This will be just a shortie about the two latest NFS games. Need for Speed: Payback and Need for Speed: Heat. As they are basically the same game, only the narrative is changed.
I had hoped that these games would be somewhat enjoyable to a car/driving enthusiast, as NFS: The Run also created by Ghost Games was on the brink of being good, it only missed the mark slightly.
Unfortunately that is not the case here. Even to get started with these games you have to completely forget everything you know about cars and their handling.
The weirdest part is that there are things that Payback gets right and Heat turns around and completely ruins them. Namely cop chases. It was great in Payback, they still weren't realistic and overly aggressive, but you could drive them into obstacles or pit them, which felt great. In heat however they are almost invincible freight trains that you can't even budge and their only goal is to ram you and destroy your car. And you can't escape them as there is so ridiculous catch up that they'll just fly past you at thirty trillion miles an hour. I'm not exaggerating there is literally no way to outrun the cops in NFS: Heat, the only way to get rid of them is to go through pre defined jumps which they can't go over by design. It's atrocious.
If Heat had the Cops of Payback it would be a fairly OK game, but this makes it an utterly frustrating and/or boring experience. It gets things right like the customization, although the upgrades are not very realistic, and the level based XP system is also stupid and fucking redundant. You race, you earn money, you upgrade your car, that's all there should be to it. But they had to add a reputation system, which is basically just XP with a different name, and lock upgrades behind that. I was two inches from actually liking Heat, despite the terrible controls and driving mechanics, but they just managed to ruin it enough for me to quit after about 2 hours. Why can't a car game just be about driving for a change FFS? The recipe is there why the hell nobody uses it on PC? At least they are learning because they took the hint of TDU to add character customization that helps with immersion, unfortunately even that can't offset the horrific cops.
As for payback. What they did to switch things up is what ultimately made me quit playing. Namely that the game switches between multiple characters, at the worst moments, yanking you right out of immersion, again when I almost started to enjoy the game and become invesested in the narrative, CUT, and you are given a brand new character to play as, who I don't care about, or want to play as. At least not this abruptly switching from another.
And finally the handling of the cars is exactly the same in both games: They all drive like a shopping carts filled with a ton of bricks or a tanker ship, whichever you prefer. Every input you make gets a delayed response, so you have to turn into corners two hours before actually getting there, and the hard part is not missing the turn, it's not hitting the inside barrier, because every car turns like on a swivel. Even the slightest tap of breaks and you go off on the inside. Basically exactly the opposite of what you expect. It's not hard to master, just as mentioned you have to forget everything you know about cars and handling and then you'll be successful. Not great credentials for a driving game.
Graphics wise Payback is OK, nothing special. Heat looks much better, if only it played nice too it would be a great racing game. Unfortunately it doesn't.
And I can't ignore the political activism they put in the game, I only saw it in Payback, but I'm pretty sure it's there in Heat as well, only further back in the news feed which I didn't see. If you want to be a fucking political activist go to twitter, it has no place in a videogame. Which is meant as escapism. Do I need to spell it?
Which I was doing when I saw the political shit, escaping the hell out of the game.
Here are some not so usual scores for the games.
Wokeness: 10/10 (obviously lower is better)