Developed by:Ghost Games Published by:EA Genre(s):
  • Racing
  • Arcade
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1 (2-16 Online) Release date:November 8, 2019 Reviewed on:XBox One

    Need for Speed Heat

    I remember playing the original “The Need for Speed”, 25 years ago, on a 3DO in the local Sears electronics department. I was blown away. This was absolutely the future of racing games; after playing the Windows 95 version, there was no looking back.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for this series (and arcade racers in general). There is nothing wrong with racing simulators. I play those as well. But when I just want to sit on my couch and have a good time grinding for better swag, I tend to always return to Need for Speed. 24 games later, Need for Speed Heat is released to relative minimal fanfare…

    This isn’t shocking news. If we consider how Forza has become the preeminent series for racing fans, arcade or otherwise – and the fact that EA had its sights set on Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order – it makes sense. That said, Need for Speed Heat offers something different.

    Set in the Palm City, Florida, Heat’s world revolves around a strange pairing of activities. Where bank (money) can be won via legal competitions held during the day, while street cred is gained via illegal, underground events after dark. This set up makes way for the game’s campaign – players will need to gain the trust of their fellow racers before eventually trading paint with rouge police officers. Again, it’s strange.

    This isn’t a bad thing. The plot provides a nice change of pace from the usual Fast & Furious storylines that have plagued the genre over the years. It also allows for two similar, yet different experiences; normal street races and the Hot Pursuit mechanics seen in past games. The cops will leave you alone during the day, being that street races are legal, but when that sun goes down. Well, let’s just say they are out in abundance and will stop at NOTHING to bust you.

    Interesting enough, Heat doesn’t naturally cycle from day to night. Instead, the player determines the time of day/races they’ll get into based on what they’re after. That being bank and their rep (or street cred). Bank is earned during the day by completing the day races scattered through the map. With it, players can buy new cars, upgrades, and cosmetic enhancements. Some items are behind a rep paywall, given players a reason to race after dark.

    Heat shines at night. The constant evading of police provides the important elements of an arcade racer: speed and danger. The sense of speed is palpable as you drift around corners attempting to best rivals while avoiding the cops. Speed traps, destructible bonuses, and stunt jumps that send you flying through the air ramps things up from there; there’s more to the races than just crossing the finish line.

    While the night racing provides most of the entertainment and much needed rep, the day racing is fun/just as important. Not only does it allow for a breather from the police chases, they’re also needed to purchase better cars. Essentially, you need the day driving to conquer the night driving and vice versa. It’s a nice mix of the two.

    Heat’s visuals and sound effects are great. When you hit your NOS, you can feel the heaviness as you turn your car and hear the changes to the engine. The cars look real enough; in some instances, a parked car could fool someone into thinking it was pulled from a photograph. Same thing goes when it comes to the roads and such. The music is also top notch. Obviously, no expense was spared when it came to licensing.

    There’s more to Need for Speed Heat. Crews (clubs housing up to 32 players), customizable cars and characters, and new activities like multiplayer-based time trials help to spice things up. That said, Heat won’t remove Forza Horizon 4 from the top spot of open world racing. And that’s ok. I firmly believe that with constant updates, it can become a sleeper hit in kind – I’ve had nothing but a good time behind the wheel. Night racing has regularly kept me on the edge of my seat with adrenaline fueled hijinks while the day races offered a chill experience. Heat won’t pull anyone away from Star Wars (or any of the recently released AAA titles) but if you’re looking for an entertaining racer, you could certainly do worse.



    An interesting night and day mechanic makes Heat feel fresh, despite featuring old gameplay elements.



    Beautiful scenery with gorgeous car models can never go wrong.



    Everything from the revving engines to the braking/screeching tires sound legit.

    Replay Value:


    Find a group of friends to drive around with and you'll unlock Heat's seemingly endless potential for fun.

    Final Score:


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