Need For Speed Payback is really very terrible indeed

Welcome to Need For Speed Payback. I would like to introduce you to the worst people in the world.

Worst of all, worstest person you could never hope to meet, is Tyler. Tyler is, well, he’s a Tyler. He’s the fastest racer there is! We know this because Tyler describes himself as the fastest racer there is, almost every time he opens his mouth. His personality is that he’s the fastest racer there is, and if his friends know anything about him it’s that he’s the fastest person there is. Tyler is the human equivalent of a Post-it Note.

Tyler’s always there with a witty comeback. You can trust him to retort on the spot. Like,

“The House always wins.”
“Well not tonight it didn’t!”

Tyler is, I guess, what EA imagines the entire audience for NFS to be like. An insipidly bland little boy who whoops at E3 press conferences. The sort of person who studiously observes the buzzwords his cooler friends are using and meticulously employs them as frequently as he can, in the belief that this will make him One Of Them. But most of the time he emits the personality of a cardboard cutout of a person.

“I’m not going to go easy on you.”
“Good. I don’t do easy.”

Next is Mac. Mac is the one who drives offroad and does skids! That’s his personality there. Mac, in a better universe than ours, would be here to offer a satirical representation of the most banal of over-confident stupid people – the sorts who speak exclusively in hackneyed aphorisms and think it’s making them sound novel and interesting. But here in this universe, hideously it appears to be the game’s writers who believe this. Mac says “Mac attack” a lot. Mac delivers all his lines in the sort of disappointing British accent that makes you want to change phone shop.

Mac says things like, every single time the game’s clock ticks past noon,

“The day’s half over, or as I like to think of it, half full!”

Which makes me want to be dead.

Another thing Mac says, in response to a baddy man at the beginning of a race no matter how many times you have to restart it after failing,

“No more playing nice. Let’s bury this loser in the dirt.”
“Yap yap yap, you keep talking, but I keep winning!”

Mac is really, really dreadful. Mac, when someone says, “Stay quiet, and don’t do anything reckless,” is someone who replies, “Reckless?! Who, ME?!?!”

Then there’s Jessica. Jessica is the girl one. She’s not interested in all this silliness the boys are into! She’s sensible, and a girl. She drives getaway cars and complains about driving getaway cars, in between saying how much she likes driving getaway cars. Jessica, the girl, says sensible things like,

“I’m not here for the thrills, Mac. I’m here for the job.”

Tsk, those boys!

There are some people out there who want Need For Speed: Payback to begin with a seemingly interminable number of tightly scripted missions in which control is incessantly wrested away from the player at all the most interesting moments, with cutscene after cutscene of the most unlikeable humans on Earth intoning cliches at one another (“Do I have a choice?!” “There’s always a choice.”). I think it might be the Tylers of the Earth. I still struggle to believe that they are numerous enough to warrant targeting a game toward. Because surely – surely – what most people want is to drive around having races, car fights, time trials and jumps to their heart’s content, in a free and open racing world?

Here’s the plot, as it unfolds at the start:

Tyler and his crew are about to pull of the job of the century, to steal a $2m car for its tech, and be set for life. But one of the crew betrays them, and Tyler has the choice of going to prison, or working for the guy from whom he stole the car. Because, um, that’s how the police works? Who knows, certainly not the developers. Six months later, he’s still working for the mean man, on the promise that one day he’ll get revenge – nay, Payback – on the crewmate who let him down so. But the betrayer is talking to the mean man! And so he’s sad. And on his way home, someone offers Tyler the opportunity to take part in some races. But he says no, because if he races he’ll have to go to prison. (You know, that legal system.) So the next morning you begin doing some practice races to be allowed to do the big race.

Good grief, it’s like it was written by a six year old. “And then the dog said to the man that the dog didn’t want to be a dog any more so he was a cat and then it was Christmas and everyone saw Santa and Santa had a nice owl called Owly…”

The result is you excruciatingly inevitably pull your crew back together, along with the lack of a person, Rav, your engineer, and start taking on races against various race gangs, in order to secure a place in the Big Race, where you can win and ruin the bet-fixing EVIL of your betraying former chum. Which is to say, you do a series of races in various car types, miserably strung together by the genital itch of a storyline. Each gang has a leader, who blathers diarrhoea in your head at the start of every race, and repeats it word for word every time you restart that race after failure or a restart because an AI car swerved in front of you at random and ruined your go.

