NEED FOR SPEED: PAYBACK
GETTING A LITTLE TYRED. $68 | PC, PX4, XO | www.ea.com
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.