Review: Need for Speed Heat
Need for Speed Payback was not so well received by most fans. The game promised new life in a mediocre era for Need for Speed. Unfortunately that didn't work. But, will Heat be able to boost the franchise?
Need for Speed Heat leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sales. This may be because the franchise has deteriorated considerably over the years. Fans expect a strong game this time, a racing title worthy of the competition. The funny thing is perhaps that the competition is not so great in terms of quantity. Games like Forza Horizon, Dirt (Rally), and F1, despite each being unique in their own way and quite different from each other, bring great quality. Can Need for Speed Heat bring the franchise back to a worthy collective?
Something that seemed quite unique was the ability to choose when you want to race. During the day you mainly race for a lot of money, in the later hours you mainly race for reputation. In the evening the police are quite active and you will often experience chases. That seems a bit weird, like the police aren't active during the day. However, this creates a different atmosphere when you step into the waddle during the day. The more you race in the evenings, the higher your 'heat' level and therefore the faster you attract police.
This is also kind of where the story goes. The police are angry, very angry. This ensures that the corps has received a budget for better cars. These cars keep up with your race cars pretty well. This sometimes feels a bit unbelievable, given that there is a certain catch-up system behind it. But, a big plus is that even though the police drive a bit too fast, the AI is a lot smarter than in Payback. You actually feel being chased by someone who isn't already crashing into himself without even realizing that you were being chased.
The story is somewhat above mediocre, as is the case in every race title. You come in a crew, there is drama, end. But, in Heat, I have to admit that the cinematics were quite fun and the characters have a good synergy with each other. The game feels riskier, and that's a good thing. You don't just lose the police. Which also makes sense if you follow the story. It's also quite rewarding to see your heat level go up, only to get rid of the police and get some nice rewards. All in all, there is little to complain about in terms of storyline and the police element has been handled much better this time around!
Palm City, the city that will make you unsafe day and night, is a double aspect. The city looks fantastic, is quite large, has a sometimes breathtaking color palette and offers enough content to blow through. The flip side of this coin is that the city feels empty. And no, I don't mean in terms of buildings. For a storyline that best focuses on the police and public opinion towards street racing, there is surprisingly little traffic in some spots and races. Besides that, you never see anyone walking down the street, and that in a bustling city? These were not immediately disturbing elements, but that makes the game feel a tad incomplete.
Despite that, Palm City is a beautiful experience to experience and there is plenty to do. The people who play a role in the story come to life in the atmosphere that the city wants to bring and that alone is quite a plus. You, of course, play an equally important role in this. You can choose from multiple avatars to play and dress them up the way you want. During my fifteen minutes with Need for Speed Heat at Gamescom 2019 , I already found that the clothing options were quite extensive. This has obviously not changed since launch. Playing with how your character should look is a nice extra as an RPG player. But also a nice addition for the shoppers among us. But dressing up your character isn't the only cool thing about the customization.
Build your dream car
In Heat you can pimp every car into your own dream car. You can customize a lot more than in most racing titles and this is a big step forward for the Need for Speed franchise. By the way, you can't just do this via your console of choice. EA has released an app where you can customize your cars, right down to the frame. The app is a welcome addition for the real fans who are constantly creating the most unique skins and set-ups for their cars and to share with the community or on Reddit. Whether the app will be a success remains to be seen, but it is more than welcome! By the way, the skins made by community members can be applied to your cars just like in Forza itself. Saves some effort!
Unfortunately, the community doesn't seem very active when it comes to racing. The game gives you the option to play always-online or solo. If you choose to play online, you can choose to compete with others at just about every race. I haven't been able to do this often, though, as you won't find anyone to play with in most races. This is unfortunate, as the challenge can be greater when racing online.
The biggest relief while playing Heat is the car handling. Your car has weight and you notice that immediately. For example, there are several ways to 'drift'. At sharp turns you apply the handbrake and you immediately notice that the game is an arcade racer, since you immediately slow down to the direction you want to go with your joystick. You can also ram the trigger twice to make a smooth drift. This takes some getting used to, but feels so good once you understand how it works. Driving your car is perhaps the most important aspect of the game and you will soon notice that the most attention has been paid to this, luckily!
Visually, Need for Speed Heat is not the most beautiful racer on the market, but it distinguishes itself with a great visual aspect: lights! The game uses a lot of neon and a wide color palette and this gives character and atmosphere to the game. The reflection on the street during a rainy night also ensures that the game works graphically. During the day you notice that the city is a sunny spa for racers and there is a good distinction between the two parts of the day. The cars also look tip top and there is little to complain about.
Need for Speed Heat is a mixed bag of content for the big screen or the fast monitor. The game plays nicely and looks good but loses a lot of 'edge' due to the focus on those two elements. This makes the game feel incomplete or unfinished at the moment. Still, Heat feels like a step forward compared to previous parts in these seasons. If the next title also focuses more on surrounding elements such as online play, people walking around and story, it could become the best NFS in years. Unfortunately I have to deduct some points for those missing aspects. Heat is well worth it, but not for the full blow in my opinion.
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