So determined is the game not to offer anything close to an instant restart, in fact, that it also demands you painfully slowly say yes or no to a side bet on the race each time, and then just shows you which decision you made for about five seconds for no discernible reason. After this there’s maybe a cutscene to watch, followed by that HEE-larious banter from the gang member and your character, and then, after all that’s finally over, a countdown. How is this a thing in a game? Who is this for? Why did this ever happen? No one on the whole planet – not even Tyler – could want this.

I should probably mention the driving. My focus on everything else that’s so limb-amputatingly hateful about this dismal shit of a game is simply because it’s more interesting. The driving ranges from awful to mediocre, every car ludicrously floaty and chronically in favour of over-steer, and each tiresome in its own unique fashion. I won’t dwell on it, but will take the time to say that the most egregious feature of the game is your cars will handle wildly differently in and out of races.

Yes. Seriously. Take your Drifty cars, for instance. Out of a race, to drift you accelerate and then steer hard into a turn. It’s a much more simplified version of the form, and the game even has a try at a joke mocking the idea that drift would be assigned to a button. And then the moment you start a drift-based challenge, that doesn’t work any more. Now you have to, er, press a button to have the drift happen: the more familiar idea of tapping your brake and then steering into the skid. Which would be fine, if the game hadn’t gone out of its way to teach you not to do that, mock the idea of doing it, and even instruct you otherwise at the start of the first drift challenge.

Instead your car’s drifting is artificially inhibited, to make the process of accruing enough points to complete the task far more tedious than the general dicking around on the map, in a way that feels like some weird form of developmental revenge. You can assume something similar for each car type.

Almost all the cars you can buy are really horrible to drive, with the game occasionally letting you drive something good to remind you what you’re not enjoying. It’s almost as if… as if there were a way to improve things more quickly. But surely not?

Cars are improved by spending money on playing cards with unexplained car things on them, which allow incremental upgrades, occasionally at the cost of slight downgrades for other aspects. You need to improve your car to be able to compete in later quests in a chain. Cards cost around 15,000 carbucks, and you usually need about three of them to make a useful tune-up. The average race awards 7,000 carbucks, and one card. Can you see what they’ve done? Indeed, in order to make quite a piddly game drag out far, far longer, they force the player to grimly grind older, previously beaten races, to get enough cash to do the next.

It’s worth noting, if you do despise yourself enough to put yourself through this rope burn of mediocrity, that the game entirely fails to tell you what “Shipments” are, despite occasionally rewarding you with them. Buried in the god-awful pause menu (this is by Ghost Games, after all), is the Shipments section, in which you can open – yes, of course – these loot crates. They have spare money, tokens for upgrade cards, and vanity items.

And of course you can buy points with real-life money to open more of them. It’s odd just how hidden this feature is, but of course it’s an expensive way to get past all that misery-inducing grind.

It’s tempting to just keep listing all the other ways this game is a dickhead, but there’s little to gain from it. Just know that despite the hundreds of mini-challenges scattered around the impressively dull map requiring particular cars, there’s no quick way to swap which car you’re driving. You have to drive or warp to a garage, then pick a different car, then drive your way back to whichever random little bonus it was, which you’re obviously never going to do. Not least when quick travel often requires you pay one of the seventeen or so different in-game currencies for the pleasure. Instead you just feel a deep sense of despondency and wonder at your life choices.

I cannot fathom what Ghost are doing with the Need For Speed series. The introduction of smashable billboards (although not of course those with real-world advertising on them) seems like a hark back to the glory days of Criterion, but the repeated punch in the face that is the storyline and quest structure seems like something unwanted in either the Burnout or Need For Speed worlds. It’s such a ghastly game, not because of its weakly driving, but because of every single other thing it does to get in the way of it.

Need For Speed Payback is out now on Origin for a hilarious £55/$60.

107 Comments

  1. Jokerme says:

    Oh, snap!

  2. SuicideKing says:

    Ah, the simple old days of NFS II SE. Pick a car, pick a track, and race.

    “The day’s half over, or as I like to think of it, half full!”

    What?

