Review: Need for Speed Payback

Need for Speed is really starting to feel like it’s doing what it’s designed to do: give some thrilling, egde-of-the-seat racing action against other racers, police and anyone else who reckons they can outrun you. Payback has received some pretty bad press so far, but the biggest issue – that of the loot crates and slow progression – seem to have been tweaked by a recent update, so does it make it a more viable option for people looking for some excitement?

Yes, frankly. Payback does an excellent job of being that cheesy, over the top racer with the big engines, dodgy acting and questionable storyline. Basically if you’ve seen a Fast and Furious film you’ll know what to expect. Handling is good if not spectacular, and has the familiar powerslide-happy feel that we’ve come to expect from Need for Speed games, it’s looks very decent and more importantly it’s fun to play, to the point where you can easily get lost in the game for a couple of hours and not even make any significant progress in the story. One challenge leads into another, and with the usual selection of speed and skill challenges dotted around there’s loads to be getting on with; you’ll be surprised at how quickly time goes by while you’re trying to nail that speed challenge and beat your friends.

There are the award crates to think about though, but I’m not sure I agree with all of the fuss that’s been caused by these. Progress is slow, I understand that, and some will get frustrated that the currencies used in the game to purchase upgrades and new vehicles don’t rack up quick enough to keep the game feeling fresh, but this idea of working up to something isn’t a concept that should be shrugged off quite so easily. Plenty of games are based around grinding, it’s not a brand new concept that EA have come up with just to piss off those who expect everything to be hand delivered within 5 minutes of starting the game, and while it does feel a little out of place in a racing game it’s not a million miles away from how The Crew handled its progression, and not many people were complaining quite so strongly about that. Maybe there’s some luck with the rewards you get, and maybe it’s not idea that you can speed things up with real money, but if you’re so inclined to get everything immediately that you’d part with real life money then maybe slow progress games aren’t really for you.

The other thing to consider is the value you’ll get from this – the price has started to drop and for the amount of game you’re getting this could prove to be a huge bargain if you grab it for a good price and are willing to stay away from the in-game purchases to speed things up. Maybe you’ll end up getting frustrated by the way you progress through the game and earn new cards, maybe you’ll find the acting a bit wooden and some of the dialog a bit cringe-inducing, and I understand all that. Need for Speed Payback isn’t a perfect game, nor does it blow any other racing games out of the water on any specific feature, but it does one thing well and that’s give you a fun experience that you can quite easily get lost in.

Reviewed on PS4

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