Game Review | Need for Speed Heat brings back the racing thrill Underground 2 once had

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Need for Speed Heat on Xbox Series S
Need for Speed Heat on Xbox Series S
Electronic Arts

Need for Speed Heat was released on 8 November 2019.

The game involves deep car customisation and racing in an open world setting.

This version of the game was played on an Xbox Series S console.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.

As a petrolhead, it's common practice to own at least one or a series of racing games. The likes of Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo continue to be the titles of choice, widely praised for their graphics and closeness to professional racing.

Though it might not be as popular as it once was in the 2000s, the Need for Speed franchise has come a long way since the very first game was launched in 1994, spanning a total of 24 games across Playstation, Nintendo, Windows, Mobile, and Xbox systems.

Street racing and high-speed police pursuits are something on which the Electronic Arts racing platform has been built. The latest game - Heat - allows the player to roam a vast open-world based on Miami and delve into the world of vehicle customisation. The open-world concept was first birthed with the release of Underground 2 in 2004.

Need for Speed Heat Gameplay
Need for Speed Heat Gameplay

A 'less serious' game

As is the case with other titles in the franchise, the player can choose from a limited selection of past and present performance vehicles, aided with cool customisation options like fitting air ride suspension, swapping engines, and even setting the exhaust sound. Dressing your character in the game is also a newly-introduced feature.

Overall gameplay requires the player to participate in day or night events and earn reputation points to unlock the next chapter in the story. Though racing at night is the riskier of the two because of the police presence, the rewards are more significant. Concerning the graphics, it is some way behind the likes of Forza or GT, but the more you play, the more you get used to it.

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The game is 'less serious' in the sense that factors like time-focused driving lines or clean driving doesn't matter. Driving through objects like trees, poles, and walls slow down the car instead of bringing it to a complete stop, and drifting forms a core part of the game, which can be done by releasing the throttle button and getting onto it again when entering into a corner. While the drifting sequences are fantastic on the eye, some turns don't require the 'extravagance'.

Need for Speed Heat Police Pursuit
Need for Speed Heat Police Pursuit

Besides following the story, the player can also keep busy by finding hidden paint spots, destroying billboards, and clocking specified speeds to earn extra cash. Before or after each race, the player or other random crowd characters will take pictures of your ride - something a lot of people do these days - which is somehow relatable to real life.

Upon scrolling through the car list, the absence of one manufacturer, in particular, is apparent. There are no Toyota models in the game, and that is because the Japanese automaker said in a tweet in 2019 that it does not want to promote illegal street racing. According to Car and Driver, Toyota has an exclusive deal with Sony's Gran Turismo Sport.


The plot remains relatively the same as other games in the series like Underground 2, Most Wanted, and Carbon. Additionally, it is a fun racer for those that want to break away from the 'seriousness' of other titles like the aforementioned Forza and GT. For those completely new to the series, Heat is straightforward with simple controls - though almost all games have button tutorials at the beginning.

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