    • Morgan Joylighter says:

      I have fonder memories of the locales from the first four NFS games (original, 2, Hot Pursuit, High Stakes) than I do about nearly every other real OR fictional place I’ve ever visited in my life. There was such glorious creativity there compared to the samey open worlds of the 21st century NFS games.

      • mejobloggs says:

        NFS 1 and 2 was slightly before my time, but I absolutely loved 3 (Hot Pursuit), 4 (High Stakes) and Porsche

        4 was kinda of an expansion to 3 iirc… extra tracks, cars and probably a few other things.

        I have strong memories of Hometown and Aquatica(?) maps. I’d race them over and over again in ghost mode, trying to improve my best times

        Also had tons of fun split-screen gaming with my brother :)

        • Rainshine says:

          Aquatica was terrifying. Those tunnels…
          Kodiak.. Park? With the train? Excellent.
          And of course, Celtic Ruins, with the ramp that let you launch yourself over cop cars. I have some of the more recent NFS games installed still on my machine, not because of the ‘story’ gameplay, but for ten minute cop chases on the highway so I can lead them off a hill at 150 and watch them burn.

    • Da5e says:

      ‘NFS II SE’ sounds like a racist forum signature.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    A friend told me that people do not get along by sharing the love for the same things, but for sharing hate. And I hate these cliches so much.

  4. renner says:

    What is Criterion up to these days? Can we just have a new Burnout please? (Or, if they must, a new Burnout with the words “Need for Speed” on the cover?)

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      80% of the company split off to form Ghost Games in 2013. The next year the founders left to form Three Fields, to work on smaller indie projects. And those who remain do support work on other EA games.

    • jusplathemus says:

      The closest thing to a new Burnout lately is Danger Zone by Three Fields Entertainment (that John mentioned). It’s basically Burnout 3’s crash mode, though not as diverse and fun as that was.

    • TheSplund says:

      …or just release the expansion map for Paradise that us PC gamers never got

      • jusplathemus says:

        There’s an unofficial mod called the Vanity Pack, which contains Big Surf Island, but not the actual events, I think (haven’t tried it yet).

    • Janichsan says:

      Working on Star Wars Battlefront II.

    • Ragnar says:

      Forza Horizon 3 is filling in for Burnout for me. It’s more realistic – if you want it to be – and doesn’t have the destruction modes, but it’s still really fun – particularly the Hot Wheels expansion that literally had me grinning with joy. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a racing game, and I’m liking it even more than Burnout Paradise.

  5. perilousrob says:

    This is the worst review I’ve read on RPS in a long time. The author is either seriously misrepresenting the game deliberately, hasn’t bothered actually playing the game and is working from someone else’s notes, or is an actual idiot that can’t understand the words both written on screen and spoken by actors.

    some examples, the ‘mean man’ offers to help get Tyler away so the police don’t catch him. Rav does rejoin the team along with the rest… at the same time even. as for driving – i’ve never had a problem with ‘driving styles’ somehow switching when I go between races and open world driving.

    Is it floaty? A bit, yeah. It’s also an arcade driving game, not a sim. It’s fine. Fun, even, if you like crazy cross country driving. It’s no Forza Horizon 3, but it’s good enough. The story is weak, and Tyler is quite annoying, but the rest are fine and it does help to drive the game along.

    It also looks & sounds fantastic. Has upgradeable cars (with upgrades that actually make perfect sense, clearly indicating what each ‘card’ offers), and a fair selection of differently handling vehicles.

    It’s a solid 7/10 – flawed, but fun.

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      Godwhacker says:

      This really hasn’t been a great day for reading the comments on RPS

      • Ross Angus says:

        I’ve been feeling that for a while, sadly.

        • oyog says:

          I’m relatively sure RPS articles about AAA games get brigaded by commenters who pose as regular readers, often commenting on a long time RPS writer’s opinion on a game that matches every other article they’ve written being out of character for the site.

          At this point I just assume that if an article has more than 20-30 comments it’s been brigaded. Aside from Flare Path’s dedicated following, anyway.

          Maybe I’m wrong and I’m just being overly cynical. I hope so.

      • Ghostwise says:

        There’s a game you can play. Pick a random comment on RPS, and say in a hackeneyed voice “gee, you must be fun at parties”. Make a note whether it would be, in fact, an entirely cromulent response.

