Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Need for Speed Payback Review


Need for Speed, which gamer has never heard the name of this one racing franchise. Since the beginning of its existence in several generations of platforms ago, it has always been known as arcade racing game with a strong appeal. That unlike a simulation game that tries to represent a real driving sensation, Need for Speed ​​is trying to offer a super simple control scheme to leave a strong impression that you are, who holds full control over the super fast cars that are on your television screen. The peak of its own popularity occurs when the Underground series is released in two series, offering street racing sensation, cool music, and super cool car customization. Admittedly, its popularity is declining from year to year.

Releasing its status as an annual release franchise, EA finally decided not to release the latest series in 2016 yesterday. This one-year-old extra time will give Ghost Games more space to think of an innovative concept or design a more seductive product, especially after what happened with the 2015 series yesterday that provoked quite a lot of criticism. The challenge was answered with a new series that they named as "Payback" with trailers and screenshots which all show one thing in common - an approach with a noticeable Hollywood flavor. We happened to have a chance to taste it earlier than the final release.

So, what is actually offered by Need for Speed ​​Payback this? Why do we call it a game that is getting worse? This review will discuss it more deeply for you.

Plot


With just the release of the inaugural trailer and a series of screenshots released during the last few months, it seems that most of you have "understood" what kind of approach EA and Ghost Games will offer this latest series. That's right, following a popular formula like Fast and Furious that begins to feel like a superhero movie driving the car, the Hollywood-style action approach is the basis for this Payback.

But this story is no longer told from a single character point of view, but four characters are joined in the same crew. Three of the four crew you can control as a Playable character. There was Tyler, Mac, and Jess expert at the wheel, and Rav - an incredibly capable technician capable of "juggling" any car into a super high-speed work yourself. All three are already incorporated in the same crew from the beginning, committing a crime to earn extra money. Unfortunately, one of their last jobs ended up boomerang. They were betrayed.


The supposedly easy work ended in disaster after one of the connectors they believed - Lina Navarro betrays them. No kidding, Lina turned out to work under a criminal organization boss better known as "The House". With their power and massive money, The House aims to take control of all the underground businesses that take place in the Fortune Valley, from casinos to wild street racing that turns significant amounts of money in there. Seeing Tyler, Mac, and Jess as a threat, Lina tried to silence them until, threatening her third life. A move that is actually greeted with a stronger resistance, especially considering one of the other bosses who do not want The House to power named "The Gambler" supports this Tyler et al action.

Then, can Tyler, Mac, and Jess able to stop the ambition of The House? What kind of race do they have to go through to defeat Lina? Who are the parties involved in The House action? All answers to questions you can get by playing Need for Speed ​​Payback this.

Hollywood Flavor


As we talked about before, it is clear to mention that one of Payback's main inspirations is a Hollywood film that has a similar foundation - a racing crew who also works as a criminal for a variety of different motivations, with dramatic and excessive action sides at some point story. You will see high jumps, seemingly impossible maneuvers, explosions, and some cliches that seem to be unfamiliar to your eyes who have tasted various media products with similar stories. Everything is wrapped in super cool nan-like cars that promised Ghost Games, will you be able to modify.

So like when watching the latest Fast and Furious on the big screen, rationalization is one of the attitudes that you should throw away when talking about the story for Need for Speed ​​Payback. We are not just talking about a variety of stunts that are almost impossible to do in the real world, to car modifications that can end up being overwhelming for an organization that is supposed to be, committing a crime. But the "irrationality" is indeed to be admitted, ending up making some parts difficult to accept even the healthiest sense. As an example? Believe it or not, at one point, you'll race a wild racing organization that has a pretty mainstream, anti-establishment and anti-capitalist agenda, while spurring their super-cool vehicle with expensive designs, mumpuni modifications, and high speed on the road. First, it goes against their agenda. Second, how can this political agenda be achieved by street racing? Only Ghost Games know.


As for the matter of presentation and visual detail, you do not seem to have any doubt with the ability offered by Frostbite Engine which so far, it never disappoints. One that deserves thumbs up is to make Fortune Valley - your main "play" arena as a world more pampering the eye than the 2015 series. For starters, you are no longer stuck in the night. With a dynamic day / night system, you can enjoy the Fortune Valley atmosphere split into two broad categories: urban and dry deserts with fantastic lighting. Detailed cars on offer are also quite satisfactory, although you still have no chance to explore every interior of them.

The rest, you will meet with a variety of effects that are injected to produce more dramatic effects. For racing games like this, nothing is more effective to adapt the slow-motion effects for the various epic acts you take, than just destroying police cars / opponents trying to destroy you, until when you end up crashing and destroying billboards scattered around the corner -the city corner. So like the Need for Speed ​​series in the past anyway, Ghost Games also put quite a lot of library songs to accompany your exploration action. Unfortunately, only a few songs that we think end up pulling and "locking" our sense of hearing.


