Need for Speed Heat review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Ghost Games
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

I can easily say that Need for Speed Heat is a far better game than 2017?s Need for Speed: Payback. It has better progression, a better story, better handling, and excises the egregious turn to micro-transactions that weighed down its predecessor. In general, it?s a pretty fun arcade racer. It?s also not the most exciting or unique take on the genre either, but something you?ll still likely have fun with if you?re willing to give it a shot. There?s not a lot new under the hood in Need for Speed Heat, but overall, it?s a pretty enjoyable experience. 

Need for Speed Heat?s big hook is the use of its day and night modes. During the day you?ll race around the open-world map, taking on races and events that allow you to earn money to purchase new vehicles and upgrades. However, switching to night will open up street races where you?ll primarily earn reputation points, which is Need for Speed Heat?s version of experience. Leveling up with rep points will get you access to better vehicles via the dealership, and more powerful upgrades for your vehicles. You?ll also gain access to more story events that?ll progress the overall narrative. Night mode also makes the patrolling police more aggressive and abundant, often interrupting races and chasing you down city streets. Get caught, and you?ll take a pretty big penalty to both your wallet and reputation score, but if you manage to shake the cops, you?ll also increase your heat score which acts as an experience multiplier of sorts. 

There are a few major driving disciplines in Need for Speed Heat, with events becoming more abundant as you make your way through the story. The majority of Need for Speed Heat is focused on street/road races, but you?ll eventually start to take on off-road and drift events as well. When buying upgrades for any vehicle, you?ll easily be able to tell what effect a part might have on your car, so you can easily tune for drifting, off-road, on-road, or a combination of different types. You?ll want to do this for later events for sure, as an on-road vehicle will not perform well in off-road events, and you?ll need to maintain drifts for a longer period of time if you hope to rack up the necessary scores to beat drifting events. It?s easy enough to switch between vehicles prior to an event too, so you can keep multiple cars in your garage and tune them to specific skill sets. 

There?s also a host of cosmetic customizations in Need for Speed Heat, buoyed by the community creations which are easy enough to access. You can also customize your driver character, starting from a pretty large number of preset characters, which can be further outfitted in different clothing options purchased via your garage. I was actually surprised at the sheer number of clothing options available, and you?ll get to see your character often enough via story cutscenes. 

Again, the actual driving portion of Need for Speed Heat is pretty fun. There is a pretty heavy emphasis on properly drifting, performed by letting off the gas and then pressing it back in quickly when going into a turn. The initial car you pick and the parts available to it make for some problematic drifting mechanics initially, but once you can upgrade your car you?ll likely have a better time overall. The only real frustration I had with Need for Speed Heat came from the super-aggressive police, which once they catch on to you, will hound you constantly. It can be difficult to break away from them, and even difficult to damage them in large numbers without crashing yourself. You?ll adjust to them over time, but some of the initial encounters were a little off-putting.

Need for Speed Heat gives you the option to play online with others at the start of the game, or in solo mode at any time. Playing online will populate your map with other players, and you can also join a crew (think guild) once you get through the early story section of the game. Other players can impact you at any time, even during races, but I rarely ran into anyone trying to troll my experience. If you do play with others, you can opt to have them join your events too, but I didn?t find a lot of people willing to drop what they were doing and join me all that often. 

Need for Speed Heat ran pretty well on a PS4 Pro, and overall the game does an excellent job at delivering a sense of speed throughout. Some of the street races that have you careening downhill through various curves can really kick your anxiety into overdrive in the best way possible. I didn?t run into a lot of technical issues either, outside of one or two hard crashes back to my PS4 menu. 

Again, I don?t think Need for Speed Heat does much to re-invent the wheel when it comes to open-world racing games, but it does help reset the franchise in a way that felt necessary at this point. It?s an enjoyable experience throughout, the story is entertaining if maybe a little too serious, and the overall progression path is well realized. If you?re hungry to get behind the wheel of a virtual car this season, Need for Speed Heat is likely going to be the game for you. 

Grade: B+