        Once the cromulentness rate rises to 70%, you win. Put on some music and do the Carlton dance.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      “some examples, the ‘mean man’ offers to help get Tyler away so the police don’t catch him. Rav does rejoin the team along with the rest… at the same time even. as for driving – i’ve never had a problem with ‘driving styles’ somehow switching when I go between races and open world driving.”

      a) The police are already after him, sirens approaching, his name known by the police, but the man magically can stop that. Sure.

      b) I didn’t say Rav didn’t rejoin the team. I said he did. Odd complaint.

      c) I’m delighted you don’t have a problem with the way the game changes how the same car handles when a race starts. Despite this, it’s still colossally awful.

      So not a brilliant list of flaws in my review. And despite your peculiar series of accusations, I’ve spent the last two days suffering through this shite, and wrote about it.

      • perilousrob says:

        yes, the man hides him. not so much magically, more by driving away & hiding him.

        “crew back together, along with the lack of a person, Rav, your engineer” – if you don’t mean you’re lacking a person, don’t write it.

        I had typed up 3 things that sprang to mind after reading a review full of nonsense.

        * Upgrades are simple (green numbers = upgrade, red = downgrade!), bonuses are simple (3 from the same manufacturer = BONUS! yay!).

        * Upgrades and bonuses are separate. An upgraded car piece is always an upgrade.

        * Trading cards is for when you want a specific bonus (to jumping, speed, braking, whatever) for a specific car. if you don’t want one of the parts you won you can either put it toward your trading pile or you can send it to the garage for use in another of your cars.

        * Each car I tried drove differently. The simple, accessible while driving “Live Tuning” lets you change handling easily according to your preference. 2 sliders. Switched my car from grippy/turny to drifty/slippy. Drives a lot like Burnout Paradise actually. As for car handling changing (which it didn’t for me), it was you that said it was the most egregious thing in the game, which was why I brought it up.

        * Having to have the ‘right’ car with you when doing the bonus missions doesn’t sound like a big deal. Sounds like standard gaming fare. Like whining you couldn’t rocket jump in quake if you only had a pistol on you, bringing it up & making a big deal about it misrepresents the situation. Swapping cars and driving back sounds like the type of thing that many people do all the time in games, whether to get the jump bonus, loot a special weapon, reach the bonus boss, or get a weird achievement – all things people jump through hoops to do regularly.

        NFS Payback has it’s problems: it’s too expensive, the writing could be better, and the world could be more filled, but its a perfectly adequate arcade racer that has no glaring flaws beyond over-use of 80’s-style movie dialogue. I got a good laugh from how bad some of it was, and it still managed to carry the game forward.

        • HothMonster says:

          “crew back together, along with the lack of a person, Rav, your engineer” – if you don’t mean you’re lacking a person, don’t write it.

          Really? You can’t parse that sentence to mean anything other than Rav doesn’t exist? I’m not sure that is John’s fault.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          “yes, the man hides him. not so much magically, more by driving away & hiding him.”
          And how does that keep him out of jail longer term then? He’d be a wanted fugitive with an outstanding arrest warrant in his name.

          • ramirezfm says:

            Doh, simple! When they leave the police aggro range the police forgets about him. Videogames logic!

      • waltC says:

        Great review…;) I used to buy these when my son was much younger–oh, fifteen-twenty years ago–and we had a lot of fun with them. But, man, how things have changed! Back then the car games were all about the cars, the tracks, the races–and the occasional highway patrolman who would try and catch you to issue a speeding ticket…;) But this? My Gawd–this is horrible! Sounds like some teenybopper’s version of a wet-car dream! Ugh and double ugh! Like they really wanted to make GTA, but decided to go cheap, instead.

        Yep, something like this is a kiddie game–and I think your estimate of “Made for six-year-olds” is accurate. I don’t know what’s happened to the younger generation–a lot dumber than we were, for sure…;) OK, ok, so I am an old fart…I guess that’s the way things seem to all old farts when they grow “old”…;) But we need to see more honest reviews–there’s a short supply of those. So thanks. Honest criticism is not “hate”–it’s just honesty–and the world needs all of that it can get these days, imo.

      • nathsb says:

        Horrible story and dudebro protagonist aside, I think you can prevent the changes in driving style by “live” tuning your car through the T-menu. (Source: got an achievement for racing with a custom-tuned car. Also, racing my car feels identical so far.)