From the presentation side, it's exciting to see the Frostbite Engine's ability to blend the fantastic Fortune Valley, both in urban areas and the dry desert. The decision to restore the cut-scene in pre-rendered CGI format rather than the half-hearted attempt that was shown in the 2015 series with a real-life-based actor-based movie that felt weird and awkward deserves to be appreciated. But the standard of its own quality can not be praised, because some details, including animated facial motion of each character does not look alive with a personality that is also calculated weak and not memorable. Back, interesting on the visual side, quite disappointing on the other side of the presentation.

OffRoad So Highlight!


If it should be simplified, the experience offered by Need for Speed: Payback is not much different from the Need for Speed ​​series that you've known, at least if referring to what they injected in the series of 2015 ago. That for an arcade-based racing game, the sensation of racing and driving the vehicle at high speed is still satisfactory. With one simple button and a few brake combinations, you can create super satisfying drift motion while trying to keep your car on track. While its Fortune Valley open-world scheme, you'll be faced with many icons on the screen to complete.

Broadly speaking, the mission at Fortune Valley itself is divided into several categories. Of course there is a major mission that you need to finish to spur the progress of the existing story. But the design itself is not direct, because to get into the main story and get involved with the sensation of Hollywood action movie that he offers, you usually have to complete some small main missions first of which most of them end up to subdue certain organizations. The rest of this mission is broken down into an attempt to be first on some challenging tracks. Fortune Valley also offers some "side missions" such as asking you to spur speed at a certain point to destroy the existing Billboard. There is also another mission called "Derelicts" that asks you to search and find old car pieces to be redesigned into a "super" car that is flexible for the modification process. The clue you get is a piece of map that requires you to explore Fortune Valley itself.


Interestingly, the Need for Speed ​​Payback race sessions beyond the cut-scene-based main story are divided into five broad categories: Race, Drift, Drag, Runner, and the most special in our eyes - OffRoad. For three broad categories like Race, Drift, and Drag, you seem to be familiar with the gameplay system that is not much different. Race about being the fastest, Drift asks you to collect as many points as you can through high-speed "ngesot" action, and Drag about driving the vehicle as fast as possible with precision using nitro and shifting gears. What is different is the Runner who as the name suggests, it positions itself as a full mission side of the action compared to the others. This one mode will require you to spur the vehicle, from simply delivering critical intelligence to some important areas, to escape police chase. For this one matter, crashing and destroying them is always a fun activity.

But for us personally, the highlights for this variety of racing modes seem to fall on the OffRoad race sessions that will position the Mac as a talent behind the wheel. Broadly speaking, he does feel like a rally mode that will require you to quickly but also consistently set the motion of a car that is so "slippery" on the dusty ground. Falling in the presentations that often take you through the wonderful wilderness areas with pampering scenery, OffRoad also often offers more "open" tracks than other racing modes. So no longer just following a predetermined path, the path is usually more open with some alternative ways to go, which is sometimes, even risky because it requires you to go through the streets with many permanent barriers, such as rocks to just "poles" or big trees ready to make you stop just like that. Therefore, even against AI though, the race in OffRoad mode is difficult to predict. You who are in the back position though, will be able to end up being the first if indeed the situation supports.

One side of the design that we regret enough is the fact that it will need a grinding process to complete, something we will talk about more deeply in separate sessions later. But to give you a little idea, to race and complete missions in these five separate categories, you can not use the same car! True, Need for Speed ​​Payback decides and encourages the mechanism that you need a different car with a specific specialization for each of these types of races. Drift cars can only be used for drift, Drag cars can only be used for Drag, and the like. You can imagine how troublesome you are when you begin to get into a major mission with a higher level of difficulty, because inevitably, there is a need to buy a faster and more reliable car. One of the biggest root problems of Need for Speed ​​Payback in our eyes.

Grindy


You can believe it or not, but this is our biggest complaint in Need for Speed ​​Payback. That racing game that should be straightforward and can be enjoyed just like this, ended up being a grindy game, even in some point, worse than even RPG games. For those of you who are not too familiar with the term "Grinding", this is a word to represent activities where you take monotonous activities outside the main mission to find any level or resource needed to strengthen your main character. Yes, we do not overdo it, this happens in Need for Speed ​​Payback.

We've talked about the fact that every category offered in Payback will demand a different car, where one will not be able to be used for another activity. The result? To complete 5 separate categories, you need 5 cars. Remember, like racing games in general anyway, along with the progress of the story that appears, you will also be faced with enemies that are now reinforced with faster performance and more difficult tracks. This means, slowly but surely, you will inevitably will no longer be able to rely on the performance modification process in your old car. You end up buying the latest car to drive it faster like a common arcade racing game. The difference? You must prepare at least 5 cars to ensure you will have no trouble finishing the existing story mode.

"Keep what the problem is, buy it!", This may be your first thought. Not as easy as you imagine, because Ghost Games wrap this game with another new mechanism they call "CARPG", a genre that combines CAR and RPG. That unlike the Need for Speed ​​series in the past where performance customization was offered through modifications in the nearby workshop with obvious changes occurring with existing stats, Payback simplified it in the "Equipment Card" system. That Card containing parts of this car becomes a user-interface to speed up and strengthen your vehicle. This card itself appears as a reward for every successful race you have won, with significant changes to various statuses. This system is no different from Equipment systems in RPG games.

