Need for Speed Heat is a return to form for EA’s much-loved racing franchise. Ghost Games have finally worked out the kinks in their Need for Speed formula and have delivered a solid arcade racing experience this time around.
In Need for Speed Heat, players will take on the role of an upcoming street racer. Character selection is limited to a group of racers but thankfully you’re allowed to customize your selected player character with cosmetic items that you can unlock through playing the game.
Players will take to the open-world streets of Palm City in Need for Speed Heat. Palm City, however, isn’t exactly a racer’s paradise. The city has a ruthless police task force that is hell-bent on clamping down on illegal street racing and players will encounter them quite frequently throughout the game. Need for Speed Heat’s story mode ties into this and players will have to juggle their daytime racing and nighttime racing through a variety of story races. The story mode is enjoyable but does feature some tropes and cliches such as the overly aggressive cop and other details which can’t be mentioned lest the story is spoiled. Overall, it will keep you entertained throughout and if you get bored with it, the option to just race online against other people is always there.
Players in Need for Speed Heat will have to earn Rep by taking part in illegal street races at night and will have to compete in more legal street races by day to earn money or “Bank” as it’s called in-game. Race legal, make Bank, race illegal, earn Rep. It’s fairly straightforward and progression in the game is all about balancing the two aspects of racing in Palm City.
Daytime racing in Need for Speed Heat isn’t bad but when the nighttime racing shines in almost every aspect, players may find themselves wanting to only race at night because of how visually stunning it is and because of how much more exhilarating nighttime racing is. There’s something to be said about how great it feels to outrun the police and win a tough race while rain is pouring down on the neon-lit streets of Palm City. Driving is enjoyable with speed being favoured over realism. This isn’t true to life racing simulator after all. It’s an arcade racer where you can plough through trees and street lights with ease and not have to worry about slowing down the racing action too much. Ghost Games captured the essence of the arcade racer in Need for Speed Heat with very little in the way of slowing you down except your own inability to control a specific car at high speeds around turns.
The customization options available for the cars in Need for Speed Heat are greatly appreciated. Everything from their visual aesthetic to how they perform on the street in terms of nitrous boosts, their engines and their chassis are available for players to tweak. Many of the customization options are locked behind Rep or Bank costs but thankfully there are no loot boxes here. Ghost Games have learnt their lesson from Need for Speed Payback and Need for Speed Heat’s car customization is significantly better.
Graphically, the game is visually stunning. Palm City during the day looks fine and has quite a lot of variation in its environments but the game really shows its visual prowess at night. The neon lights, rain effects as well as the highly detailed car models are a feast for the eyes.
The soundtrack used in Need for Speed Heat features a range of popular Hip-Hop and EDM tracks with a distinct Latin flavour added in. The voice acting in the game does fall into the stereotypical cliche region in the story mode but it suits the game’s overall tone of street racers versus cops.
To summarize it all, Need for Speed Heat is a solid arcade racer with a neon-lit heart. The game’s story mode with daytime racing and nighttime racing will keep players busy for hours on end while the extensive car list and wide range of customization will keep more dedicated players coming back for more. Players could easily sink in over 50 hours into this game as they put their vehicles to the test in both the single-player and multiplayer online races.
Developer: Ghost Games
Engine: Frostbite 3
Genre: Racing video game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
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