        On one hand, I’m just playing the game while waiting for my refund, seeing how long it’ll take for EA to deny me access. On the other, I’m quite enjoying my plucky GTI with silly wide tires. I’d agree with 7/10, really.

    • Chromatose says:

      So what you’re saying is that you broadly agree with John’s appraisal, but you enjoyed it more than he did in spite of that? Well, that’s great!

    • ramirezfm says:

      Hey, I read the whole review and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m sure if RPS gave scores it would be 7/10. There there.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      If you’re going to accuse the reviewer of having not played the game, at least take the time to read the review properly, you dolt.

    • SuicideKing says:

      It’s a 7/10 you say? A solid seven on ten? Mate, if I gave a shit about reviews handing out a 7/10 to mediocre games, I’d go read IGN or something.

    • kwyjibo says:

      There’s no way the cretins in Need for Speed could appear in a game as good as 7/10.

      Here’s Rob Florence reviewing the same game a decade ago – link to youtube.com

      How do you stand this shit?

    • thelastpointer says:

      The only problem with this article is that John spends an unnecessarily long time on the story, which, for every NFS game, should be
      a) ignored, or
      b) compared with Most Wanted.

      Because a story like MW automatically renders the whole game unplayable.

    • rb207 says:

      Each to their own but to me this is one of the best reviews I have read. The author very neatly summed up what I imagine are the main problems with this game. I have seen the trailers and some clips and I really like the way the author conveyed the frustration of the constant cut scenes and stupid ai chat. 9/10 for the reviewer.

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      MajorLag says:

      Thanks, I just can’t start my morning without an internet complaining, comic-book-guy style, about a John Walker review. Things just wouldn’t feel right, you know?

    • Ham Solo says:

      Have you tried the multiplayer? The matchmaker CONSTANTLY pits lvl 399 cars against lvl 150-175 ones, people new to it literally have no chance of winning that way. The physics are comedically wrong, too. Either it feels like a brick glued to the road or its 1980° spinning airtime after a crash, no “inbetween). Plus the whole card scheme is horrible for upgrading cars.

    • NihlusGreen says:

      Excellent review John, thanks.

  6. Freud says:

    I can’t imagine anything more in style in 2017 than dudes and bros.

  7. RWKT says:

    Jeeezus… all the characters look like assholes that get killed in horror movies.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Sounds like they’re vaguely aping Fast and Furious franchise. Which I guess is fine, but also the game just sounds bad in general.

    • DrJ3RK says:

      I’m not into those movies at all, but if there’s one person who can speak the sorts of things in the quotes, (in the review) and get away with it, it would be Vin Diesel. :D

    • RedViv says:

      Even worse! This plot is put together out of bits and pieces of the Need for Speed movie. This is absolutely astonishing.

  9. paranoydandroyd says:

    So, 8/10?

  10. Faldrath says:

    Incidentally, it’s a bit of a shame that RPS hasn’t reviewed Forza Motorsport 7. Granted, it had a lot of issues at launch but the latest patches have smoothed out many of them, and it does have its own lootbox controversy because of course it does, and it’s omg-win10-only, but I don’t think there’s a better not-really-a-sim racing game on PC these days.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zamn10210 says:

      Yes! This is one of the games I’m most excited to play at the moment (keeping an eye out for a Black Friday sale). Just because it’s on the Windows Store doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    • Ragnar says:

      Actually, Forza Motorsport 7 is a sim.

      Perhaps you’re thinking of Forza Horizon 3? That’s the Forza game that walks the line between arcade racer and sim. It’s also a ton of fun. I’m having a blast with it, particularly with a racing wheel and most of the assists off, and it looks and runs great – 5760×1080 @ 30fps with High settings on an RX 480.

      Though the drifting challenges seem designed for a controller, and are more annoying than fun. But have drifting challenges ever really been fun outside of Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed?

  11. PearlChoco says:

    Thanks John.
    I hope you’re doing the Battlefront 2 review.

    • gi_ty says:

      Please please please can we have John write the battlefront 2 review? This one was funny that one would be epic!

      • cqdemal says:

        Problem is Battlefront 2 is likely to be a competent if not excellent game ruined by horrendous business practices, so it’s not a complete turkey like Payback and most likely wouldn’t be as hilarious.

