After a year’s absence Need For Speed Payback is finally here. The game we got is not worth the time we had to wait for it. Need For Speed’s
midlife identity crisis continues in this instalment.
At its core Need For Speed Payback has the potential to be a great arcade racer. It is however set back by a lacklustre story that feels like it was written by a child. Not to mention, the voice acting is extremely poor.
The Story and Characters
Need For Speed Payback’s single-player has us playing with three characters, namely Tyler, Jess and Mac. Each character has their own abilities. We go up against “The House” who controls fortune valley. Seriously, how dumb does that sound? It’s a b-grade story that is trying it’s absolute hardest to be a Fast and the Furious ripoff. The main character, Tyler, is a very annoying character. Perhaps almost as annoying as Spike in Need For Speed 2015.
That’s not the worst either. The story dialogue is extremely poor in quality. The story is a compilation of cheesy lines, bad pronunciation and poor execution. That is a shame considering the budget of Need For Speed titles.
The vehicles selection isn’t bad. There is a good balance between street cars and exotic rides. The only drawback when purchasing a vehicle is that you need to select a spec for it. If you want to use the same vehicle for another spec, you have to purchase it again and upgrade it from scratch. This goes against what Need For Speed has always been.
The cosmetic vehicle customization is great in Need For Speed Payback. It’s expanded from 2015’s Need For Speed with a throwback to the Need For Speed Underground 2 days, and that’s great! While the visual customization is not as in-depth as in Need For Speed Underground 2, it’s better than it has been since.
We can customize the rear bumper, front bumper, side skirts, fenders, diffuser, exhaust, canards, spoiler, hood, headlights, tail lights, trunk lid, sound, side mirrors, license plat, roof scoop and wheels. All customization options are not available on every single vehicle though.
There are also vanity items that we can customize such as the nitrous color, tire smoke, neon underglow, air suspension and horn. You can obtain vanity items through free shipments or through micro-transactions.
The performance customization is the worst system we have ever seen in a Need For Speed game and goes against the true nature of the series. You can upgrade vehicle performance by obtaining speed cards after a race, or by purchasing them in the tuning shop. Speed cards are available in 6 categories, which are head, block, ECU, turbo, exhaust and gearbox. There are 5 different speed card brands, each with their own perks and boosts.
Unless you want to grind for hours on end to try and get the speed cards you want there is another option. You can spend part tokens by selecting a category, brand and perk combination and roll for a speed card. It’s a system cleverly designed to get impatient players to buy premium shipments with real money. This is rubbish that does not belong in a racing game.
We want a simple upgrade system where we can buy parts in a shop, just like in Most Wanted 2005. The part is there. It has a set price. We get exactly what we see. We buy it strictly with in-game currency, with no other means to buy it, and with no means to buy in-game currency with real money. That’s what we want and that’s how it should be. EA has gone to extraordinary measures to nickel and dime the Need For Speed franchise with Payback.
This is where Need For Speed Payback shines. Vehicle handling has been greatly improved compared to the last Need For Speed. Driving feels very responsive and sliding around corners is fun. The offload racing is also superb.
Payback has a decent amount of races and challenges. The world is filled with fun challenges and the world is a decent size. The game also features most of the race types we want in an arcade racer. Race types are divided into sprint, circuit, drift, drag and time trials with cops in tow.
The police chases are not nearly as fun as they were in Need For Speed Most Wanted 2005 though. The game also does not have freeroam police chases. Here’s to hoping they will start listening to their fans and include them with future updates or the next entry in the franchise.
The Bottom Line
Payback continues Need For Speed’s identity crisis. After years of lacklustre entries to the franchise Payback just couldn’t shake the trend despite its outstanding gameplay. The franchise just can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. Does it want to be an illegal street racer, a blockbuster action film turned video game or a track racing game?
The fans know what they want, but EA doesn’t seem to care about that one bit. We can only wonder how many bad to average reviews it will take for EA to finally wake up. One thing’s for sure, and that is that change is necessary. Need For Speed is still playing catch up, all the while falling behind a quarter mile at a time.
The Bottom Line
NEED FOR SPEED'S IDENTITY CRISIS CONTINUES
Payback continues Need For Speed's identity crisis. After years of lacklustre entries to the franchise Payback just couldn't shake the trend despite its outstanding gameplay. The franchise just can't seem to decide what it wants to be. Does it want to be an illegal street racer, a blockbuster action film turned video game or a track racing game?
- Driving feels great
- Sweet cosmetic upgrades
- Performance upgrade system is extremely poor
- Poorly acted, b-grade story