A day after Heat launched worldwide(9th of November), I immediately bought a hard-copy of Heat after skipping GRID (2019) because the more I looked into the Codemasters reboot of a title from a decade ago, I knew the game is barebones as it is from the gameplay that content creators put on YouTube. So the whole month of October was spent racing on GT Sport doing the Nations Cup Online Championship, here's my review.
When the official trailer dropped, people were a bit concerned about the return of "brake to drift", well in here it's rewowked. For once, this is in my opinion the best handling by Ghost Games. Grip gameplay is improved, you will not lose way too much speed when cornering with a grip setup and it's responsive that you'll be swerving traffic swiftly in Night Races, although try to throttle control like playing Gran Turismo is a bit of a work to get around, because double-tapping the accelerator will perform a clutch-kick and accidently your car into drift. As for Drifting, it doesn't translate as well as grip unfortunately. In Payback and 2015 there's this thing called "driftboost", basically if you finished your drift through a corner, you'll boosted out of a corner with such speed like a MarioKart, it's a sin against nature from the people who played the previous Ghost developed titles. In short, you can't chain long drifts anymore and it feels; sluggish and awkward when you drift, my way of doing this is by snaking if you want to get points. Although, people managed to find it easy by using different parts but still. For Off-road, it feels easier to control the car rather than fishtailing everywhere on Payback with a lot of the cars. But the problem is there's lack of events for off-road cars to race.
How you progress the game is through the Day and Night system, there'll be no 24-hour day cycle in here. It's been brought up again after two generations of consoles ago, Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift; where you earn instant cash through day events, in the night beat rivals and defeat bosses in areas around the mountain roads of Japan in order to progress to the next area with better cars and parts. In Heat, it's the same with day events; win Cash in a closed course with the SpeedHunters Showdown events, where there will be no traffic or anything, it's just you with opponents and barriers that slow you down. The day events consist of mostly Circuit races, with handful of Sprint, Drift, and Off-road events. In Night it's a different story than in Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift, in this time you'll be earning Rep through illicit street races or activities and collectibles if you want to (seriously you can earn Rep through that), in the night time you'll be driving on the open road and traffic at the same time so be sure to have reflexes to dodge and weave traffic. With events mostly Sprint, handful of Circuit, and Drift surrounding the mountain roads of Palm City. This unlocks parts, cars, events, and advanced through the story campaign, however, you will not level up until you end your night if you decided to go into safehouses when you think you have enough, because the more Rep you earn the more attention from un-kind visitors.
Cops now patrol during day and night unlike in Payback where is limited to escape events and bait crates, the difference between day and night cops are: the color of the cars, the unit that they're chasing, and how the officers act (I love details like that). But the major difference here in day the heat level reset once you have escaped from cops and stay out of their sights (in short, you're in cooldown phase), in night however it stays there for the rest of the night until you end it, because the heat level doubles as your Rep multiplier. With Chargers and Corvettes chasing you with the addition of killswitches, helis, spike strips, and seppuku-rhinos to slow you down, just to bust you. If you managed to progress into the game, you'll unlock High Heat Races. These events will only available with minimum requirement of heat level 3; in these you'll get huge Rep, Cash, and Volatile Parts (They are free parts, if you're a low-level you can unlock parts that are required to be higher Rep level early, and it's the only way to get ultimate grade parts)
Fortunately, if you got busted they only take your percentage of your money and resets your Rep multiplier that the Rep you could've gained will be divided by the heat level you accumulated from that night, but unfortunately the volatile parts you accrue from high heat races will be gone if you didn't make it into a garage or safehouse, unlike Most wanted '05, Carbon, or Undercover where if you decide to pay the fine by cash instead of impound or "get out of jail free" markers, your car will be granted a cross-mark to your bottom left or left of your screen that will be forever your anxiety to a racing game ever. I got busted once due to inconsistent respawn from jumping the fountain in Downtown Palm City in the middle of the race, when how many times I nearly got busted that was because of unseen spike strips that I drove into, failed to swerve either oncoming cops or a game of chicken with rhinos. But, there's two criticism that have been a bit turnoff from Heat cops, one is bad first impressions, basically there's no heat level limit at low-level players unlike in the previous game where there's a limit cap until you progress the career, because of that you will learn the limitation of level 130 starter cars real fast. Also the game has damage limit like Rockstar's Midnight Club, and in day you have unlimited repairs while you have only 3 repairs through the gas station scattered across the map so that you can't loophole repairs every time your car is in critical damage. Two is that when you fully upgraded your car to lvl 400, the cops is a cakewalk now. If you're not being searched, you can basically evade them without triggering a chase in the first place (rhyme not intended) because they'll be cruising in Ford Crown Vic's.
If you managed to get into the garage or safehouse safely, you can gain so much Rep in one night that you forgotten time past by.
Customization is pretty much same from the pervious titles, but with couple of bells and whistles to keep it worth the time and effort you putted into the game.
For starters, the "Pay to Upgrade Speedcards" are ditched to a "conventional buy parts with in-game money". You upgrade cars with the cash you won through day events and unlocking parts by Rep through night events. With the addition of the inventory you can stock up or sell unnecessary spare parts that you want to save up or gain some spare cash, also you can change parts in free-roam through the 'Garage' tab in the pause menu then to performance menu with the spare parts you have in the inventory, it's great when you're testing builds or having one car with a versatile use. The upgrades are split into four categories; such as engine, chassis, drivetrain, and auxiliary. Although I will divide it by three categories; such as power, handling, and extras to be calculated by the Performance Level.