        But we can hope.

        • Ham Solo says:

          I agree with this, I like the game and the starfighter combat is amazing, but the card loadouts and microtransactions ruin it. Plus on heroes v villains maps you can’t play if all your unlocked heroes are taken. gg EA.

  12. Megatron says:

    “Just know that despite the hundreds of mini-challenges scattered around the impressively dull map requiring particular cars, there’s no quick way to swap which car you’re driving. You have to drive or warp to a garage, then pick a different car, then drive your way back to whichever random little bonus it was, which you’re obviously never going to do.!”

    Isn’t this EXACTLY the same as in Burnout Paradise which this site regularly hails as peak driving-gaming, a game “from the glory days of Criterion”?

    I’d also say the cliche-laden script sounds an awful lot like the DJ from B:P too, who was clearly a lot more riotously hilarious/edgy in someone’s head than he was in the actual game.

    That aside, NFS:Payback sounds utterly hateful and this was a fun read. I read the bits about deliberate progression grinds, and of course EA’s patented micro-transactional GreedCode(TM), with mounting horror: EA just can’t help themselves, can they?

    • bv728 says:

      They’re actually better than B:Paradise in that for most non-mini-challenge events, you can hold the mission start button to change vehicles.

      Still much else wrong with it, but a small step up there.

    • Mezelf says:

      I loved Burnout Paradise, and those 2 points were the biggest flaws in that game. It just helped that B:P was still fucking fun game despite its flaws.

    • Dinger says:

      Hey man, DJ Atomica was never on anyone’s shortlist of beloved features. Although Imust confess that I didn’t miss him till he was gone.

      My license says I’m a man now, but I’m lost without you and your payola playlist, Atomica!

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      We’ve never, ever pretended Burnout Paradise wasn’t hugely flawed. And yes, the car type issue was problematic there, too, but I’d argue not nearly as significantly. In BP you could sort of bumble along with the ‘wrong’ car, but not so here.

      However, while DJ Atomica might be one of the worst things that ever happened in gaming, it was never so intrusive as a full-on cutscene-driven multi-cast plot. And indeed NFSP also has a bloody DJ prattling shit between the awful soundtrack!

      The key difference, however, is that once you’re past BP’s miserable opening hour, it becomes a playground of fun. NFSP certainly doesn’t.

    • jusplathemus says:

      In Burnout Paradise, there was exactly one type of event that required a certain car: the time trial events. There was one event for every car where you could win an upgraded version of said car. This way, if you wanted to unlock all the cars, you have to drove every one of them at least once. I think this makes sense. In any other event, you could use the car you desired.
      And as for the DJ, he could be turned off.

    • Ragnar says:

      The DJ can be silenced – I had forgotten there even was one.

      Not being able to swap cars for an event was definitely an issue in Burnout Paradise. But, in its defense, BP had several locations throughout the relatively small city where you could go to change cars, and you could usually get through a challenge with whichever car you preferred.

      BP is also going to be 10 years old next month. We would expect today’s games to not make the mistakes of a decade ago.

      Forza Horizon 3, for example, let’s you pick from any of your eligible cars when you start a race, and once the race is over it puts you right back into whatever car you were driving before.

  13. benzoate says:

    So a discount The Crew. I didn’t such a thing was possible, especially from a (formerly known as) AAA franchise like NfS, as The Crew was pretty discount to begin with, though it does have nice scenery to drive in.

  14. Esin12 says:

    Yes. Love the scathing of John’s reviews. He always brings the real.

    • Aetylus says:

      He gets me every single time. I read “Need For Speed Payback is really very terrible indeed”. I think “holy crap, that’s brutal?”… then sure enough I remember to check the author and see Mr Walker’s name smiling out from the page.

      I swear he only did the positive review of CoDWW2 to confuse us all. (John, you need to put CoDWW2 on your botherer list so you can have a proper mainstream AAA game on it).

      • Esin12 says:

        Hahaha. Yeah, I can usually guess it’s him by the titles. I read this one and thought “That sounds like John,” and bam.

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    Frog says:

    Crappy characters, bad driving mechanics, grinding game-play, micro transactions, it’s all there! It sounds like a quite awful experience all in all, thanks for the tip John :)

    I haven’t even opened Origin since I more or less finished Andromeda and felt soiled by the experience.

