Review: Need for Speed: Payback (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Jessie Ljunggren, posted Nov 21, 2017
Nov 21, 2017
  • Release Date (NA): November 10, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): November 10, 2017
  • Release Date (JP): November 10, 2017
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Ghost Games
  • Genres: Racing, Simulation
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Stop granny-shifting when you should be double-clutching in the newest installment of Need for Speed!
Jessie Ljunggren


Just Like Real Life!

You take your brand new 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STI down to your favorite tuner shop and get it outfitted with an aftermarket ECU (computer). Everything is amazing and you love it. In 2016, a new ECU comes out and you head back to the same shop to get the new hotness. Fast forward to 2018 and 2 new ECU iterations later, and you are so happy with your car that you buy the exact same one for your girlfriend.

"I can't put the 2018 ECU in this car" says the mechanic.

"Why not? It's the exact same car as mine, and it has the 2018 ECU!" you counter, slightly dumb-founded.

"Well, you see, this one has off-road tires on it, so I can only put the 2015 ECU on." he replies as he smears engine grease across your paperwork. "But I'll tell you what, pay me to put the 2015 ECU on and wait 10 minutes, and then I'll go ahead and install the 2016 ECU in it-- for full price, of course. Then just wait another 10 minutes and I'll throw in the next years version, and so on!"

"Ok, I still have my old 2015 ECU from my car, just put that in." you whimper, wishing you still had your Winnie the Pooh pacifier from when you were 2.

"Sorry chum, you have to buy a brand new one or it's a no-go!".

Welcome to Need for Speed: Payback


Long-Lasting Flavor

Greetings future gamer from 2021 ! If you were looking to try out this classic game, you're probably out of luck since the EA game servers no longer support this title. Unfortunately, that means you cannot earn or purchase any loot boxes to help skip the mindless grinding of dull missions for cards to help boost the performance of your car (somehow?). Consider yourself lucky, though! Imagine how it was for us in 2017 when we had to pay FULL RETAIL TRIPLE-A PRICE just to be swindled for more money once we started the game up!




Worry not, though, there are plenty of missions and things to do with a nice, big map in which to do them-- if you enjoy doing the same exact thing over and over. You may have played some of the earlier Need for Speed titles, and while those missions were also repetitive, they somehow didn't feel as forced or recycled as the ones in Payback do. One of the games only saving graces are the controls; They feel pretty dang good, and you can live-tune the handling on any vehicle so you can get the perfect sweet spot between stability and speed to fit your play-style.

Completing missions award you experience points to level up your Reputation, which as far as I can tell only serve to allow you the option of eventually being able to draw higher ranked cards. What's that? You're level 20 and 85% of the way through the game? Sorry, you'll have to either randomly win, visit a shop with a random assortment of cards with a 10-minute refresh timer, randomly gamble by turning in 3 other cards, or buy a loot box with real life money to get re-roll tokens and additional flair (randomly) just to acquire a card that is ONE level better than the one you have equipped already. And don't try to use a high-level car to buy high-level cards and send them to storage-- they ONLY work with the same "class" of car, even if it is the exact same model car. With 5 different "classes", it gets annoyingly tedious to acquire an end game set of maxed out cars. The game also forces you to use these "classes" for every mission, forgoing your car of choice for some rice burner that handles like a log wagon being led by a rabid horse because your car doesn't match the "class" type.

The main Story missions are a guilty pleasure, even if the writing and plot are cornier than a Nebraskan farm. It transitions from action scene to gameplay seamlessly, and it makes you feel like you are playing in the summer blockbuster "9 Fast 9 Furious"-- it's actually pretty dang fun. These sequences aren't very long, unfortunately, and you get dumped back into mediocrity for most of the game, which is actually pretty short. Rolling for parts takes up a bulk of the game, and sure, you can customize the look of your car, but why bother when it doesn't alter the performance of the vehicle? The card system really killed one of the best aspects of the Need for Speed series-- unlocking parts sequentually and then tricking out your favorite whip with triple-decker spoilers and all kinds of other silly bits and bobs.


Music Producer Simulator 2017

Have you ever wanted to feel like a big-time music producer? Well, look no further! Enjoy the beautiful sunset and high-speed cornering around hairpin turns while listening to a veritable cornucopia of shitty demo tapes from young "artists" who insist they can make it in the big leagues! Make sure to tell your secretary to never take a call from these budding talents, sending them all straight to voicemail, with personal bias to songs such as:

  • Lethal Bizzle - I Win (Feat. Nas)
  • Ho99o9 - City Rejects


  • Haikaiss - Raplord (Feat. Jonas Bento)

Thanks to divine providence, your vehicles have zero sound-proofing for the interior cabin, even on the $1m vehicles, which means your engine, turbo, and nitrous injection system will drown out the wailing screeches coming out of your budget stereo speakers that somehow short out when you come to a complete stop, leaving you in awkward silence.

Also, I hope you're ready for a bunch of ancient, dead memes every 5 minutes via phone calls from your annoying teammates and rivals! Get ready for dank classics such as "American muscle cars vs. imports", "ignorant rich kid who can't actually drive", "mods that somehow make a car 'jump' higher", and the always popular "where's the drift button?".



Game Trailer

+ AAA Graphics
+ Fun Arcade Style Controls
+ Cheesy Cinematic Sections
- Horrible Music
- Cheesy Cinematic Sections
out of 10
Pay-to-Win and Wait-to-Play do not a Triple-A title make. Final rating: $$$ out of 10

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