The power category is consisted only to engine parts; from internals, forced induction, and nitrous. Nitrous being changed on how you use them, now it's a one-shot nitrous system, just press the button until it ran out. There two options for nitrous types, either more versatile use but lacks the power multi-tank 3 pounder (1.3 kg), or the powerful but it lasts until the tank is empty with the benefit is on a long straight big single tank. Also, the second time ever in NFS (that I know of) is engine swaps, There are atleast minimum of 9 options to choose from, with the addition of the inventory you can stock up engines if that one or two cars can have the same options, although that's my criticism about engine swaps is not able to see engines that you have in your inventory because either that engine is only compatible with many specific cars or having the same displacement and configuration turns out to be a different engine altogether (for example there's a car that can fit the McLaren 570S (562 hp 3.8L V8), when you try to fit that same engine, turns out it's from the 600LT (596 hp 3.8L V8). Also there's the forged edition of the few stock engines that you can push it into 4 digits of horsepower.
One in the left is the engine swapped by a one of the Mercedes 4.0L V8, while on the right is the stock 2.3L EcoBoost with both having ultimate parts
And remember some of the cars with stock engines won't reach the 400+ Performance level, with being a video game you don't have to worry about realism, so stop being so insecure about it. With the addition of High Heat Races, it's the only way to unlock Ultimate grade parts; you required to be level 50 on Rep (the level cap).
Done in MS Paint, eks dee.
There are minor and major upgrades to change the handling style. Minors are that doesn't change a lot but the difference is there such as brakes and that's it, the clutch and gearbox are in the power category, major upgrades is the one you want to look out for handling changes. The Picture above is the handling map, there are four types of handling like Race, Road, Drift, and Off-road and each parts has a purpose for altering the handling style you done to the car. The parts consist of Tires, Suspension, and Differential. There are parts that are focused types but also having parts that combined with two types, such as :
- Race + Road = Track
- Drift + Road = Showcase
- Race + Off-road = Rally
- Drift + Off-road = Speedcross
You can also have mismatch parts because having a car with mostly single type parts isn't going to go so well, and without the class restriction from Payback you can basically build any car you want from an exotic rallycar, SUV racecar, drift truck, and so on.
By now you're wondering where's auxiliary? Well, these parts are essentials to your car, so that's why I have put it in the extras. There are two types of auxiliary, there's active and passive. Active ones can be used during free-roam/races and activate it by using circle on PS4 or B on Xbox, they can be unlimited like the killswitch or limited for single or double use such as nitrous refill and repair kits, and by this point people will tell you to get the repair kits because it repairs 1/3 amount of damage but not fully repair your car entirely. I never used the jammer or nitrous refill frequently, because my experience of it when unlocking the repair kits, I basically abandoned those two without a second glance. And then there's passive items, there are permanent items in effect already when you installed these; such as radar disruptor, various nitrous modifier, reinflatable tires, and armor upgrades. It's the same story here, get either damage increase or reduction.
Body customization now has no requirement, which you don't have to progress your Rep level or meeting certain objectives to unlock customization parts like in previous installment. Also, vanity items can be purchased by in-game Cash without getting behind a paywall. What I don't like about the vanity items is most of them behind collectibles, it's a bit turnoff for me first but it's worth the effort unlocking more vanity items when considering you'll unlock special edition cars, and wrap editor decals. Paint & decal editor has some tweaks for the better or worse, the good thing is there are more materials you can work with such as metalflakes, brushed steel, selection of carbon, and etc. with the addition of different types including iridescent, opposite, gradient, in short you can make your car like those car pics you'll find in Social Media. The bad thing is, the smoothness slider in the advance paint tab is replaced by the finish option which means you can't tweak the middle ground of between; gloss and satin, and satin and matte. But the worse offender is the decal editor, why? Because it's flooded with too many influencer decals from YouTubers, Car Culture sites, and the lack of brand decals from rims, bodykits, tuning, and so on. For the body parts, it's pretty much the same unfortunately but keep in mind the kitbashing from Payback have returned, you can mix and match parts and into consideration how much parts in Heat, Basically the amount of detail is skyrocketing to the roof. Something new from this is the exhaust sound tuning, you can alter the engine sound to your liking but even with that some of the engine sound has some weird mixing bugs. if you want wheels they are pretty much the same with couple additions of new Rotiform ones, BBS, and two Turbofan Discs. Because of no class restriction from Payback, now tire designs are no longer locked to build only tires (i.e race, drag, off-road, vintage, regular, streched, and rally tires).
For the first time ever, you can choose from 12 characters (6 male & female respectively) to change the looks of your chosen character to cater to your style. The clothing suite includes various lifestyle brands such as Adidas, MKI MIYUKI ZOKU, Life's a Beach, Mastermind, Givenchy, Marcelo Burlon, Neil Barrett, Reedles, Stan Ray, and many more. And you can wear any clothing for both genders, although it's weird having male characters can wear feminine clothing. Luckily for who might have turnoff from that stuff I mentioned, there's a nice selection of acceptable clothing. But the whole wardrobe ended up being a hypebeast closet, although there's no catalog of Yeezy's, Gucci, Supreme, and so on...
That is going to be the conclusion of Part one. To summarize, physics are improvement for the better or worse, I liked the progression, the cops are a bit hit or miss, now there's more customization options to express yourself and some quite literally. The next part will be touching upon Palm City, narrative, and online aspect of Heat.