Drifting around the car crash that was Need for Speed: Payback is NFS: Heat, but is this a return to the glory days or just another speed bump on the highway heading towards the nearest trade-in shop?
Making its debut in 1994, Need for Speed is a franchise that most gamers will have fond memories of playing. Whether it be Underground, Hot Pursuit or Most Wanted, most people have an affinity with the franchise but then everything changed. After 24 games, an oversaturated market and a litterny of mediocre releases, it seemed to many that the franchise had broken down on the hard shoulder.
However, in steps Need for Speed: Heat.
Revitalizing the series with a focus on arcade racing and adding new elements such as the day/night cycle, fans that enjoyed any of the previous versions should find something here to keep them gripped to the wheel.
Heat makes you feel like a badass and due to this, the game is accessible for all. Those who are veterans of the genre may need to crank up the difficulty to Hard but others should be fine to jump in at Medium.
NFS: Heat adds a new drift system, where the gamer double taps the trigger to start a drift. At first, I found this quite odd as it’s not what I’ve come to expect from the genre, but in no time at all, it clicked. It felt right and quickly I was pulling off maneuvers straight out of the Fast and the Furious films.
Some petrolheads may be thinking that this sounds ridiculous, and to be honest, it is. Focusing on realism, this game lets a lot of elements slide such as speed, braking distance, and handling and due to this, core racing fans may not enjoy this game; however if you are after an arcade-style racer, they dont get much than this. Outrunning the police at breakneck speed in the rainy evenings in Palm City is exhilarating and definitely worth your time.
“Wait!” I hear you scream. “What about the story?”
You’ll be glad to know that there is generic story to maintain your focus during your time on the game. The story itself is nothing to get excited about but the conversations mid-race does help to keep the story present through races.
With its 80s influenced neon colours and signage, I felt as if I was racing in the streets of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. The art style is a welcome shift from what is usually seen in the genre. This, coupled with the hyper-realistic graphics, visually, this is a treat for gamers. The weather and lighting effects are astounding. The rain pummeling the camera as you peer through the shadows to navigate the streets is adrenaline-inducing and will keep you coming back for more.
The game features a contemporary hip-hop infused soundtrack which perfectly complements the atmosphere of the game. With the authentic roars of the engine, the screech of tyres, and smooth beats seducing your ears, each time you visit Palm City, you’ll be greeted with a gang bang of audio delights.
I spent hours with my beginner car, tweaking, tinkering and developing its performance through the garage. Each modification had an impact on the car and all this adds to the feeling of being a street racer. Speaking of which, there is a clear risk/reward system in place with the street racing, meaning you can keep racing to earn more money and build your rep but risk the possibility of getting busted by the cops and losing it all. This adds tension and strategy to the night sections of the game making them my favourite part. With multiplayer, a robust solo mode and tons of cars to unlock there is loads of content to keep you entertained.
NFS: Heat was everything I wanted from the game. It’s diverted from loot boxes of Payback and shifted into top gear by embracing its arcade roots, so due to this, it has raced its way to a Thumb Culture Gold Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
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