  16. rustychops says:

    Reviews like this always keep me coming back to rock paper shotgun :’)

  17. ironman Tetsuo says:

    “It’s good to talk.”
    ~ Bob Hoskins, 1994

  18. Shaun239 says:

    I wish they’d just make another NFS: Underground. Especially now there’s no Midnight Club.

  19. dracvs says:

    I enjoyed this review soo much
    And for what I read it is a dreadful 1/10 or worse. I am staying quite clear of this and I am going full Forza Horizon 3. besides HOTWHEELS!!

    • Ragnar says:

      I’m having an absolute blast with Forza Horizon 3, and the Hot Wheels expansion is amazing – it’s ridiculous, silly fun, and had me grinning with joy. It has completely replaced Burnout Paradise for me.

      Though I hate how they market the game and DLC cars. The Deluxe and Ultra editions are overpriced and confusing, and don’t include either expansion. Lots of the more exciting cars are split off into DLC, and are pretty pricy themselves. I bought the Car Pass when it was on sale for $7.50, then discovered that the Car Pass does not include the Porsche car pack or the “All Stars” car pack, which are an additional $7 and $10 respectively.

  20. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    Man, I really wanted to like this (I really enjoyed Most Wanted 2012 and am possibly the only person in the world who loved Rivals), but the Origin Access trial does not make a great impression. NFS 2015 already felt like something of a step back (though it did look gorgeous), and Payback seems to be continuing the trend :-\

  21. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Is there a reason this isn’t titled “Wot I Think?” I initially skimmed right past it, not reading it was an actual RPS review of the title.

    (I very much enjoyed the review, I just am trying to figure out how a reader can parse what it is – I assumed it was one of those pre-review hot take things, or somebody not assigned to review it venting about the terribleness)

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      There’s no proper science to it, but personally I prefer to save Wot for when I’ve properly finished a game. When I’ve given up after a dozen hours in exasperation, it’s probably more effective to communicate that in the title.

      But no, it’s not clear I agree.

      • Da5e says:

        I *immediately* clicked on that headline when it popped up in my RSS thing, because it made me think ‘oh-ho, John Walker hates something!’

        More of this, please.

      • Premium User Badge

        DuncUK says:

        It’s not helped by the fact that “review” on every other periodical / website translates to the RPS WIT.

        On the other hand, for a review that ended early due to terribleness I would have gone with ‘Premature Ejection’.

  22. grimdanfango says:

    Hasn’t Fast and Furious demonstrated there’s a significant and unwavering market for staggeringly smug, one-dimensional idiots spouting the most banal tripe ever written, set to a tedious backdrop of blandly contrived “racer culture”?
    Surely everything in this game is completely on-point in terms of appealing to that market. Sounds like a product that EA shareholders can be proud of.

  23. Premium User Badge

    tigerfort says:

    Thanks, John, for brightening my evening with that.

  24. falcon2001 says:

    Can confirm. I bought this game because I like arcadey racers and all the NFS games have been up my alley, even the recent ones.

    Hoo boy. The only way to make this game enjoyable is to pretend that this is the charming tale of a main character who was born devoid of both personality AND reasoning skills who somehow manages to win the day by racing REAL FAST. I don’t mind having a racing game to play but yeah, EA does seem to have sucked almost all the fun out of it.

  25. fearandloathing says:

    Great review, we need more darn honest stuff like this

  26. Deekyfun says:

    I want to know more about this Owly character. Definate star potential there. What’s their take on Need for Speed? Or does he only like games where he can play with the mouse?

  27. brucethemoose says:

    Is this worse than TDU2’s story?

    That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Because that isn’t possible.

    • VanDerSpar says:

      That game had a story?
      I have completely forgotten every, single part of the story. Still haven’t gotten very far in it. Stuck with some Audi (Q2?) SUV challenge.

      • brucethemoose says:

        They shoehorned one in, yeah. I only remember bits, like some fanservicey woman and someone asking me to do challenges.

        Shame too. All they needed to do was add Ibiza and some cars to TDU1, and it would’ve been freaking brilliant .

  28. ludde says:

    Hi I’m youtoob crater, bu-um… got my boy marcus… hi nick?

  29. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    I miss the old Test Drive games on my C64. They were brilliant.

