NEED FOR SPEED: PAYBACK
By Jef "JeffAlpha" P. on November 13, 2017
Feel the need for m%thaf#ck$ng speed! It's payback time. For what? I don't know! but it's about to go down. NFS is back and it got longtime fans hyped. So why are people still so excited over yet another installment of Need for Speed? Well in my humble opinion NFS does a great job throwing a well working game changer into the mix every so often. Nothing against franchises like Assassins Creed or Call of Duty (I love 'em as much as the next gamer) but when you've played a few they start to feel pretty similar.
NFS adopted great arcade racing (back when Ridge Racer was still a thing) and came up with Hot Pursuit in '98. Running cop cars of the road was crazy fun. A few years later NFS Underground had me customizing paintjobs and decals for hours. NFS brought us everything we wanted in street racing. I'm talking about drag races, drifting and eventually even open world maps which work quite well. Let's see if Ghost Games, the studio responsible for this latest edition of NFS, raised the bar or comes up wanting.
NFS is not famous for their great storyline or incredible plot twists. Payback is no exception. In this Las Vegas like setting there is this guy Tyler and he loves to race. Well, he gets double crossed by this group of racing fanatics called the House (because the house always wins) and almost ends up in jail. In order for him to ''pay them back'' Tyler agrees to work for some other bigshot in town. Fortunately Tyler is not alone. Each member of his crew has a different racing style so switching vehicles or race types causes you to automatically switch characters.
Ready to floor it? Put the pedal to the metal? To go full throttle? Well then just push the R2 button and hold on. Everybody knows NFS is not about being a realistic, punishing racing simulator and that's the beauty of it. NFS is just about going fast in a flashy car trying not to crash (too often). Controls are easy to master and so are moves like drifting and using nitro. The formula hasn't changed much, the most noticeable difference in gameplay is when you change racing styles. Some cars are better for drag racing and other for off-road challenges. Unlocking buying and upgrading cars is all done in the NFS open world map. Upgrading is done by equipping card which change specific stats. These cards can be acquired at tune up shops or by winning races. Don't like your latest card? No problem, they can be stored, traded or sold. Not everybody prefers this system over buying car parts but it more or less works the same.
The game being an arcade racer, one would assume NFS Payback to be easy. It starts off that way yes but it becomes more challenging early on. Especially the emphasis on going off-road in NFS Payback makes for a welcome change of scenery. This also means having to spread resources over various builds. Grinding for upgrades ensures the player can keep up with the challenges and NPC opposition. For those who like a shortcut there is always the option to lower the difficulty setting or resort to micro transactions. Feel like you've outgrown the AI? Increase your rep online.
Something I've always loved about the NFS franchise is the sound. The creators make a genuine effort to ensure you feel the over the top roaring engines, screeching tires and crashing cars. Something I like even more than the sound effects are the soundtracks. They cater to different flavors in music, always feature both upcoming and established artists and sounds down right pretty damn sweet when you drift like a madman or overtake unsuspecting road noobs. Graphics look colorful as always. The game runs smooth and the day night cycle looks like what you would expect on a PS4. I don't feel like the graphics improved since the last NFS however.
Overall, NFS Payback is a fine addition to the franchise. Don't mess with success. NFS does what NFS does best namely being a fun arcade racer. The controls are very easy to get in to and the game never fails to look and feel cool. The whole off road twist works well. It gave the developers a chance to change the stage from the concrete jungle to an open desert playground. This also made for a fine excuse to add some off road cars to the game. As expected, NFS holds on to a winning formula while still giving fans new stuff to mess around with.
NEED FOR SPEED: PAYBACK
November 10, 2017