Adrenaline and high speed.
Version tested: PC.
All fans of arcade racing games have played one at least once Need for Speed, and we are sure that almost everyone will remember or at least have heard of Underground 2, to date still the best chapter of the series since 2004. A title as technically limited (if compared to the present) as very rich in terms of gameplay, of which it is it is impossible to forget the deep tuning system of the cars, especially from an aesthetic point of view.
After Carbon, released in 2006, Need for Speed then began to move away from the "tamarra" game formula, the one in which the greatest satisfaction of each player was in processing each machine beyond belief, to migrate towards new experiences more or less appreciated by the public which, unfortunately, did not most had the original flavor.
This year, the series celebrates its 25th birthday, an undoubtedly important milestone that deserves to be celebrated with a chapter worthy of the name it bears. The new title is called Need for Speed Heat and is again developed by the guys of Ghost Games, already authors of the predecessor Need for Speed Payback (HERE you can find our review) and a couple of other episodes.
The hope that the saga can return to the glories of the past we have not yet lost, so we just have to find out if Heat has been able to bring back Need for Speed on the “throne of exhausts” (pass it to us) or if, on the other hand, he is satisfied with a superficial service.
Cops on report.
What's better than an adrenalin-fueled clandestine race through the streets of the city? Obviously, a clandestine competition with no unwelcome guests who could interrupt it. But a Palm City Times are getting tough, because the city police, in the figure of Lieutenant Frank Mercer, have decided to tighten their grip on illegal racing in order to ensure maximum safety and tranquility on the streets. For the "transgressors", however, this is nothing more than an incentive to make the situation even more stimulating, giving rise to a risky carousel driven by speed, driving dexterity and escape skills on which only the most experienced can climb and stay without getting hurt (and not just metaphorically).
It is precisely in this good level narrative plot that our protagonist will try to stand out, whose appearance can be selected from a roster of 12 predefined characters with an unmistakable tamarro style, including one who has nothing to envy to Luis Fonsi. As in any self-respecting chapter of Need for Speed, the goal will be to climb the ranks to establish ourselves among the best drivers of the clandestine street scene, inevitably starting from the bottom driving low-performing cars.
Il Need for Speed Heat's fleet of cars can count on over 30 brands for a total of more than 120 models, from the most classic such as the 3 BMW M1988 or the '65 Ford Mustang to the most extreme racing cars such as the Lamborghini Aventador S or the McLaren600LT. We all know, however, that the game cannot be truly worthy of the title it brings if it does not enhance the modification of cars: to the delight of all tuning lovers, Heat offers a decidedly rich and varied processing system able to wink at the best chapters of the series. In particular from the aesthetic point of view, the myriad of options to put your hand to allow you to give life to the most disparate bodywork customizations. Decals, rims, side skirts, lights, hood and mirrors are just some of the modifiable components, to which is also added the possibility to choose the sound of the exhaust and the color of neon underbody, nitrous and tire smoke. Whatever your project, in short, it will hardly remain in your imagination and you can even share it with other users.
The mechanical processing is less extensive but still satisfactory, in which we will be able to individually modify various components such as the control unit, the brakes, the N2O system and the differential up to completely change the engine with pre-configured kits that save the effort of tinkering with various options. As the role of the police is quite marked in Need for Speed Heat, Ghost Games has also decided to include active and passive auxiliary bonuses that can come in handy during raids with cops. To get rid of the steering wheels faster, for example, we can release a radar jammer or, if direct contact is preferred, take advantage of an increase in damage to vehicles; again, we will be able to choose a support bonus that allows us to repair the vehicle in the race for a limited number of times. Speaking of the latter case, yes, our car will suffer damage depending on the force of the impact, thus forcing us to adopt a reasoned guide especially in chases: every door (or even errors that lead to crashing into other vehicles) will worsen the conditions, with the risk of ending up arrested due to engine failure. The only way to repair the car without having the aforementioned bonus is to go through the various petrol stations scattered around Palm City, although this is necessary if you decide to be the architects of long shadowing. This damage feature, in all honesty, collides a little with the arcade nature of the game, which has almost always deviated from any simulation element in favor of immediate gameplay but which here, instead, slightly changes the cards on the table. without feeling the need.
The longest-running and most agitated pursuits, obviously, will result in an ever-increasing level of alert which will increase in parallel the number of patrols to our ribs, their aggressiveness and the Reputation points obtained in case of escape. It should be noted, however, that the police will tend to be predominantly present and pressing at night, or when it is more likely to spot illegal races.
Lions in the evening, in the morning ... good-natured.
The biggest news of Need for Speed Heat, in fact, it lies in the differentiation of races and rewards based on the time of day in which we will play the races. During the day, the events we will take part in will be authorized and will take place in well-defined paths, focusing only on earning money; at night, however, all the spirit that has always distinguished the saga comes out, with competitions under the banner of illegality in which we will have to take into account any "courtesy visits". In this case, we will earn Reputation points, useful for leveling up to unlock new cars, parts and activities.
