Jan. 20, 2018, 4:41 a.m.
Ahh, Payback. The latest entry in the Need for Speed franchise. Got some solid hours on it and here's my opinions:
Story: Some plotholes here and there, but it's not THAT bad. My only gripe is how at one point they seemed to be exiled from the city but you could still enter it without any issues with cops (because none of them are in freeroam, more on that later). Navarro is not really a well established villain and we never really get any definitive explanations on the background of the characters besides a few lines during missions or, in some cases, freeroam.
Progression: I definitely agree with the newer update hampering progression. Heck, the abandoned cars make it worse: you could obtain a car going to level 399 from the start of the game (be it the RX-7, Skyline 2000GT-R, 242 DL, Amazon P130, or M3 Evolution II), and it's for free - the only thing you have to do is grind for performance parts.
Replay Value: The game will make me come back for one reason: customization (more on that later). There are a lot of activities as well, but they're mostly filler. I enjoy replaying the "Skyhammer" mission though.
Cops: I love their aggressiveness - it gives some sort of challenge. But yeah, I agree on the fact that they aren't available in freeroam (makes the vibe of racing cars too legal, a-la ProStreet) and that there are only a few levels of cop cars (Crown Victorias in cars from level 100-199, Chargers - sometimes with Killswitches - in cars from level 200-299, and Corvettes - accompanied by Chargers - in cars from level 300-399). It's also kind of disappointing where all cop chases are scripted events and are just basically "drive from point A to point B, you'll get away from them if you're 500 meters from your destination."
Cars: I like the variety of cars. From compacts and tuners all the way to exotics and hypercars - there are still some cars I haven't tried. The inclusion of off-road cars is also nice, but it isn't fitting for a Need for Speed game.
Multiplayer: I haven't personally tried multiplayer (as I lack an Xbox Live Gold subscription), but from videos, the lack of online freeroam is really disappointing, but I'm glad it's coming later this year. They have added in Drift Speedlists on the Speedcross update, though.
Physics: I haven't played NFS 2015, but from the looks of it, it's decent for this game. The cars grip on the road as they should, and the "tap-brake-to-drift" mechanic isn't entirely bothersome, given that you can actually entirely disable it on Race and Runner cars. Off-road cars don't really have a place in an NFS game (as I've said), and their handling is just terrible - you constantly fight to get your car in a straight line, making races with League 73, The Free Ember Militia, and Hazard Company really gruesome and controller-tossingly frustrating.
Customization: The amount of combinations you can have - oh, all the options you can. A full Rocket Bunny kit with some Voltex side skirts on a 350Z. BN Sports bumpers, Origin lab fenders and skirts, and a Seibon hood on a 180SX. Nismo rims for Nissans. Wide bodykits on hypercars. It's almost endless, besides the restrictions on parts not fitting each other. The only issue is how some cars which are known to be very customizable have very limited options, such as the S2000, and Civic Type-R (1999).
Microtrasactions: Well implemented and not much of a cashgrab as the uproar on Star Wars: Battlefront II. Well, sort of. Purchasing shipments rewards cash and part tokens, which, in turn, can nab you better cars and better parts sooner. It doesn't really impact much, though - we're only racing cars, there aren't powerups or abilities than can take you one notch over an opponent online.
Misc: Resetting after crashes can finally be disabled, thank heavens. Some bugs here and there (i.e. can't lower BMW cars with the new M Performance parts), but isn't really game breaking. They sadly disabled the remove parts trick, though. I was gonna build a roofless Miata.
Overall: Not bad for a Need for Speed game. Could be done better, but hey, it could be worse.