Need for Speed: Payback Review

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Need for Speed: Payback Review

The streets are calling your name. You’re the best racer that Fortune Valley has produced. But what do you do when an operation that you and your crew have been planning goes awry, as a result of betrayal? Whatever comes naturally…

Need for Speed: Payback is the latest racing video game installment to the Need for Speed Series, being the twenty-third game that has been published in the franchise. This installment has been developed by Ghost Games, using the Frostbite 3 Engine, and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as of 10 November 2017. Development began in 2016, with numerous teasers being released leading up to the game’s reveal in June 2017, such as a gameplay trailer of a mission, wherein the main characters steal a Koenigsegg Regera “Hypercar” from the back of a speeding semi trailer. A reasonably good hype was being built up until this point, so now the question is whether or not the game meets up to the hype that EA and Ghost Games were creating, especially with the return of a Single Player campaign which many players enjoyed and requested.

A Dessert Called Revenge

Just a bunch of rebels!

The streets are filled with all sorts of racers. You play as Tyler Morgan, one of the best racers in the city of Fortune Valley. Alongside your crew, Sean “Mac” McAlister, Jessica Miller, and Ravindra Chaudhry, you take part in many races and operations in the city. After a quick introduction and tutorial Prologue, you meet back at the Warehouse to meet up with Lina Navarro, the game’s antagonist. Tyler recruited her as a means to help out their odds in their plans for the latest operation; to steal Marcus “The Gambler” Weir’s Koenigsegg Regera from him during a race. What they don’t know is that Lina Navarro plans to double-cross them. Lina deceives them in favour of a behind-the-scenes cartel called “The House”, who has made their presence known across the city’s casinos, criminals, and even the police department. Tyler finds a knocked out Ravi at their meeting spot, where Navarro hijacks the car and drives off. After the double-cross, Tyler gets away from the police by making a deal with Marcus Weir. He is to work for Marcus until he figures out a plan to get back his Regera, but is not allowed to race anymore. The gang breaks up abruptly and need to make ends meet after the blow they were dealt. Six months later, working as Marcus’s valet, Tyler gets impatient and takes to the streets one more time to strike back against Navarro and The House.

After a successful race that deals a blow to The House’s rigged races, The House puts Tyler in his sights. Marcus, being annoyed at first at Tyler’s impulsive decision, allows Tyler to take the win, but only because Tyler’s action gave him an idea that will not only allow Tyler to get his revenge, but will also take down The House once and for all. Tyler, only focused on revenge, puts off on giving Marcus an answer to the offer, until Tyler returns home and nearly being blown up by a bomb that was planted inside by Navarro. Tyler, out of options, agrees to Marcus’s plan, and gets the Crew back together. From here on out you race against multiple racing leagues, all who have ties with The House, all unwilling victims of their system and plans. A lot happens during the races against these leagues, which I won’t spoil for you if you decide to get the game. The story started out fun, until it was clear that there was actually nothing special to the story at all. Basically, the team of great racers fail an operation because of a teammate betraying them. Leader of the said great racing team wants revenge, and happens to have a financial backer, who also ends up being the person you tried to steal from at first. What a weird turn of events. The only reason he allowed that, was because he recognised your skill as a racer, otherwise the game probably would have taken a different turn with you breaking out of prison somehow. It all feels very “convenient”, and sloppy, which leads me to think that this was the reason single player campaigns were done away with until now.

Drifting Up A Storm

The new parts system…

With the long awaited return of a single-player campaign, we have been given a game that functions really well, but that doesn’t keep my interest for long. Many important facets and features that were staples of the games have been changed, specifically relating to the upgrading of your car’s performance. Instead of merely buying an upgraded part for the multiple performance-related tech, we have to hope and pray for a the parts that we are in need of when we have enough currency. I feel the need to mention this first, because it was my first disappointment in the game. Speed Cards are now used as methods for replacing or “upgrading” your car’s performance. After winning an event, you get presented with three Speed Cards with a big question mark over each. You need to choose one, and hope for dear life that you get the part you need to upgrade your car’s performance enough for the next event. Your eligibility is measured by a “Level” value now. The value goes higher with every higher value Speed Card you get. If that doesn’t get confusing enough, there are multiple brands and perks that you can get with each type of part. All of these values are randomised, no matter where you go, and the chances of you getting what you want every time is pretty low actually. There are Tune-Up Shops where you can purchase performance Speed Cards, but even here, the stock is limited to only a set few usable Cards. The stock refreshes every 30 minutes now, when it used to be 15 minutes. Are the developers trying to make the game worse by adding these terrible wait times? All that aside, if you get a Speed Card that you don’t want, you can choose to either sell it or trade it in for a part card that you can use in the Trade-In section of the Tune-Up shop. If you like gambling, this game as a whole is for you. The Trade-In mechanic requires you to “lock in” three part cards, where squares will spin and decide the brand and perk for you. If you are looking for a specific brand or perk, you are able to select only one of the squares, where the other two squares will roll about and give you what you might or might not want.

You also get different Build-Types for your car, because of the multiple Event types that you get. When selecing or buying cars, you will have to settle for not being able to use that car in any other type of event. Maybe this is to divide the roles evenly, seeing as you play as all three characters during the game. Tyler is responsible for Drag and Race Events. Mac takes on the Offroad and Drifting events, while Jessica takes on the Runner events. All the other events are pretty straight-forward to understand, aside from Runner. It’s in the name, seeing as Jessica is basically a wheelman for hire, usually as a getaway vehicle. Runner cars are built for stealth, dodging cops, and maneuvering through traffic. They’re also pretty durable to take down police vehicles during Pursuits, and Jess is quite the skilled aggressive driver. I enjoyed the Offroad races more than I expected, though my favourite would have to be Drag race events. I was a little surprised when one of the Drag race events required me to do a Sprint. Drag builds are meant for straight lines, so when this event came along, the explanation I was given by my opponent was that Drag isn’t only about straight lines. Yeah, okay, sure, not all roads are straight during Drag races, but never has a Sprint race been grouped together with Drag racing (not that I am aware of, I should say). My Mustang managed the event really well anyway, even when I accepted the Side-bet. Side-bets are optional wagers that you can make before a race, giving you an additional challenge that you need to complete whilst winning the event for additional cash. Some Side-bets really are not worth the extra frustration, believe me. If you want extra cash, just complete the same Drag race event 10 times for 70k. The first Drag race event is quick, so don’t bother trying to do the 2 second wheelie side-bet challenge. It is a guaranteed headache that will get accompanied by a wide assortment of frustration-inspired swear words.

Burnt Rubber

Suddenly… Aliens!

The event rewards span Speed Cards, Cash, and Reputation Points. I still don’t understand the whole purpose of Reputation Points. It feels like a total waste of space in the HUD, and is so easy to gain, even outside of events, when messing around in the Open Hub World, driving around, drifting and jumping and destroying property, etc. If it helps to unlock Visual Customisation options for your vehicles in the Garage, then it’s one of the easiest milestones to meet in order to unlock that. You can only choose Visual customisations for your vehicles once you reach certain milestone, though fortunately this will unlock the visual customisation type for all vehicles you currently own and are yet to own.

Visual Customization Spans:

  • Paint and Decals
  • Brake Discs
  • Exhaust
  • Fenders
  • Front Bumper
  • Front Canards
  • Headlights
  • Hood
  • Licence Plates
  • Neons
  • Nitrous Colour
  • Rear Bumper
  • Rear Canards
  • Rims
  • Rim Colours
  • Rim Size
  • Roof
  • Side Skirts
  • Splitter
  • Spoiler
  • Tail Lights
  • Trunk Lid
  • Tyres
  • Tyre Smoke Colour
  • Wheelie Bar
  • Window Tint
  • Wing Mirrors, etc.

Once you have successfully beaten a Racing League, they will give you Map hints to derelict cars. Once you find the body, you need to find the other four parts connected to this derelict in order to fully unlock the ability to restore them. These cars can be restored to Stock form, and then improved upon through customisation, and used in Events. Later on, when you unlock the ability, you can upgrade your car to the “Super” Build, which turns these cars into some really amazing looking and great performing vehicles! This is pretty fun, but you first need to suffer through all the other race events. Of all the Events, Drifting was probably my least favourite. Outside of events you are also able to customise the Tuning of your vehicle on the fly, allowing you to tune the vehicles to your style of racing. Each selection of tuning options will differ for every car class, offering very specific tuning sliders. Driving around in free roam can be a lot of fun, though what I missed was the ability to get into cop car chases whenever you felt like it. Although I will admit, finding a crash-landed UFO in the middle of nowhere was amazing, and gave me quite a chuckle. I was unfortunately not able to do anything Online, because EA’s servers seemed to have some permanent problem while I was reviewing. Everytime I would register my very valid E-mail Address, I would get an “Invalid Request” error whenever I verify my e-mail. Though not many players have been seeking the Online experience anyway, from what I can gather.

There are unfortunately inconsistencies in the game. Later on, you and your Crew basically gets chased out of the city by cops, which means you are now wanted. The characters say it’s impossible for you to go back. I figured I would test this theory. I fast-travelled to the Garage I purchased in Fortune Valley and decided to wreak havoc. I broke speed limits, destroyed public property, caused cars to discover they had the ability to fly by crashing into them, and there wasn’t even radio chatter by police about this madman in the city. I could quite comfortably sit at a cafe and shout my name if I wanted to, and the police would be nowhere. Lastly, I’ll mention the Shipments that you get in the game. These are merely containers in the game that award you with performance parts or vanity items. You get these containers through completing challenges around the Open World, such as Speed Traps, Speed Runs, Jumps, etc. and apparently with reputation level. You could even purchase it with premium currency called Speed Points. In case you were wondering, here are the in-game purchases, everyone!

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Conclusion

This game has been an interesting experience. The story in Need for Speed: Payback is explained in the title. Nothing much beyond getting revenge through racing, and by limiting the types of races you car can take part in. I’m not sure if this makes it more realistic, but it definitely makes it slightly frustrating. I really enjoyed some of the races, especially Offroad, oddly enough, and Drag, but Drifting is my least favourite event. The graphics were quite enjoyable. I found no graphical issues and enjoyed the sceneries we get to explore. The music felt different to the normal Need for Speed “feel”. I hated many of the track selections, thinking I must have joined a gang of sorts. I hope to never hear “Buy and Sell” ever again. The game is sturdy, and functions fine, meaning there are no bugs. Unfortunately the mechanics and gameplay took a bit of a nose-dive. I don’t think any Need for Speed game will ever be as good as 2005’s Most Wanted. Avid NFS fans, if you want to give this game a go, at the time of this review, the game is being sold by BTGames for R735.00 for PC, and R915.00 for PlayStation 4 and XBox One. I’d recommend waiting until you can get the game from the Pre-played section though.

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