REVIEW – Another Electronic Arts game, another lootbox-misery. To be honest, I didn’t like Need For Speed: Payback already when it was announced because it didn’t feel a lot different from the 2012 reboot of Most Wanted. However, under the hood, there are several changes, with – unfortunately – disappointing results altogether.
I know, I should be talking about the game, but dear readers who plan to buy the game – don’t. All publishers who offer loot boxes for money that provide more than just cosmetic upgrades in single player should not get money. Buy this game used, as it will not make more money for Electronic Arts. What EA did with the new Need For Speed is just way too much (and they are now defending HARD because of Battlefront II… too late, though).
This year’s Need For Speed title is an arcade racing game, which seems to have taken several cues from the Forza Horizon series – just think about the off-road racing, or maybe the hidden vehicles that you can find. You can effectively use any car in any category (drag, runner, race, drift, off-road) if you have the required pack for it. In-game money? Nah, instead, you’ll get these dumb, yes, I’ll repeat it, silly Speed Cards, which you can’t even move around from car to car, because why should we? All vehicles have six blocks (block, ECU, head, turbo, exhaust, gearbox), mostly covering the actual parts of the vehicle. After each race, you’ll get one card that will slightly increase your car’s rating (which is usually between 100 and 300 in stock, but there are some at around 400), which is a little something… like Destiny… or The Crew. Those games are MMOs, though. Need For Speed: Payback isn’t.
Tuning your cars is extremely slow unless you pull out your wallet. Oh, of course… if you don’t feel like repeating some of your older races over and over, even if you enjoy the game, the experience will be incredibly dull, unless you pay! Allow me to describe it in more detail. You can buy cards from the Tune-Up Shop with your credits, which should be a better idea to be spent on cars, or you can swap your old cars to tokens, and you can then use a virtual slot machine to pray that you get a good card. Oh, so we have gambling ON TOP of gambling. Nice. “But you can get two boxes in an hour!” Yeah, and then the races’ recommended level (your car’s level, that is) starts to rise at an incredible rate, and you’ll not be able to follow this number, and if your car is about twenty points about that level, you’re going to enjoy the last place. Then, you might say that you should buy a new car. Go ahead, be my guest: you’ll have to start grinding for cards from scratch.
Now that I described why the game got a pathetically low rating, I do feel the need to point out that the racing itself isn’t terrible, but it’s still far from the level that the 2003-2006 era had with the two Underground, the original Most Wanted, and Carbon games from the series. The AI is still noticeably rubber bands, there’s still no cockpit view (despite the fact that the first NFS game had that already over two decades ago…), and the different vehicles offer different driving styles and visuals.
Mostly, but not entirely, Need For Speed: Payback kept the thing which won a lot of people’s hearts – I mean, the plot is ridiculously cliché to the point that it’s mostly a Fast And Furious clone (and Project Car dev Slightly Mad’s CEO said that they’re going to do something similar). It’s laughable, but you can enjoy it. Unfortunately, the devs take the controller out of your hands at the most exciting points in the plot. Audiovisually, the game is excellent.
3DJuegos cleverly pointed out that Need For Speed: Payback is just a few points ahead of the 2015 NFS title on a 1-100 scale, and its average rating is 67 on Metacritic at the moment. No, I’m not going to be that kind with Payback – the only reason why I give it a 5 out of 10 is that if I gave it a lower number, I’d be sh_t upon. The era, where you just plonked in your disc into your PC or consoles is now far, far away. There was no bullshit where you were asked to pay money to get a better car or just get it upgraded. I miss those times. Even the 2008 Need For Speed game, Undercover, I even find THAT game better than Payback, which could have received a 7/10 if it didn’t have such a predatory monetization scheme.
Don’t buy this game new. Watch it on YouTube, then play Carbon or either of Most Wanted versions. Don’t play this game – or maybe buy it used from someone, as Electronic Arts will not see that as an extra sale, and the more sale Payback gets, they will focus more monetization than ever.
+ You can have some fun with Payback
– Dumb, cliché story, which is enjoyable for some reason
– Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R V-Spec
– Incredibly bull monetization…
– …which makes gameplay extraordinarily dull and repetitive…
– …and I wouldn’t buy this game even used because of these reasons
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Ghost Games
Genre: Arcade, Driving/Racing
Release date: November 10, 2017