TechLife Australia - - DISCOVER - [ FRASER GIL­BERT ]


The lat­est it­er­a­tion in EA’s Need For Speed se­ries em­bod­ies some­thing of a back-to-ba­sics ap­proach. Gone are the 2015 re­boot’s on­li­neonly cam­paign and live-ac­tion cutscenes, and the re­sult is a smarter and more var­ied ar­cade racer that finds inspiration in ev­ery­thing from

Forza Hori­zon to Grand Theft Auto. Even so, NFS Pay­back of­ten feels like wasted po­ten­tial. The game places you in the shoes of three main char­ac­ters, all seek­ing re­venge against no­to­ri­ous lo­cal car­tel ‘The House’. How­ever, the story suf­fers from an overly abrupt in­tro­duc­tion and dull cast, and it’s hard to get emo­tion­ally in­vested. In the main sto­ry­line, you’ll find your­self tak­ing part in one of five en­ter­tain­ing race types: race, off-road, drag, drift or run­ner. The va­ri­ety is com­ple­mented by a set of re­fined driv­ing me­chan­ics that im­prove on 2015’s game, par­tic­u­larly in terms of han­dling, drift­ing and the greater feel­ing of in­di­vid­u­al­ity to each ve­hi­cle. AI im­prove­ments are no­tice­able, too. Each car you se­lect can be cus­tomised to your de­sire, and the range of op­tions is broad. A ma­jor new in­tro­duc­tion is Speed Cards — col­lectible per­for­mance mods that are drawn at ran­dom fol­low­ing a race vic­tory or made pur­chasable from a tune-up shop. Many races (in­clud­ing on­line en­coun­ters) re­quire highly-up­graded cars to achieve suc­cess, and given the cost and va­ri­ety of Speed Cards on of­fer, it can take some la­bo­ri­ous grind­ing to achieve the type of boosts that’ll see you com­pete at the high­est level.

The beau­ti­ful world of­fers de­tail and diver­sity in abun­dance, though. The bustling city, dusty desert and hilly moun­tains all look strik­ing, if rather de­serted. It all adds up to a game that re­mains a fun ar­cade racer at heart, but be­gins to chug when sur­round­ing el­e­ments come into play. It was al­ways go­ing to take a mam­moth ef­fort to re­turn NFS to the peak of its for­mer glory, and in this case, it suf­fers from too many dents in the body­work.

The take­downs that oc­cur dur­ing po­lice chases make for some of the game’s best moments.

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