[Review] Need For Speed Payback is the Fast and Furious of Gaming

Reader Rating0 Votes
Open world driving
Good graphics
Entertaining story
Upgrade system too random
Too much a grind
Cars need to be purchased separately for each race type

As a long time fan of the Need For Speed franchise, I’ve always felt that the games were the basis for the Fast and Furious movies. Need For Speed Payback though, feels like it’s a Fast and Furious movie. Now that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Set in the fictional city of Silver Rock and Fortune Valley, you play a trio of characters – chief protagonist Tyler Morgan (the Racer), Sean “Mac” McAlister (the Showman) and Jessica Miller (the Runner). Each of whom specialize in a different race type – Tyler: Race and Drag, Mac: Drift and Offroad, and Jess: Runner – she’s the ‘wheelman’ that specializes in running down the cops.

In a city that’s run by ‘The House’, Payback is a tale of fast cars, corruption, deception, high-flying cars and family that’s been a staple of the Fast and the Furious movies. Race your way to earn your rep and screw with the House and its grip on Fortune Valley. It won’t be long until you’ll be driving along winding paths and tunnels, involved in high-speed chases and bursting through billboards with a very distinct Hollywood flavour… and that’s where it kinda stops… with a flat tire.

Making good use of the Frostbite engine, Fortune Valley looks good and, true to form, the cars look real good as well with minimal loading times. Silver Rock and Fortune Valley look like an extension of GTA V’s Los Santos. However, as Gran Turismo is a driving simulator, Need For Speed is the arcade racer.

However, you can’t quite use the same car for different races. Even if it’s the same car. What do I mean? From the 5 different race types – Race, Drift, Drag, Offroad and Runner, you must buy a separate car from it’s respective dealership (there are 5) before you can compete. So you might end up with 3 MX-5s that can only compete within their own category and you can’t tune just the one to compete as you need to.

The grind is real in Payback. Cars are then upgraded by collecting, and crafting, random speed cards by winning races and through loot boxes. However, there isn’t any real progression strategy as card levels are left mostly to chance – which is made even more evident when you try to craft a speed card through the ‘jackpot’ system.

Now you’re stuck in a bit of a dilemma. There’s no way you can compete effectively as each race has a recommended level your car needs to be. So you either end up grinding out wins to keep collecting cards from the easier races or you get some real cash out to purchase loot boxes.

I definitely preferred the tiered upgrade system from the previous versions compared the RNG nature of the current iteration.

Another step back from the previous editions is the fact that you can’t get into a cop car chase unless it’s part of the story-line or a specific race. It totally takes away the thrill of racing the streets. It’s generally miles and miles of road looking for bill boards to crash through and collect casino chips (the token of choice).

One thing I did like though was looking for derelicts (trashed cars) and building them up to be the most pimped out rides in the game.

While I do enjoy the story mode, the plot is not one you have to overthink… it’s Need for Speed, the Fast and Furious of the game world, not Inception, but it takes too much repetitive work to just get it moving along sometimes.

Just like the Fast and Furious franchise where somewhere along the line it stopped being about cars and racing (the 4th sequel), you can’t help but feel that Ghost have taken their foot off the pedal with Need for Speed Payback.