Need for Speed: Heat is the newest addition to one of the biggest and best driving franchises in gaming, but can EA handle the Heat or should it have stayed out of the kitchen?
Need for Speed: Heat comes just two years after NFS Payback, but it sadly doesn’t live up to the very grand expectations it set for itself. It’s a beautiful game in a very large world, but there’s very little charm or – dare I say – drive to keep playing.
The storyline for the game is about as uninspiring as you can get, which might have been expected of a racing game from a few years ago, but now there’s simply no excuse to skip out on having a real story for the player to follow. I’ve said before I find it difficult to connect with games that offer minimal (or poor) storytelling, and NFS Heat was no exception. The lack of a story made me feel very unexcited to jump into a mission, even though when I did, I had a blast.
Speaking of fun, that’s one thing that Heat does very well. With its amazing soundtrack, its beautifully designed world, and its satisfying controls, Heat offers you an amazing racing experience from the get-go. Whether you’re opting to play in the safer-and-less-police-filled Day mode, or if you’re putting pedal to the metal in the much more dangerous Night mode, racing in Heat is a wild ride. Clearly (and expectedly), the racing in the game has been the focus for the devs, it’s just a shame that this level of detail and love wasn’t poured into the narrative as well.
Of course, for those who don’t care about the story, there’s a lot to be said for Heat. Along with the campaign missions, world exploration and general races, Heat offers a standout experience when it comes to your vehicles. Not only does the base game comes with 127 unlockable cars for you to enjoy, but there’s also near-endless opportunities to customise your ride any way you like. Colours, stickers and decals will make you stand out in the crowd, while a huge range of build upgrades can give you the horsepower you need in any configuration you like. I put hours into customising my car and I regret nothing.
Graphically it’s a stand-out driving game set in an engaging environment. On a 4K television with surround sound I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was totally immersed in the driving, though this was somewhat short-lived. Eventually this just served to highlight how little was happening other than the pretty graphics. I had zero interest in what was happening in the campaign by the end, and was desperately working to not skip cutscenes.
The game’s Day and Night cycles are an interesting mechanic that I found more enjoyable than not, even if it was a little jarring. Day or Night mode can be selected at any time, meaning you don’t need to wait out the clock until the sun goes down. Although this is handy, it definitely took me out of the suspension of disbelief and reminded me that I’m playing a video game.
Day mode allows players to enter sanctioned race events with in-game cash rewards you can spend on upgrading your ride. Night mode will earn you reputation points which keep the police on your tail but are used to help boost your notoriety. I enjoyed playing both of the modes, but Night was definitely more up my alley and I found myself more interested in driving at night than in the day.
The driving controls leave little to be desired. They’re tight, easy to master and very smooth. Accessibility is clearly a big deal for this game, and it threw me right into the action with minimal introduction without this being a big deal.
Despite the many things Need for Speed: Heat does right, there’s just not enough there to keep me jumping back in for more. Heat is a really enjoyable game when you’re in it, but the second I turned my console off it was instantly forgotten, failing to make an impression for me. Heat crosses the finish line, but it’s not a 1st place winner leading me to wonder if Heat has been made for drivers and not for gamers.
Featured Image Credit: EA