It’s been two years since the last NFS or Need for Speed game. The last one being Payback, which was plagued with microtransactions and loot boxes. Things were looking pretty grim for the series. NFS has been on a downward spiral since 2012’s Most Wanted, but it looks like Ghost Games have learned from the series’ past mistakes and we’ve got a pretty decent Need for Speed game on our hands in NFS Heat.
With NFS Heat, Ghost Games have fallen back on the age old cop vs street racer storyline that the series is well-known for. Is it as good as Most Wanted? For many, that was peak NFS storytelling, regardless of how corny or cheesy it was. Here, they’ve managed to weave the story into the gameplay convincingly. However, the story itself is so-so. The cast of characters all fit into predictable tropes and the story itself was predictable too. This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t enjoyable. Going through the story was still fun, and while it is pretty short, it takes a decent amount of time to finish because of the way the game is structured.
You’ve got a cop, Lieutenant Frank Mercer, who wants to put an end to the illegal night-time street racing taking place in Palm City, which is a Miami-like city the game takes place in. However, as things unfold, you soon find out that there are certain questionable things happening in the city which involve Lieutenant Frank Mercer. What follows is finding out what he’s up to and foiling his plans. They have gone for a very gritty, realistic, and sometimes violent, approach to the story, which is a departure from their over-the-top cheesiness.
Overall, the characters are decent, the voice acting was fine, but the story is not the game’s strongest aspect.
NFS Heat features the arcadey racing you’d expect from an NFS game, however, don’t let that fool you into thinking that there’s no skill involved. There is definitely some actual ‘racing’ that needs to be done. Especially once you hit higher speeds and reach higher levels of specialised races such as drifting and off-roading. This is where another important factor of the game comes in: customisation.
Customisation in NFS is not locked behind loot boxes or paywalls, which is a great move. You buy upgrade parts with in-game currency, which is fairly easy to come by, and they’re not even locked to a single car. You can unequip high tier upgrades from an old car and use them with any new car you purchase as well. Several parts affect your car’s ‘differential’, which basically affects how your car performs in different types of races. Off-road differential will make your car faster off-road, but slower on tarmac. Similarly, drifting differential will help drift, while on the other end of the spectrum, race differential will keep you from drifting for as long as possible. With higher tier parts, you won’t even need different cars for different events, you will simply need to tune your car for the event you’re going to race. However, having a different car ready to go for different race types is much easier, especially for the lazy ones out there.
Coming to currency, there are two kinds in the game, well really, there’s only one, but you earn two in the game. NFS Heat is split into Night and Day, and it’s not on a timer or anything, it stays Day until you switch to Night time. Now, any races you do during the day are legal races, so you don’t have to worry about traffic or cops showing up. The rewards for races during the day is ‘bank’, which is basically the cash you’ll use to buy new cars and parts. Or even bribe cops. At night however, you have a whole different set of races. Of course, unlike day races, these aren’t official, so you’ve got oncoming traffic to worry about, oh and of course, cops. Winning these races earns you Rep. Reputation is what you need to actually unlock better cars and upgrades. It’s also what you need to unlock story progress, which is what we were talking about earlier in the story section. So while you don’t actually spend any Rep, you can’t progress through the game without it.
Heat levels in the game go up to a maximum of 5. However, it doesn’t seem as impactful as it did in Most Wanted. Even at Heat Level 5, it very easy to avoid cops and get to a safe house without a single one of them spotting you. They just don’t have a very powerful presence. However, if you’re new to the whole cops chasing you and trying to wreck you, you might have a hard time in the first few nights of the game. Once you figure out how to fool the cops though, it’s quite easy to get them off your tail. Tip (more like, note to self*): Don’t try to outrun the cops, you can’t unless you have a ridiculously fast car.
Graphics and Audio
The game looks gorgeous. The cars look great, the location, Palm City, looks great. We really have no complaints. There was one visual glitch we came across where when we crashed, our side-view mirror would start spazzing out and wouldn’t stop until we got it repaired. This happened every time we crashed without fail.
The cars sound great too, we couldn’t tell you if they were accurate, but they sure do sound good. The sense of speed you get from the game is exhilarating, watching the world zoom by when you’re going at over 200 mp/h is something else.
The game’s soundtrack is very hip-hop and high-octane. They’ve gone for a soundtrack to get your pumped up for races, however, it feels very limited, or maybe a lot of them sound far too similar? We don’t know. We soon found ourselves listening to the same song over and over again until it got to the point where we just turned the music off entirely. Like we mentioned in the Story section before, the voice acting is decent.
Verdict – NFS Heat
NFS Heat doesn’t bring anything new or innovative to the table. However, it doesn’t do anything wrong either. Which is saying something considering this is EA and the NFS series in general hasn’t done too well in a long time. It’s surprising that EA didn’t push Heat more. We saw very little advertising for it before it dropped. NFS Heat also has no competition this year, since there’s no Forza or Gran Turismo coming out, so when it comes to arcade racing in 2019, NFS Heat is your winner. Who’da thunk it?
Developer – Ghost Games
Publisher – Electronic Arts
Platforms – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Played on – PlayStation 4
Price – Rs. 3,999
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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.