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Need for Speed Heat Review

It's a return to form despite the cops piling on the pressure in the latest Need for Speed.


Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 15th November 2019

Need for Speed Heat

  • Developer: Ghost Games
  • Publisher: EA Games
  • Release Date: 8th November 2019

The Need for Speed games have been around for a long, long time spawning numerous incarnations of the series, some have been standout greats others been instantly forgettable and there are lots in between. For me, the last time the series really shined was in the early-mid 2000’s with Need for Speed Most Wanted and Underground, both games centred around illegal street racing and car customisation. More recent releases in the franchise have struggled but with the latest version EA might just have returned the series to form.

 Need for Speed Heat is set in the sun-soaked Palm City, where ironically it rains a lot. It is a street racers paradise, a city in which a driver can earn big bucks in the day taking part in legal organised races and by night a place they can build their reputation to super stardom by taking part in illegal street races and giving the local police department a major headache. Well, that’s if the task force that was set up to deal with illegal street racing wasn’t as corrupt as a mafia godfather. Yup, you guessed it, you take up the role of good guy street racer, struggling to free Palm City from the clutches of a corrupt police task force. Ok, maybe the way I’m describing it does the games story mode a little injustice because for the most part it has been written and implemented very well. It’s just that in my opinion, it doesn’t really need to even be there!

Set in an open world, the streets of Palm City are filled with various different races, drift events and hidden bonuses to find. It’s a tried and tested system that works well. The only criticism is that the race setting can be a little vague, it’s a small square divided into four quarters with one highlighted indicating the race conditions. The result, you take a car geared for track performance to a race meant for off-road vehicles. It’s only a slight annoyance but easily over looked when checking to make sure your car meets the performance rating of the race. Races in Need for Speed Heat are the usual circuit, sprint and time trials. There are also drift events and special races that progress the games story so there is plenty to do.

Playing Heat in its day time setting allows you to take part in organised race events for cash rewards. These obviously allow you purchase new vehicles and the games does have an impressive line-up of high-performance cars to unlock. Racing at night however, delivers quite a different experience! These races are all about increasing your reputation as a racer, building up your “rep” allows you to unlock upgrades, affect which vehicles you can buy and so on. The biggest difference in racing on a night is that these races are illegal so attract the attention of Palm City’s special police task force. This often results in the police giving chase during races. It can make for some extremely good fun racing action. Especially as the longer you avoid been busted the more pissed off the police will get and send ever more units to stop you in your tracks. Things can get extremely intense pushing your reactions and skill to the limit.

One area of the game that initially disappointed me was that the cars all felt the same in the early stages which meant I was a little reluctant to spend cash on buying cars that all handled in a very similar manner. Spending my “bank” on upgrades seemed like the smarter option. However, when you start to unlock the more elite tier cars then the difference in performance and handling is much more prominent, some of them corner like they’re on rails and are a joy to take out on the streets of Palm City.  

Prior to its release one thing Ghost Games did promise potential players was to improve the customisation options over its predecessors. For the most part this has been achieved. Some cars have more options for styling parts then others, such as bumpers, hoods and spoilers. When it comes to paint work and vinyl the game offers plenty of options for creating a custom and unique look. For example, as well as being able to change the rim style and size you can also paint different parts of your wheels different colours helping to create a style that is all your own.

Need for Speed Heat is something of a return to form for the long running franchise. It’s not perfect, the story mode feels a little tacked on, but for the most part it delivers most of what fans wanted. Good customisation options, open world race setting and fun, intense police chases all make this latest instalment well worth a play. 

Review Score: 8/10

Please see our review policy for details on how we review and score games.

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