You would be forgiven for coming into this game with low expectations given the past downward spiral of the Need for Speed franchise. However, this time round Ghost Games have brought back some of the foundations that made the Need for Speed games great. But can they do enough to get the players back on their side?
You select your character from a line up of pre-designed players, each which their own unqiue look. Once you select your player, you start your journey in Palm City as the new kid in town looking to make a name for themselves. Luckily there is a crew who happen to be looking for a new driver, and so your story begins as you try and take on the new Palm City police task force and build your reputation.
The game very quickly makes it clear that the bond you will make with your cars will play a big part in your experience. The customisation options for your cars is fantastic, there are plenty of decals and extras you can add on to build a car to your style. Compared to previous games the customisation is beefed up, bringing back that love for your car. Plus you have 127 cars to unlock, so you are bound to find one that you like.
Once you have your first car, its time to put your driving skills to the test. Lucky enough the game still has an arcade feel to its driving physics, which works well as you drift a Mustang around hairpins. However, it will take some getting used to, as its not fully arcade so the brake will have to be used to help at some corners.
The game is split between day and night, you can select what time zone you wish to play in. Time is locked, so the game will never naturally switch between day and night. You’ll need to visit a garage and manually switch it. Each time zone offers something different in terms of gameplay and you progress the story by playing in both.
During the day you will be taking part in sanctioned street races that give you cash as a reward for winning, cash that can be used to purchase new parts for your car or even new cars themselves. Night time offers unsanctioned street races that build your reputation instead of giving cash, building reputation unlocks new cars and parts to spend your cash on giving you a reason to play both time zones. The game is also very generous with the cost of parts, I never really found myself needing to grind to hard to afford upgrades.
As you explore the open world of Palm City you start to discover all the activities on offer. Billboards to smash through, gas stations to get repairs at, speed traps to set off and plenty of races and events to take part in. Just the driving around the city is fun enough to keep you entertained, plus the practice comes in handy for the actual races. Add in the extra events that open up as you complete the story such as; time trials and drift challenges and you will find yourself with plenty to do.
However, there are a few parts of the game that hold it back from being great. Firstly, the new police task force is a real pain in the ass when trying to earn rep during the night. You can’t just outrun them in a straight line and ramming them isn’t that easy. It ruined my rep collecting on more than one occasion. The game is also set at 30 fps which at times can take some of the edge off the game.
The biggest element of the game that I can see people not enjoying is the difference between day and night. Racing at night offers more excitement. The police chases, as annoying as they can be, offer a new challenge. The night race scene looks better as well, racing under the street lights as your cars neon lights glow on the road around you. It just makes the day a bit dull.
Need for Speed: Heat certainly makes a return to what the NFS community are looking for. The romance with your car, the customisation options, smashing billboards and building up your street cred. The game does have its flaws but these are easy enough to overlook as you speed your BMZ Z4 around Palm City competing in an all manner of activities. You will certainly get your Need for Speed kicks out of this game.
*This Review Code was provided by the publisher for review*