It is day, the sun is shining. We drive past a police car in Need for Speed Heat with our supercar – the cops leave us alone. The same night scene: sirens immediately sound and Palm City law enforcement officers open a merciless chase. Either we escape or we get arrested and lose all our money.
The distinction between day and night is the most obvious idea of Heat. In the racing game developed by Ghost Games we can (almost) always switch between the two modes. During the day, we participate in legal road races, where we primarily earn the money for tuning and new cars. Although basically the same competitions take place at night – it is primarily about honor and thus about level ascents.
However, all of a sudden, cops take part in the race from the roadside. The police usually act without much consideration: we are simply blocked and pushed aside until we can not get any further. On the simplest of the three difficulty levels, the escape is not a big problem, but in the hardest we have to concentrate and gain experience.
In Heat, we are a young professional driver who has just come to Palm City – a fictional counterpart to Miami. The roughly 20-hour long campaign tells a simple story with short cutscenes, in which we also deal with minor characters such as the carmaker Lucas and his sister. The hero is chosen at the beginning of the plot from twelve predefined characters. By the way, we could exchange our alter ego later for one of the other characters – that shows quite well, how no matter the story is.
If we do not repaint our cars in workshops or equip them with better engines, brakes or tires, we can drive around freely in Palm City. On the map we choose the next race, then the navigation system shows us the way. The whole thing vaguely reminds of games like GTA 5, but is much simpler. Computer-driven vehicles also drive on the streets of Palm City, but they look quite artificial – there are no passers-by. In the beginning we are mainly in downtown between skyscrapers, later also between meadows and hills of the hinterland on the way.
Heat always offers very nice weather effects. (Picture: EA / Screenshot: Golem.de)
The race is about landing as high as possible on the podium. We usually compete with sports cars against six to seven computer-controlled pilots. Important: We have to pay attention to a skill value that we already get displayed on the overview map. If the value is a bit too high for us, it will be extremely difficult for us to keep up. If the value is actually too low, we almost always take the first place without any major problems.