Over the recent years the title Need for Speed never really held up for many. Me especially. And to be quite frank, it felt like titles such as NFS Underground 2, NFS Most Wanted and NFS Carbon were things of the past. Until I took to the streets of Palm City.
Need for Speed Heat puts players into the shoes of another wandering street racer looking for recognition. You’re new to the city, need a place to stay and although you don’t have a history or back story, you’re immediately trusted and sold a car to take on the streets. Of course, you can expect a few action cutscenes, tons of cop chases with a few crooked cops, and even an elite group of street racers known as the league. But most importantly, expect a TON of GORGEOUS looking vehicles.
A world split in two
Palm City is home to two different worlds. The city is split into two separate sections, day and night. When exploring the city during the day, players will be able to participate in circuit races, earning themselves Bank. This will be used for the purchasing of new vehicles, performance modifications as well as aesthetic modifications such as spoilers, bumpers, and rims. There is a rather large selection of customisations for players to select from, which is quite refreshing. What’s more, is that whilst customising your own vehicle, you’ll have access to an online share centre to not only view what other players have done to their cars in terms of wraps/paint jobs and vinyls/decals but will also be able to download the specific design for your own vehicle.
Night racing, on the other hand, is where the game truly comes to life. Players will take to the streets in night races and earn themselves Rep. Rep is used in a type of levelling up method. The more Rep you accumulate, the higher your Rep level becomes. Rep levels are utilised in Palm City to show everyone else just what a hotshot you can be. Well, that’s from a story point. From actual mechanics within the game, Rep will contribute to unlocking more vehicles to purchase from the dealership, as well as more parts that can be used to modify your car. Street racing at night isn’t the only way to earn Rep though.
The cops are coming down hard on street racers in Palm City and although they’re out both at night and during the day, it’s the night patrols you’ll need to really worry about. Passing a cop car during the day won’t cause the cop to flinch unless you deliberately bump into them which will then turn into a pursuit. However, at night, if you’re even just spotted cruising the roads, you’ll be sorry you took that pathway to your next available race. Cops in Need for Speed Heat can become incredibly challenging, although if I’m being honest, it’s one of the best cop pursuits I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a racing title. Once a police vehicle starts chasing you, a meter at the top of the screen hits heat level 1. The longer you evade the cops as well as wreak havoc across the city, the higher your heat level will become. Keeping in mind that with each heat level increase you’ll not only gain an added bonus to your overall Rep earned for that night but also encounter more aggressive and faster police vehicles. Not to mention a helicopter and a heavily armoured vehicle that hits your vehicle as if it were a rhino… What’s more is that if your car is totalled or you get boxed in and caught, you’ll lose all your Rep earned for that night as well as some of your Bank. So, when you see cop lights in your review mirror, it’s best not to slow down. Unless of course, you have enough Bank to bribe the cop. Yep, bribery is a thing on the streets of Palm City. However, players will only be able to do this at the lowest heat level. Once you’re “most wanted”, forget about it.
The Need for Speed
So, with the cars being able to go fast, look good and be modified to your liking, how do they actually handle on the roads and in races? Well, surprisingly easy. Don’t think of Need for Speed as a simulation racer such as the likes of Gran Turismo. Instead, think of it as an arcade racer. Put your foot down, don’t look back and as much as possible try and make every corner ahead of your opponent. There is a bit of skill to the racing though. Since some events include drifting only races and even off-road races, players will need to kit their cars out with different sets of tyres for each instance. Other modifications include suspension, brakes, the clutch, gearbox, and differential. Each modification will grant the player an advantage in a race, however drifting is a skill that’ll need to be learned. Releasing your throttle just before a corner and then slamming down on it whilst steering your car into the corner and then counter steering will release the Drift King or Queen inside of you. And this is only one way to drift.
We live in a world that’s instantly connected nowadays, so it’s really no surprise to see games bridging these paths more and more every year. The recent Need for Speed titles really tried this, but at the best of times just never got it right. Heat, however, does it just right. Players will be able to select from the main menu as to whether they’d like to play Solo or Online. Before entering Online though, players will be able to create a party of eight so that you and your friends can enter the online space together. The online world mirrors the solo world exactly so don’t worry too much about that. However, the online world also houses 16 players in total. This means a city filled with street racers be it day or night. While in this mode, players can activate races and challenge one another in the circuit races or night races. All while trying to avoid cops or take them on together. Needless to say, it can become quite Fast and Furious. That’s not all, players can also join crews that level up when the players earn Rep. As your crew levels up and players continue to race online, you’ll earn bonuses that’ll grant players additional Rep points as well as additional Bank.
All in all, Need for Speed Heat brings the…well…Heat back to the series. The story may not be an in-depth tale of love, sorrow, loss, and success that you’re looking for. But it does bring back all of the right elements that were given to fans in games such as the original Most Wanted and Underground 2. Palm City is also littered with mini-tasks to complete such as drift trials, speed camera speed runs and billboards to destroy. It also houses quite a number of exotic and legendary vehicles that every car enthusiast would die to own themselves. It also possesses a banger of a soundtrack, which if you’ve ever played Underground 2 before you’ll know, will remain embedded into your memory for years to come.