Review: Need For Speed Heat (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Need For Speed: Heat
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (26.7 GB)
Release Date: November 8, 2019
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Ghost Games
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £59.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

It’s always raining in Palm City. Okay, maybe not always, but if it were a real city then there would be cause for concern. It might be the reason why there are no pedestrians on the streets and many of the businesses and facilities have closed. The only time I see people is when they are crowded around the start and finish line of a race.

Gameplay:
Need for Speed: Heat is all about earning Rep and Bank (or as I like to call it, cash), with the option to play in either the day or night. A trip to a local garage cashes-in any earnings and cools down any heat. The day is all about organized racing events in cordoned-off tracks. The police presence is very low and it’s a good time to get some Rep and hunt for collectibles. The night has illegal street races and usually results in running from the cops.

While the time of day remains constant as I drive and race, the initial time does alter with each load. This means it could be the middle of the night or early morning with a hint of a sunrise washing over the horizon. Combine that with the changeable weather, which I’ll write about later, it makes for some nice moments.

Anyone who has played a racing game in the past would find the controls just right. I quickly mastered the drifting, but found the nitrous to be almost pointless, as if all the other cars got a boost at the same time and it never resulted in a significant difference to my placement. That is until I had progressed enough to unlock some large tanks.

This is definitely an arcade racer, as I can still smash through almost all the barriers, trees, metal posts, stone walls, and pretty much anything else, apart from the startline barriers that protect the people watching the race. The destruction has hardly any noticeable effect on my speed and is quite absurd at times. I can understand wanting the players to have fun without being frustrated by slamming into the numerous obstacles, but this game takes it to the extreme.

This unbridled freedom does have a few benefits. My car only suffers from cosmetic scratches and I have managed to cut a few corners in a race or when fleeing from the cops by smashing through a wide variety of objects that would total my car in other games. That isn’t to say it can’t be damaged from collisions with the police and the large immovable objects in the game, like buildings. Although, I was surprised to see the lifeguard huts tumbling down the beach after I drove into them without a care in the world.

Driving through a petrol (gas) station automatically and instantly repairs my ride. I can do this as many times as I want during the day but the night only affords me three visits. I don’t need to worry about hitting the pumps as they crumble like everything else and it doesn’t result in an explosion.

Police presence is almost non-existent during the day and I can even speed past them on the wrong side of the road without any consequences. The night is a different story altogether; quite literally in fact, as a large part of the campaign is only accessible during the dark hours. This is when the po-po often ruins the fun.

It takes a long time and several unlocked cars to find one that feels adequate against the incessant onslaught of the pursuing police. Luckily, the cops don’t seem to like doing jumps so I found that the best way to lose them in the early part of the game before I had a blisteringly fast car to outrun them.

During some night races I’ve noticed the police lying in wait. This has often resulted in a chase while trying to complete the race. These random events often just end up annoying me and the cops only seem to focus on my car. I also cannot Restart the race or activate the Retry straight after if the cops are in pursuit.

There is a strange glitch when Restarting a race, which sometimes fails to trigger the countdown and just starts the race, often resulting in the other cars leaving you in their dust. I also noticed the stat level of the car and the recommended level for the chosen race doesn’t always tally.

I’ve never been a fan of Drifting events in the many racing games I’ve played but this one seems to be more accessible than most. With a simple tap and then hold of the accelerator as I turn into a corner I can send my car into a drift. Depending on the setup of the car, I can hold that slide for quite a long time.

I can focus the handling of my car towards Race, Drift, Road, and Off-Road. It does make a difference and driving a heavily modified car on the wrong terrain can be detrimental to its performance. I naively wasted a ton of money on a car and its upgrades so that it was ideal for off-road racing, but even though the stats were higher than the recommended level, it chugged along and I lost. I sold it and swapped my tires and two parts on my sports car, which obliterated the competition.

Visuals:
The wind and rain effects in Heat are very good. The trees are blown about in a realistic manner and the distant rainfall sweeping across the horizon looks great.

The rain-soaked ground doesn’t alter the handling of my cars; now that I think about it, neither does racing through puddles or shallow rivers. Only the latter seems to slow my car down a small amount. The few people that appear in this game are oblivious to the weather and are just obsessed with taking selfies and filming everything on their phones, so the last part rings true I suppose.

The customization of the many cars in this game is impressive, and with all of the different decals, paints, and body alterations there can be some very unique rides on the streets. I like that you can also choose your character from what I like to refer as the ‘unusual suspects lineup’. The choice isn’t set in stone and the customization for them is quite good too, although the amount of name brands is ridiculous considering the sparse quantity of cutscenes featuring the chosen person and the fact that, aside from when visiting a garage, they spend the entire time in their car!

The only other time I see my character is in the few cutscenes that make up the short campaign story. Just like the older games in the series, the story is a bit silly but does entertain. It definitely isn’t what kept me playing.

Audio:
As per usual, with an EA game, Heat features many current licensed tracks, some of which I like. There is a slider to adjust the volume of the in-game music but no playlist tweaking. I am very tempted to turn down the police chatter as their pretentious ramblings are enough to drive anyone crazy, plus they only mention my car even when there are several other racers breaking the law.

Most of the narrative is done through annoying and random calls while driving on the way to a story-driven race. I can’t hang-up on any of these but can race on ahead, much to the dismay of the NCP I should be driving alongside. Don’t even get me started on the pretentious banter of the cops during a chase.

Online/Multiplayer:
Heat can be played online or in the Solo mode. I prefer playing it on my own. Mainly because when I pause the game it actually pauses it, unlike in the Online mode where it just brings up the menu but the world continues behind the scenes. A crew can be created or joined, and most things you do, even when playing Solo, count toward the Crew score.

Conclusion:
Need for Speed: Heat doesn’t have that wow factor but somehow managed to keep my attention for a long time. The sense of speed is fantastic, and the many collectibles kept me very busy for ages. It might be the ridiculous destruction that spoils the illusion for me. During a race I see massive trees and street lights tumbling down the road like some paper in the breeze.

I love the number of unlockable cars but dislike the misleading stats, especially of an upgraded vehicle. The police chases need refinement and the stat levels need adjusting. I did notice a couple of glitches that I couldn’t replicate, but nothing that ruined the fun.

Yes, this game kept pulling me back in, not for the silly story or side missions, but for the numerous races and collectibles throughout its large varied landscape. If you’re in the mood for a good open-world arcade racer then this is worth checking out.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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