  30. TechnicalBen says:

    “And of course you can buy points with real-life money to open more of them.”

    That is set, game and match. That is the wrong type of “game” to draw a phrase from, but for the effort put into making this game, I’m not even going to bother thinking of a driving/racing sarcastic remark to give them.

    PS, is this EA? Oh well, they gone and did it, they finally gone and did it! (RIP gaming 2017)

  31. Premium User Badge

    samsharp99 says:

    “dismal shit of a game” – Rock, Paper, Shotgun

    Just pulled that one out for the marketing team. No need to thank me.

  32. VanDerSpar says:

    For a second I was sure Cory Arnold had moved from Destructoid to RPS.

  33. Ham Solo says:

    “The day’s half over, or as I like to think of it, half full!”

    I had to mute ingame voices.

  34. tidus89 says:

    Sooo How long till EA shuts down Ghost and buries Need for Speed?

  35. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Hey, I’m a Tyler and I don’t like any of these things. :(

  36. Captain Iglo says:

    Tyler and his friends make NFS Rivals’ narrators sound like Shakespeare.

    You are asleep…

    I am awake…

    I am the 60 seconds you’ll never have!

  37. poliovaccine says:

    “This game is a dickhead” hahaha

  38. MarkR says:

    Well, this article finally got me to sign up and comment, I’m a long time reader of both RPS and Eurogamer and I enjoy the unique style and I’ve uncovered a few gaming gems such as Bomber Crew from reading the site.

    I can’t argue with the review, very funny but at the same time I’ve played through almost all of this game (sshhuussh don’t tell anyone) as a real guilty pleasure – yes it’s nonsense but for petrolheads who’d rather drive around a map doing pointless extra activities than say walk like an Egyptian it has some appeal. If you are even mildly ambivalent about car games I agree this one would be an excruciatingly bad place to start with Forza Horizon 3 in existence.

    Also, John you missed a few other nonsenses in the game:

    1. There is a difficulty setting in the menu, for the kids of course ;), that seems to make absolutely no difference at all to the game.

    2. Why oh why in the Drag racing series do I have to complete road races which the race or runner cars would be far better suited to? Of all the bad handling you mention Drag cars that wheelie off the line for 2+ seconds have the worst handling of all in road races.

    3. How does every opponent in a race know exactly when I’m going to press the nitrous button and for how long? The AI cars almost always maintain the exact same distance in front/behind – unless they hit something – when using nitrous which makes it pointless.

    4. Getting busted has no penalty other than a restart…despite the fact you are supposed to be known criminals.

    Oh and I don’t know how far you got in the game but the ‘boss’ character banter gets even worse as you progress. Until I read your review though I sort of thought this was intended as a parody of the car film genre.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed this B movie of a game enough for what it is and talking about Payback I’ll be getting some when I trade it in because I picked up the Xbox One version.

  39. The Algerian says:

    It’s funny, FIFA 18’s protagonist is also called Tyler.

  40. thekelvingreen says:

    Tylers rule the world now. It’s the only explanation for why we keep getting the Michael Bay Transformers movies.

  41. Marclev says:

    Having a 6 year old myself, that thing about the dog, cat, and father Christmas with Owly sounds like a brilliant way to gently introduce them to gender issues, and why it’s ok for someone to not feel like they belong to the gender they were born with (the dog) and want to change to the another one (the cat), and how father Christmas and Owly don’t judge but treats them equally as its their personal choice and nobody else’s business.

    Perhaps I’m reading a tinsy bit too much into it though…

    Anyhow, brilliant review. Game sounds like a pile of wet poo, won’t be touching it with a barge pole, not least because it seem it’s another thinly disguised P2W game at full price.

    What was wrong with the old formula of choosing a race, choosing a car, and using the car to take part in the race. What else did anybody ever want from a Need for Speed game?

  42. silvershine says:

    Well…now I want an Owl

  43. Moragami says:

    “Jessica is the girl one. She’s not interested in all this silliness the boys are into! She’s sensible, and a girl”

    I lol’d at this bit of writing, well done! Probably the best thing to come from this game is going to be the hilarious reviews it will inspire.

  44. danii says:

    wow nice review :) Need to check if this game is avaiable on gamivo.com. I usually there buy games ( they have very good prices ). And few times I sold there my old games too ( I had more money for next onces ;p ).

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