. One as mentioned is that the cops can be rather OP when starting out. Others include that like in the previous games, there isn’t a sensation of speed, so while doing lets sat 130mph felt more like 50mph. Handling while it’s easy to pick up, though it’s a bit simple, too easy. While there has been a considerable improvement it hasn’t fully converted me from the safe haven of Forza Horizon. This is definitely a platform to work on for future instalments, but other than this a nice pleasant surprise indeed.
Other stuff to round off, graphics are alright as expected from the frostbite engine, though much better looking when racing at night. The soundtrack is excellent and fits the mood, online is solid, and other than some odd physics reactions its rather put together nicely with no bugs and glitches to report.
So, Need for Speed Heat, while I had incredibly low expectations from the shitehousery of Payback. In the end, it’s been a nice surprise overall. By bringing it back to basics its captured some of the old magic of the old NFS games, with both dedicated races and street races where the cops can crash the party at any point. Cutting away some of the fat from Payback has done the game wonders and provides a platform to build upon. Yeah, there are some issues and it isn’t the most exciting game in the world. Heat is a nice surprise and huge improvement over Payback (though could have been done by blind people and that would have been improvement still) – Decent game overall.
Need for Speed Heat
Need for Speed Heat is a return to form for the series, by going back to its roots it's rekindled the old NFS magic - with plenty of races from the Horizon inspired day races. Right to the illegal street races, it strikes a nice balance between the two, and with the cops making a welcome return and being a credible threat, but this can be very OP when starting out. The overall plots a bit all over the place, and some other niggles like sensation speed and others can get in the way. It hasn't fully converted me from my Forza Horizon Haven, but a platform to work on.
- Nice balance between day and night races
- Extensive customization
- Cops are back
- Cops can be OP
- The sensation of speed is a bit crap
- The too simple handling model