Monday, November 25, 2019

"Need for Speed: Heat" Review

"Need for Speed" is at its best when it lets you roll with abandon through wild city streets, trading paint with opponents and cops alike. "Need for Speed: Heat" is a welcome return to the origins of a series that, as a whole, may have lost its fresh-on-the-lot luster but still has plenty of gas -- and nox -- left in the tank.

There's little doubt that "Need for Speed" would be served by scaling back from its near-annual release schedule. There's only so much you can say and do artistically with the series year after year, and since it rarely goes away, gamers don't get the chance to miss it. But "Heat" seems like something more than a perfunctory fulfillment of a corporate mandate. With a new set of tires, a fresh coat of paint, a thorough detailing and a new car smell air freshener, this is a ride you can cruise the hood with in style.

Developer Ghost Games does the "Need for Speed" name proud by blending arcade-friendly race mechanics with subtle sim elements, including customization, car builds and damage.

The seamless integration with online play catches the series up with the likes of "Forza Motorsport," and the gritty, exuberant street racing can match anything you'll find in, say, "Grand Theft Auto Online."

"Heat" is just as much fun under the hood, with loads of options that let you tinker with your ride by adding enhancements and tweaking with its tuning. Just about all the mayhem you cause on the streets results in reputation and financial buffs that arm you with more options to tweak your car in the garage.

The story may still have shades of a half-baked "Fast & Furious" ripoff, but the unabashed dorkiness of the characters and dialogue takes away nothing from the gameplay.

"Need for Speed: Heat" gets your adrenaline pumping with the intensity of singed rubber. To play is to visit a fantasyland free of traffic jams, consequences or mandatory sentences. This is just the sort of game that reminds you why the "Need for Speed" engine first started humming.

Publisher provided review code.

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