What is it?
The latest entry in the Need for Speed series takes players to Fortune Valley (a fictional version of Las Vegas) and follows three characters and their journey to take down a nefarious cartel that rules the city’s criminals, cops and casinos. It almost feels like Fast and Furious, complete with high octane care chases and over-the-top blockbuster action set pieces.
Is it any good?
It feels good to be back in Need for Speed after a two year gap, tearing up the roads and collecting cars that shine like gems in the open sun. It’s fair to say that 2015’s reboot failed to impress fans, but Payback aims to correct its mis-steps and starts by bringing back a sorely missed feature: the pause button. It might seem small, but being able to take a breather and play the game offline without a constant connection felt more enjoyable, not to mention more relaxing.
Fortune Valley’s large open world is filled with a wide variety of race types. There’s so much to get stuck into and, overall, I had a lot of fun mastering each vehicle class, especially when it came to drifting. As usual, a huge collection of cars are available to purchase and customise to your liking, however, most of the cool custom items lie behind randomised ‘card packs’ that can also be purchased – yes, not even Need for Speed can escape from the controversy of loot boxes.
Telling a tale of revenge, Payback wouldn’t feel out of place in a Fast and Furious film: it’s backed up by a B-movie script and features a series of action movie levels. Funnily enough, compared to 2015’s Need for Speed, I actually missed the lack of live action cutscenes and the computer generated alternatives ended up feeling a bit naff in comparison.
Anything bad to report?
The scripted story, scripted police chases and unrealistic car damage rank high on my list of issues. Not only that, but I also disliked the fact that its multiplayer felt like an afterthought and I missed the interconnected, populated world of the last Need for Speed. It would have been nice to explore Fortune Valley with a friend, instead of being confined to closed off races in a separate mode outside of the story campaign.
It’s hard to see the great sense of community that the Forza Horizon series has managed to build over the years, because Need for Speed could learn a lot from that series – including the addition of a cock pit view.
Also, screw the loot-box-like-mechanisms that govern the availability of items.
Should you buy it?
This latest Need for Speed may not be the best, but it’s also not the worst. Fancy some slick racing and a focus on offline single-player rather than the constant online connection of the last game? This may be worth your time.