The Need for Speed series of games has been kinda caught in a bind. Grand Theft Auto and other sandbox games does what it does, and with the added benefit of weapons. Racing games like Gran Turismo does it too, but in a straight race sort of way. Need for Speed is in the middle – it wants to be an exciting race, but can't go too too much to either side. It's stuck much how the first few Fast and the Furious movies were before the characters discovered things like weapons and plot.
Need for Speed: Payback is the latest installment, and at EA's E3 event, it was showcasing it. I played a demo and, well, despite excellent graphics, so much more was missing.
It really was fun gunning it down roads and seeing cars crash spectacularly, but I noticed my car had literally no damage despite hitting numerous telephone poles, joshua trees (It takes place in a fictional Las Vegas and the surrounding area – you'll see them) and various cars. There were some excellent challenging moments, but when it came to really test your mettle, like keeping steady with a truck in oncoming traffic, it went to a cinematic. It really was style over substance. It felt more like playing a movie than an actual game.
The driving is fun (How can you say no a car they introduce that goes from 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds?), and again, visually it's impressive. I'll even say it was thrilling and music added a lot to the chase and driving. But it's still stuck without much else to do but drive almost consequence free.
If you like simple driving, chasing and going really, really fast, it's the game for you. It's really, really good at it. But I wanted to do more or at least have a challenge besides 'Go really fast.' I know it's in the name, but it's also limiting it more and more with each iteration. Does it keep the invisible walled roads, or does it build from there? Will it add more crime elements, or will it figure out more ways to keep them driving and only driving? For right now it's still doing it good, but it felt like something was missing.
Coming out on PS4 and Xbox One, Need for Speed: Payback will be a game to watch as it's release date nears.