It goes without saying the importance of the circadian cycle, which can only be instantly alternated from day to night, while the opposite is not possible as to maintain the reputation gained you have to end the night by returning to one of the shelters.
La variety of races is good thanks to a medium-sized map that not only hosts a city setting but also countryside areas with different setting curves. There are basically three types of events, road, off-road and drift, from which also the statistics of the vehicles derive based on the mechanical elaborations that we will do, making them more or less suitable for their final purpose.
Unlike the other chapters, this time the driving model did not fully convince us. We undoubtedly perceived a good sensation of speed, but the feedback relating to the behavior of the cars seemed to us at times aseptic, and the evident arcade mold has nothing to do with it. It will be the choice that to turn at its best touches almost drift by pressing the accelerator button twice, it will be the sense of heaviness of the car alternating with that of too lightness when cornering, but the fact is that it has managed to transmit that "charge of adrenaline ”typical of a Need for Speed. This does not mean that it is still enjoyable and sufficiently satisfying.
Our opponents, unfortunately, are not particularly smart and difficult to beat, proposing themselves with a 'Fair AI suffering from a "reverse elastic effect". This means that, between them, they will not compete continuously queued without detaching for several seconds, but the story changes with us: gaining the first position, in fact, very rarely our rivals will give their best to snatch it from us; conversely, if we fail to get to the top of the line quickly enough, the lead driver will tend to flee Usain Bolt style, only to drastically reduce his driving skills during the last few hundred meters before the finish to give us a small chance to win. . By increasing the difficulty it is possible to have a greater degree of challenge, but nothing that really requires commitment except in the drift events, in which the maximum score to be reached will increase. By playing online, however, we can make it more challenging by participating in races alongside other human players or challenging them in timed races.
To carry out everything offered by Need for Speed Heat are 15 to 20 hours of gameplay required, to which we must add a few more to obtain all collectable: among these we find (fake) flamingos and billboards to be destroyed and speed cameras in which to earn up to three stars a little like Forza Horizon. All of this will not be an end in itself, but will allow us to unlock unique rewards. Finally, let's also spend a few words on the crew system, through which we can create our team from scratch to invite friends and other players or join an existing one. The sharing of experience by all members will allow you to progress in the level, also here by unlocking exclusive bonuses and rewards.
Brilliant but not flawless.
Technically, the PC version of Need for Speed Heat it behaves very well, with a detailed graphic rendering especially in the car models and an interface that recalls that of the historical chapters. To make the whole thing lose a bit of panache, however, there is a system of representation of the damage at a shallow aesthetic level: the cars will not deform in a realistic way, but the conditions of the body will follow predefined screens that have nothing to do with it. what to do with the point of impact and its strength. From an optimization point of view, however, we didn't struggle to keep up the game at maximum graphics settings with our configuration:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.0 GHz
- GPU: Gigabyte NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 @ 3200MHz
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Monitor: Acer Predator 144 Hz with G-Sync technology
The interlude scenes are of excellent workmanship and with a successful cinematic aspect. The dubbing in Spanish also manages to keep up quite well in terms of quality and the same goes for the sound effects, in particular those related to the roar of the engines and their differentiation.
What we did not like very much is instead the playlist chosen for this new chapter, which ranges between different genres, from electronic music to hip hop / Latin, without ever giving truly memorable songs. Sure, there are pretty famous artists like Inna, Post Malone, Steve Aoki and bands like Muse and Slipknot, but Need for Speed has always been the cradle of tamarre / pushed tracks and here we haven't found any thick pieces that we would unequivocally associate with series. An example? The unforgettable "Get Low" by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys of the first Underground.
A little like we feared, Need for Speed Heat stay in the comfort zone set up by Ghost Games in recent years without going further. The result is an undoubtedly enjoyable chapter from the point of view of gameplay but not excellent, which can count on a rich car processing system that will appeal to tuning lovers and long-time fans. On balance, the series has reached a point where we perceive the need to dare, to "take risks" to rejuvenate the formula a little and it does not necessarily have to be a radical renewal. You can bring back the hallmarks of the most successful chapters, combine them with new ones and return to something simpler but markedly tamarro, where clandestine races in their purest essence are the fulcrum of the entire adventure. If you are looking for an arcade title that stimulates your desire to compete without rules, give life to adrenaline chases and give vent to your imagination, however, Heat will surely know how to satisfy you.
- - Aesthetic and mechanical elaboration of cars rich and satisfying
- - Very good graphic sector
- - Lots of races, collectibles and adrenaline-pumping chases
- - Immediate and arcade driving model ...
- - ... but not fully refined and satisfactory
- - Little standout music playlist for a Need for Speed
- - Fluctuating and unresponsive AI