Played for just half an hour or so but so far so..HOLY FUCK I LOVE IT!!!!
I’ve been playing Need For Speed games since the 2nd ever Need For Speed (Need For Speed 2 – and yes I did have the “SE” version).
They’ve come a looooooong way since that, but actually even Need For Speed 2 was known for making use of the fancy new MMX feature of Intel processors – a bonus of which if I recall was making the smoke effects smoother.
I’ve watched them grow into the almost annual release racer they are to this day. Moan and cry about EA all you want, I’ve always LOVED the Need For Speed games, and they’ve never failed to disappoint me. The exception to this rule were Need For Speed Pro Street – which had all the sense of “Speed” of a Sunday afternoon drive with cautious granny, and Need For Speed Carbon (needed fingers like a fucking octopus because for some unknown reason, EA decided that racing, and trying not to hit other cars or a wall, was not enough to focus on – no, you wanted to call in assistance from helicopters etc, MID-RACING). Trust me that was NO fun.
But aside from those, this series has had a long, illustrious career. And this brings me to Need For Speed Heat.
About 30 to 40 minutes in and I’m totally immersed. I see EA chose to have this one made for a little cheaper – gone are the FMV scenes from the previous entry in the series (I’m thinking it’s a safe bet that voiceovers cost a fair bit less than filmed actors) replaced by somewhat realistic, but generally quite clunky CGI humans for a game put out at the end of 2019. But this is not a bad thing!! It’s almost a nostalgic air to the cutscenes, and the CGI cities in the scenes are beautifully, and intricately realised.
But to the game itself. You’re thrown straight into a race and your car already has nitrous boost – although this was very unresponsive when I did press the key to use it, and seemed to only work at all when it was completely refilled – I really do hope this was some anomaly of the intro race – because in the previous games it’s always been exciting to eek out what you can from your last quarter of a (bottle..?) to slip past someone in the heat of a race.
Then you’re presented with a character selection, which surprise surprise (hello 2019) has just about every race and all 2 genders represented. It was actually hard to pick out someone white from the crowd. You know, this is not in any way an issue for me personally but why not just have a head selection screen where you can DECIDE the race and gender of your character? It’s not that difficult to implement and it would please everybody. But presets it is here. Ho hum.
Then once you’ve chosen your character you turn up at a garage, and for reasons which aren’t really clear or explained, you’re offered a car to start off with. A lovely little collection – of which I chose the Nissan – it’s the same model that I used to LOVE drifting with in Need For Speed Underground (it was known for it’s excellent drifting ability). So it was an instant decision for me to pick that. Then it was off to try out a daytime race with my chosen one. Lost pretty fucking badly at that. Then after taking up my initial contact’s offer to fit nitrous to my car (which resulted in nothing at all happening when I pressed the nitrous key), meeting up with some garage girl (my term there) I went on to lose even more badly at my first night race.
After the race I was spotted by police and after a bit of a thrilling chase managed to evade them, and right now the world is my oyster. And I have to say – WHAT a world. The streets are stunningly realised, and the graphics look every bit the shiny, meaty arcade style racer that’s fit for the present.
All of the traditional Need For Speed elements are present and correct:
- Thick palm trees and lamp posts snap like twigs when you drive into them at speed
- Smack into a wall at full speed and absolutely nothing happens to your car other than a few dents – bit of T-cut should sort those out
- Drive head on into a fucking great lorry at 119mph and nothing happens
- Even on the so-called “Ultra” graphics settings my PC breezes through the graphics – this doesn’t necessarily mean my PC is the gaming beast of all gaming beasts, it points more towards the usual very slick coding
There’s also about 4 camera views – but still none of them are a proper in-car view with the steering wheel and dashboard. This is not a big deal to me – I can live without it, but it is a bit odd, when Need For Speed II did have such a view…
Okay confession time I do own Need For Speed Payback but I’ve not yet got around to trying it out – and I’ve just seen a screenshot that apparently shows that proper in-car driving view. So excuse my ignorance on that one but I don’t recall any of the other street racing ones do.
This is my experience so far! And I’m really, really impressed. Sorry 2020 but it’s too late to remove the police now as they’re one of the main features in the game, and integral to the storyline. I’m sure you’ll stop wailing eventually about that one.
I can’t wait to get back to it and get my car all beefed up. The game feels alive, purposeful, rich and immersive (especially with the sound up).
The only downer was quitting out of the race then having to wait at least 20 seconds for the menu to load to enable me to quit the game. Yes, that long for a menu to load. No excuse for that level of slow these days!
But overall? Bloody brilliant. I’m in love all over again. Roll on, Need For Speed!! And here’s what’s coming next in the franchise!