Tuesday, November 07, 2017

"Need for Speed: Payback" Review

Just about every year, "Need for Speed" re-emerges in a new form. Whether it be the nuts-and-bolts drag circuitry of "Grid," the madcap cross-country racing of "The Run" or the cops vs. robbers motif of "Most Wanted," the one constant is always sexy cars romping at high speeds.

"Payback" is a return to the series' go-to setup of "Fast and Furious"-style fantasy fulfillment. Set in a world in which gearhead buddies vie for control of the streets by collecting pink slips, upgrading their rides and teaming up for improbable heists, the mission-based, open-world romp set you free to explore its twist-filled circuits of lost highways, off-road pathways and hidden nooks.

This has been a particularly impressive year for racers, with the likes of "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe," "Gran Turismo Sport" and "Forza Motorsport 7" all tearing up the track in impressive manner. That leaves little room for the likes of "Need for Speed Payback," which pales in comparison when compared in graphical horsepower and racing bona fides.

Where "Payback" manages to carve out its niche are the realms of story and high-octane set pieces. It's also the only game in the bunch that allows you to mash on the nitro button to pull into the lead down the stretch. Arcade-style thrills help separate "Payback" from the pack, with the cheesy-yet-satisfying writing taking the wheel, for both better and worse. At least it's never a dull ride.
Publisher provided review copy.

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