Need for Speed: Paybackby Mikhail Nov 14, 2020 | 1 Votes | 79 Played | 0 Reviews
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Released last 2017, Need for Speed: Payback is one of PlayStation Plus’ free games for October 2020. As someone who barely had any experience with racing games whose last major racing game was Midnight Club 2 on the PlayStation 2, it managed to exceed expectations, but only on the racing and controls aspects.
Despite being one of the best racing games visually, Need for Speed: Payback is undone by its rather shallow gameplay, particularly the overhyped police chases. Moreover, terrible customization mechanics that are straight out of a free-to-play mobile game (FIFA Ultimate Team) that absolutely has no place in a big-budget triple-A game. Thing is, its presence isn’t surprising here because, after all, this game was made by an EA studio.
With all things considered though, it’s still worth a playthrough. This is thanks to its presentation elements and the racing experience it manages to provide. Before you decide it put it on your PSN library though, here’s a more in-depth look at what it brings:
It feels as if Need for Speed: Payback’s story was written by out-of-touch D-list Hollywood writers who have no idea how to make a coherent plot that perfectly fits a street racing game. Like, why can’t you just create a tale where a young up-and-comer tries to make his mark in a world full of racing veterans?
Without diving deep into spoiler territory, you’re instead treated to a game where you play as a variety of characters aimed to take down a corrupt gambling organization known as The House. Apparently, these criminals are running this alternate version of Las Vegas’ casinos and hotels. And yes, the story is filled to the brim with cliches and rather comedic, cliche, and badly-written dialogue that just doesn’t hold up. For example, characters talk about themselves like hip millennials in a badly-written, rejected movie script. It’s simply something you just can’t appreciate.
Far from being a casual racing experience, Need for Speed: Payback’s controls and the way the cars feel manage to impress. There are five different car classes (race, offroad, drag, drift, and runner) that are actually DIFFERENT from each other in how they’re controlled and their purpose. Plus, you can’t use them for kinds of races except for the ones they’re specifically made for. For example, runner cars are mainly used for cop car chases, while drag cars are made for, well, drag races. Unfortunately, there are more than a few instances where you’re suddenly placed in positions where you have to improvise, like when you’re participating in a drag race and a cop chase ensues. These situations may come without warning and if you’re driving the wrong type of car, you’ll need to be a master of the steering wheel to overcome them.
Need for Speed: Payback manages to provide a variety of racing modes and experiences. These include offroad races and street sprints in both urban and desert locales. The one that stands out the most is, of course, the cop car chases, which is, unfortunately, one of the worst modes. It’s funny how instead of using a line-of-sight mechanic, the developers opted for checkpoints you’ll need to go through in order to shake off the cruisers.
Progression in Need for Speed: Payback takes the form of speed cards you’ll assign to your vehicle to raise its stats. This is, without a doubt, one of the worst progression systems in a racing game. Instead of installing an individual part like how all other racing games do and how players want it to be, you’ll instead get to play a menial trading card game. I mean, come on, just let us buy parts with the currency we earn after each race. Add the fact that the ones you’ll earn and buy in the in-game shops are completely random, we feel driving our rides off of a bridge. Plus, you can’t go without upgrading your cars as well, considering the AI is fairly challenging. In addition, cosmetics are locked behind performing a variety of tasks in the game’s overworld which forces you to go through these if you want a new paint job or decal.
Overall, it’s just puzzling why EA implemented this upgrade system. It is undoubtedly one of the worst ideas in this gaming generation and as a player, it’s just not fun. This felt more like an executive boardroom decision than a developer-made one.
The upgrade system also translates to a terrible online experience. To fully even-out the playing field, you’ll indeed to empty your wallet to buy loot boxes. LOOT BOXES. Thankfully, the game’s addition to the PlayStation Plus’ lineup infused new players into the mix, so you’ll be able to enjoy competitive races for now.
In terms of presentation, Need for Speed: Payback is fairly decent. The cars look authentic and though the locales feel rather empty, everything checks out and looks fantastic. It’s not as immersive as other racing games, but it does its job right. The audio design excels even if the dialogue just doesn’t hold up well.
Overall, Need for Speed: Payback’s races hold up fairly well, but once you’re watching the cutscenes and the upgrade menus, everything crashes and burns. Nevertheless, it’s free if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber and worth a playthrough if you love racing games and movies.