Need for Speed Heat Review

"Heated Escape"


November 11, 2019 at 3:09am
By Jason Stettner

This is really my first time with the Need for Speed franchise, I’ve tried some past games but have never really gotten into them like I have with Heat. This entry is more of a return to form as you’re hitting the streets, escaping from the cops and aiming to gain reputation. It’s an open world racing title, and it presents this in a very unique way.

It’s a distinct split between night, and day. During the day you’ll be aiming to bring in more cash, whereas at night you’re battling to gain more rep. While it’s the same city you’re revving the engine across, the atmosphere they provide is entirely different. At night you also need to be cautious about returning home, the cops may take what you’ve earned if you’re busted.
Need for Speed Heat Night
Heat shines during the night, literally. The use of lighting, the reflections and everything else is incredible at night. To focus on the narrative aspect, there’s a story here. You’re the new kid on the block, taking on the role of one of the avatar options that are provided. There’s full dialogue, cutscenes and you’ll meet a group that you can work on becoming a crew with. It’s an interesting setup, but one that’s somewhat sparse in terms of content.

The missions are all locked behind hitting certain goals, so you’ll have to do side races in order to get there. This makes elements somewhat repetitive, as there just aren’t enough missions to keep you focused. I quite liked what they were going for in terms of the story, but they didn’t focus on it to the extent to truly make it something special. Instead, it’s there and an alright addition to your ventures. I do really like how this element ties into your cars though. You gain rep and cash in a way that makes you feel like you’re getting a good sense of progression.

The ride gets better, there are tons of aesthetic elements and each vehicle feels like it’s completely unique. I loved changing the smoke color, the under glow or even tuning that car just a tad more. While the city is filled with some activities, and collectibles I felt they could have taken side ventures further. There’s a good amount, but it could have been more expansive. During the day is almost feels empty in comparison to the thrills of the night life.


Your ride will likely start out with poor handling, but as mentioned with the progression it’ll begin to improve. It still does require quite a bit of e-braking while racing, and that feels a tad over the top at times. It really does feature a sort of arcade style of action racing wise, and you’ll get used to this distinct style after a number of races. It’s really cool to customize the vehicles, and then to get them out on the road. The world is full of destructible elements and I really appreciated that touch.

You could smash through barricades, knock over trees and you largely weren’t halted by anything. That being said, at night the cops can get in the way. It’s somewhat annoying as these patrolling cars make it somewhat difficult to get into races, or even to enjoy races. I was trying to get into a race and was being chased by five different vehicles. I kept escaping, and getting caught in a loop which was annoying. The cops also jump into races, and it can get annoying as they favor you over the AI opponents.

It’s not terribly difficult, and they do offer three levels of difficulty which is nice. I do find it unacceptable that the game doesn’t have a rewind feature, something I consider a standard in modern racing titles. They do have an interesting sort of online integration in this, but it’s not something a lot of players take advantage of. It would have been nice to have something that was more dedicated multiplayer wise, still a rather neat setup as you see others being somewhat integrated into your world.

This looked great visually being Xbox One X enhanced with a native 4k resolution that featured a dynamic resolution feature. This was presented at 30fps, which makes sense considering the open world scope. It would have been nice to have a lower resolution with a higher fps option, but this was fine. There’s also HDR support and it largely looked great. An excellent sense of density within the world as well, a very detailed sort of environment to drive within on your journey.
Need for Speed Heat Review Xbox Wallpaper Screenshot

The Conclusion

Need for Speed Heat is definitely a lot of fun, the night life is incredible and I certainly enjoy the sense of progression in regards to the vehicles. That being said, there are some issues and some elements of play that could be expanded upon. They provide a very interesting open world experience, and I liked the ideas around having the cops involved.

Some elements could be tweaked, and a rewind feature would be appreciated. I also would have like the narrative to have less rep walls around it, they were telling a neat story and just spread it too thin. It would have been better to have the story be done quickly to provide extra freedom, or to have the pacing handled better story wise. It can be very slow to get into, and they could have provided some extra fun type events to build more hype.

They have a decent selection of extra events you can take part in, but they could have also taken that a bit further as well. I certainly had a good time with this entry, I’d like to see this concept taken a step forward in the next entry. Some really neat ideas, that just some more polish to excel. I felt the need, the need for speed in this and at times it was really awesome. Other times, parts of it felt repetitive and a bit tiring.

Read our Forza Horizon 4 Review
View our Need for Speed Hub

Need for Speed Heat Review on Xbox One X
Review Code Provided by 47

Rating Overall: 7.6

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner