Name: Need for Speed: Heat
Developer: Ghost Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 and PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose
Need for Speed has been and hit and miss the last couple of years, with many games that struggle to find it’s placement in the racing genre. But I would like to say straight away, that this time they have done so much that I hope sticks. It manages to bring back much of the same feeling I got from the Underground games.
NFS cuts to the chase- The cops and citizens are sick and tired of the illegal racing scene. The police lead by lieutenant Frank Mercer, which is as rough as he is corrupt. He formed the High-Speed Task Force to get a hold on the situation. From there it is basically as it always is, the new kid in town gets to know some people and they want to have changed. Who those are, are the siblings Lucas and Ana Rivera. Lucas was a really good racer in the past, but changes his way and would rather spend his time fixing cars. Ana, on the other hand, wants to be the next best trying to be more known than her brother ever was. She leads one of the crews that are part of the racing scene in Palm City. The story by itself isn’t anything new, but it works as the red line for the gameplay. The cops are the as usual asshole, and the racers are fun people that love to race and love their cars.
Need for Speed: Heat looks as good as expected, the game engine works really well with the lighting and details of cars. Everything looks great in action and the night will bring nostalgia to those of us that played NFS during the early 2000s. Cars with neon and decals that bring you back to the first race in Fast and the Furious. That it looks Night and Day, while a fun pun also true. One thing that it seems like it struggled with was textures popping in like they don’t always get loaded right. Decals on cars look smudged, and the colors seem off, but also the environments and characters struggle at times with the same. That can make some really disturbing cutscenes, had this only been a problem while the game is loading it wouldn’t have been such a problem. But, since this can happen at any time, and be stuck that way until you restart the game it was at times annoying. Then there was one thing that is the reason I ended up reviewing on both PS4 and PC. Convenience is one of them, but the one that ruined the most was the framerate. It might be me being a snob “PC MASTER RACE”, but one key point is that the console version is locked to 30fps, stable 30fps should be mentioned but that should be obvious. So, I ended up playing on PC instead, except for the framerate the detail levels were pretty similar.
Need for Speed: Heat aims for easy and fun racing, enjoyable for everyone. I would think it is safe to say that they have achieved that. How the game balance how you proceed, and how the day and night cycle works is pretty smart. When the sun still shines you take part in legal races, that accumulate the money for cars and upgrades. But to unlock new cars and parts to upgrade, you will drive in the night to gain rep points. The higher the rep, the more cars and parts you will get to make the car your rivals only will see the brake light from. What makes the night tougher is that the cops will be on your ass always trying to bust you. If they are after you you will gain heat, which will make them harder to escape from and their aggression will be higher. It also brings high risk, high reward system. Since everything you gain from races and other illegal activities isn’t safe until you drive to the nearest safe house and end the night. The higher your heat level is the more it is multiplied, but if you get caught your score will take a big hit. And trust me it feels so sour when you lose almost everything you worked so hard for, because I couldn’t handle all the cops chasing me or if I crashed my car too much. Luckily there are some upgrades you can put in your car to counter some of their tactics, which will help immensely like radio jammers and ant-kill switches.
Then there is the customization, which is one of the reasons to love NFS: Heat. There is a lot to do with the visual, to make the car that fits you. Every part of the car have parts to change, it can change the whole look and feel of the car. Even my Volvo 245 ended up looking like this badass tuner car, with huge rims and color splashing decals. And have you ever played any game that you can customize the sound of the exhaust? Because here you can make your cars sound like an aggressive beast spitting flames, or to the more subtle and fast car. Performance parts are categorized and have different classes, and have different attributes. You can choose what the car should specialize in, from track to offroad or drifting.
Need for Speed: Heat has a good sense of balance and progression. When you’ve had an intense night of racing, the daytime events come a welcome relief, and the way you earn different things in each half of the game is a neat idea. There are also several smaller details I like, such as the way you can zip through a garage to instantly repair your car, even during a race, and how each event clearly displays the recommended car level, so you know exactly how likely you are to fare. But I found some weird balancing issues with the difficulty, often if I took part in races higher level than me. Often most of those I’m racing is easy enough, but then there is always one that is impossible to get in front of. I’ve had races where I have taken the lead with one lap, but one guy won’t budge at all unless he randomly crashed with some poor bystander. How I progressed was pretty much at my own pace, how much I wanted to focus on making money or gambling getting massive heat in the night and bank in big rep points.
NFS: Heat controls and feels like an arcade, where drifting in 100km/t is a safe way to take corners. During Gamescom 2019 we learned that there wouldn’t be support for steering wheels, that was really disappointing news. But, now after been playing I have understood that there would be difficult to match how the game controls with a wheel. Cars are snappy and responsive, and no turn is too difficult. It is simple and fun and easily approachable. It took some time to figure out the “physics” but when I first got a hold of it, I had a great time.
It won’t be difficult to spend time in Heat, after playing through the story I’ve only bought like five cars. I will still need to win more cash and gain rep to get MORE! For the collector, There are tons of collectibles scattered around the city and more than enough races to still take part in. there is also the side mission that can bring some great parts to use on your cars. If you are tired of playing alone gather your friends and start a crew to further create chaos around Palm City
Story - 6/10
Graphics - 7/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Controls - 8/10
Replay Value - 9/10
Need for Speed: Heat brings back much of what we have missed in previous installments. It shows that they are headed back on the right track to bring back the NFS franchise to its glory days. Some things need to be worked out, but much has been done right. The night and day system made the gameplay more diverse and made two completely different feels of the game.
- Great car customization
- Day and Night gameplay
- Easy and fun driving
- Graphical glitches
- Inconsistent difficulty