EA tries to tell a tale of heist and men, as its racer takes in­spi­ra­tion from GTA

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Dave Meik­le­ham

Pub­lisher Elec­tronic Arts De­vel­oper Ghost Games For­mat xbox One ETA 10 Novem­ber 2017

Brace your­self for a state­ment we never ex­pected to write: EA’s lat­est, brazenly dan­ger­ous racer is kinda like

GTA V. No, re­ally. Al­right, so you won’t be curb­stomp­ing bik­ers, hunt­ing down UFO parts, or tak­ing a poop ma­chine Rot­tweiler out for walkies around the Sin City-in­spired streets of For­tune Val­ley. But you will be tak­ing part in open-world heists as you switch be­tween three crim­i­nal leads.

With its cin­e­matic cutscene tran­si­tions and mul­ti­lay­ered, sto­rycen­tric Block­buster Ac­tion mis­sions,

Need For Speed: Pay­back may be the clos­est the se­ries ever gets to mim­ick­ing Trevor, Franklin and Michael’s crooked car­jack­ing ex­ploits. Thanks to Rock­star’s movie-ob­sessed Houser broth­ers, GTA has al­ways leaned heav­ily on movies for its vis­ual in­spi­ra­tion, and that looks to be the case with Ghost Games’ sand­box speed­ster, too.

“We’re try­ing to learn from that vis­ual lan­guage of cin­ema,” game di­rec­tor Wil­liam Ho tells us. “Some things are time­less and en­dur­ing… car movies are more pop­u­lar than ever. It made sense to move Need For Speed in that di­rec­tion, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing its core of rac­ing and driv­ing.” As long as said vis­ual lan­guage isn’t tak­ing cues from Fate Of The Fu­ri­ous and its ‘cars out­rac­ing nu­clear subs’ non­sense, we ap­prove of the cin­e­matic in­flu­ence.

The se­ries may not have en­joyed much luck with plot-driven ( sorry) adventures in the past – we’re look­ing at you, Need For Speed: The Run – but at least Pay­back has solid sand­box foun­da­tions to fall back upon should the heist-fo­cused story mis­sions fall flat. There are three dis­tinct driv­ing dis­ci­plines to par­take in out­side of the story threads (Mac’s drift­ing events, street races with Tyler, and Jess’ get­away mis­sions), not to men­tion a huge chunk of sun-baked, Las Ve­gas­ap­ing desert to bomb around.

Wisely, Pay­back also seems to be tak­ing cues from a le­git­i­mate Xbox rac­ing leg­end. Keep your eyes peeled as you roam around For­tune Val­ley’s vast vir­tual real es­tate, and you may stum­ble upon derelict cars you can re­pair and spruce up, a cute fea­ture that owes more than a lit­tle to Forza

Hori­zon 3 and its can­nily hid­den Car Barns, which all stored run­down dream ma­chines nes­tled away in those acres of glo­ri­ous Aussie Out­back.

Tune with a view

Ghost Games is keen to stress

Pay­back isn’t merely a glossy, movieap­ing thrill­ride, ei­ther. Ho as­sures us there’s real depth un­der this racer’s hood. En­ter Live Tuning: a set of slid­ers that let you tweak your car’s han­dling on-the-fly with the hit of a but­ton as you roam the open-world. “Once you start play­ing with them and driv­ing the car, you im­me­di­ately see and feel the dif­fer­ence,” says Ho. “There’s quite a bit to our physics sys­tem that isn’t ex­posed right away, but once you dive into it, there’s tons of op­tions for per­son­al­is­ing your ride.”

Fid­dling around with stream­lined set­tings is great and all, but you’re here for thrilling ac­tion movie spec­ta­cle, right? In that re­gard, a re­cent trailer sets a stylish tone for the car-man­gling main event to come, as Mac’s BMW M5 out­runs the fuzz cour­tesy of a se­ries of ridicu­lous rev­ers­ing ma­noeu­vres. Mr Diesel and pals would be proud.

Can Pay­back de­liver a more sat­is­fy­ing story than NFS: The Run? It looks promis­ing. Still, we need to see more of its crim­i­nal sand­box be­fore we let this racer pass its test.

“EA’s lat­est, brazenly dan­ger­ous racer is kinda like GTA V. No, re­ally”

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