The Need for Speed series has had a turbulent run of late with microtransactions flooding the game and gameplay being left to flail.
In its place Forza: Horizon has climbed the ranks as being the best arcade racing game you can play. So how well does the latest entry in the Need for Speed series compare against the new king?
Publisher EA is behind the game once again with Ghost Games developing the title and there are so many great moments here that Forza: Horizon is going to have to pull up its socks if it wants to remain the king.
Fast and Furious: The Game?
Yes, I am aware there was a Fast and Furious game but Need for Speed: Heat (we’ll call it Heat from here on out) absolutely nails the cheesy tone of those movies.
You arrive on the streets of Palm City with bright eyes and a tank full of NOS. You are handed a car by the character Lucas and after a day-time race you run your first night-time race which is where you meet Ana, sister to Lucas. A chase ensues and kicks off a rather predictable story.
There is, of course, a dirty cop who makes your life hell and a mysterious person that is forcing cops to steal cars from racers. The voice acting is incredibly campy and cringey. Lines often make no sense and likely only serve to show you show you how into cars the the character is.
While it does remind me of Fast & Furious in some ways, the script isn’t exactly as “well crafted” as the films, and that’s saying something.
The first thing you need to know about Heat is that everything you do during the day is 100 percent legal. Going 250kmph in a 60kmph zone as a cop passes you? Legal. Destroy a billboard by jumping off of a poorly constructed ramp next to the highway? Legal. Smash your neighbours fence as you spin out of the driveway? Illegal. No, just kidding, that’s legal as well.
The moment that happens all you need to do is pass a cop car and a chase starts.
This is where the magic of Heat shows. Cops stick on you like white on rice forcing you to sacrifice your shiny new paint to destroy them or nail every corner perfectly to evade them. There is a fair amount of forgiveness in earlier Heat levels but as you continue to evade the fuzz the difficulty of the chase increases.
At night you will earn Rep and during the day you earn Bank which allows you to upgrade and customise your cars, which can also be purchased with bank. Rep is earned to as a way to eventually face the best of the best racers in The League as well as unlock cars for purchase which you will need in order to take on The League.
Unfortunately, if you manage to get busted at night, all the Rep you’ve been earning on that night disappears with your freedom. It makes the night racing a bit more high stakes and it honestly makes it a lot more thrilling.
One of the best parts of Heat is the ability to customise your car to your tastes or rather to your most garish of tastes but it requires a bit of time investment.
Everything you’d want to customise your car with can be unlocked by collecting items scattered around the world but there is plenty right out of the gate to keep you tweaking and painting for hours.
Designs can be saved and shared with the community who are able to apply them to their cars.
Aside from paint and decals, players can fix neon lights to the belly of a vehicle and add a cool tyre smoke effect for when you’re pulling sick drifts around corners.
The photo mode in Heat is excellent with a number of filters and effects to choose from to give you exactly what you are looking for or rather, looking to share with others.
The customisation of vehicles has always been great in Need for Speed and Heat continues that long standing tradition. Our only issue appears to be unique to the PC port of the game where some decals lose fidelity and resemble a pixelated mess. It’s not great but as we’ve only seen this on our specific set-up, we’re inclined to believe it’s not a fault with the game.
Worth the ride?
As far as arcade racing games go, Need for Speed Heat is the first one I’ve played in a while that has me going back.
The fact that I don’t need to drop extra cash on customisation or upgrades and can play the game at my own pace is wonderful. For those of us who prefer single player, that mode is 99 percent solitary with the 1 percent being the option to take part in Time Trial events where you can set times against other people.
Sure the voice acting can be painful at times but the actual gameplay is great. Collectables give you something to pick up en-route to races and the actual races themselves are fantastic.
Being chased during a race at night is exhilarating and day-time racing gives you the chance to soak up the beauty of the world Ghost has created.
Need for Speed: Heat may just be the best game in the series yet, and Forza should be worried.
Review code for Need for Speed: Heat was provided by EA’s local representation for the purposes of this review. Need for Speed: Heat was reviewed on PC.