Game Review: Need for Speed: Heat

Release date: 2019
Version played: Playstation 4 in 2019

The fourth game developed by Ghost Games in the Need for Speed series, Need for Speed: Heat is a 2019 racing video game, published by Electronic Arts. Set in the sprawling landscapes of Palm City, players take control of a new racer in town, hoping to join the vibrant legal — and once the sun sets, illegal — racing scene, but faces harsh resistance from the Palm City police, led by the merciless Frank Mercer (hilarious pun all mine). The game is split into Day or Night, with money being gained in the day-time races, while the after dark races help players gain ‘rep’, which grants access to better car parts to customise their rides.

+ the graphics are incredible. Your fully customisable cars will get dirty in dust/mud, get cleaned in rain and reflect all light sources fully dynamically. The loading screens feature showcase shots of your current car, and a camera mode lets you position your car for the perfect snapshot
+ in true Criterion/Ghost Games speciality, there are collectibles to find and destructible objects to turn to splinters littered across the world. Most are standard sorts of things, but every now and then a billboard is particularly fun or challenging to get to

– the story is lazy and cliched. New racer on the scene? Check. Boring family drama, with a missing parent or two? Check. A deranged cop who harasses the player to an extremely illegal degree? Check. If you’ve seen a Fast and Furious movie, you know what to expect
– I thought the game had a really poor licensed/song soundtrack, consisting heavily of South American house tracks, to the point where I went into the settings to stop all songs from playing at any point in the game, and opted instead for either pure engine sounds, or the intense background music of pursuits
– the driving (including steering/drift sensitivity, use of driving lines and barrier destructibility) is a frustrating mish-mash of Forza-lite realism and old school arcade racers. There will be no drifting underneath semi-trailers in this game
– the character creation is severely lacking, not to mention the frankly horrendous default character model choices. As I lamented having to pick one of the monstrosities to act as my avatar, a friend walked past and said ‘why aren’t there any normal people to choose from?’ Then once the story starts, the pre-set voice and personality doesn’t match the way I want them to look, they are all insufferable jerks, and I wish nothing but misfortune upon everyone I meet

> Josh Collins is great as the corrupt and unstable Officer Shaw. He is the only voice actor worth mentioning, for my money

Should you play this game: Everything in this game is done just as well, if not better in Forza Horizon 3, with the exception that this game has a narrative story. But considering that story is garbage, just get Forza Horizon 3 instead (or 4, if you like the idea of weekly challenges). FH3 is better than FH4 in every way, and even FH4 is better than this game, but that might be a rant for another time.

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