The bad news? They add a Power Level layer a la RPG game also in every enemy you will encounter on the main mission that exists. So, when you want to race AI in the main story, you should first check the "Power Level" of your current car. There will be a recommendation level assigned to each mission, and it is strongly recommended to at least comply if you intend to win. Because of the slightest Power Level difference, you may end up frustrated by the irrational level of AI difficulty, even in the Normal difficulty level.

What you find, then, is an effort to consistently ensure your car meets the recommended level of the major missions available to drive the story. This increase will consistently continue to occur. One mission that begins with Power Level 100, will increase to 110, 125, 130, and possibly close at 150. So your earliest car is only at level 100, now must meet at least 50 extra levels to get into the race recommendation level to can compete "rationally". Sometimes this extra level you can get from a good card that emerged from the previous race rewards, but not a few also demands you to buy it from the Shop there. Using the in-game currency earned, this is an essential activity. Slow but sure, shop the best equipment card, and make your car more competitive.

One other disadvantage that makes this system increasingly injured is the fact that its own AI does not look balanced. Even if you play in the "normal" level of difficulty and meet the existing level of recommendation, you often encounter racing situations in any category, where you remain losing fast, losing out and competing with these cars. That this level of "recommendation" ends no more than a low-level warning you must meet, because even 20-30 levels higher, you can often end up behind an AI car that goes so fast, leaving you mercilessly. Remember, even though the level needs you already meet. You will end up pushing your car to buy more powerful equipment cards.

To do it, you certainly need money, right? Where does money come from to strengthen your car if you can not even win the latest race? In the end, Payback requires you to re-play missions that you could finish in the lower level, to get the money reward, and end up buying better equipment in order to win in the latest race. The grinding process begins. Are you tired? Wait a minute, believe it or not, this race will also adjust to offer you an opponent with a higher level of car than when you finish. In the middle of a locked car condition is weak, your opponent is getting stronger, and you are increasingly frustrated because you can not win, even in a race that is already, pique is a common thing.

What Payback does is encourage you to take the same mission over and over, lose or win. Because even in a losing position, you will still get some money you can save to strengthen your car afterwards. But there is something strange about this system. Why? Since most racing gamers, including us, will usually hit the "RESTART RACE" button once we know that the conditions are almost impossible to win. We want to try again from the beginning. In Payback, this option is available, but you will not get the essential in-game currency to buy the Equipment Card, which will be earned only if you complete the race. The result? You will not want to, have to keep racing until finished in the name of money, even if you do not enjoy it. Solely, to finish this game.


Want to hear that part is even more annoying? All the series of complaints we have written ONLY happen in one car alone. Imagine what you need to do with the fact that the 5 categories of racing (although Drift can be completed without a fast car) require 5 different cars. Worse yet? Winning the main mission will not give you a free car for each of those categories. In the midst of famine money because it must continue to strengthen your car in one category by continuing to buy an existing equipment card, you also have to save to buy another category car. Especially considering, in certain circumstances, this jump in Power Level requirements can suddenly soar at different points of the story, until you will not want to, have to reconsider buying a new car more relevant. The problem is back, making money.

There is little effort to balancing here, obviously done by EA and Ghost Games. One of them is to introduce a Lootbox system called SHIPMENTS here, which will be available whenever you complete the main story or just "raise the level" of your profile reputation whose system is no different from the EXP system and the level in the RPG game. With random SHIPMENTS content, you can get a variety of extra content, from just cosmetic items, to money in it. Additional thousands up to tens of thousands of extra money will help smooth your little racing action. But is he the solution to all the problems we have described above, especially from how grindy he is? No.

Pay to Win Concerns


With a little talk about Shipments above, you seem to have understood that through the same lootbox system, EA and Ghost Games are also trying to find the extra money coffers. We would not even be surprised to mention that the Need for Speed ​​Payback mechanism is designed as grindy as possible to encourage gamers who are no longer able to withstand the need to play repetitive tracks with increasing difficulty levels to finally "surrender" and buy existing lootboxes by mechanism real money. Although we ourselves do not feel it and choose to grinding (although not yet completed the main story that exists), but the intention is clearly reflected.

The bad news again? With the multiplayer side also available, where you can spur your vehicle against other cars, the presence of this SHIPMENTS mechanism can not be praised. We will not object to the microtransactions system if it does not affect gameplay performance at all when going into online mode. But what happens here is a strong concern for a clear format, feels like Pay to Win. Why? Because as we know, in addition to cosmetic items, one of the content that you can get inside Shipments itself, is in-game money.

This means, gamers who buy Shipments with their real money, will have the possibility to earn massive amounts of in-game money, along with the number of Shipments they buy. With more in-game money, they can do one of two things: It buys faster cars to use and, of course, strengthens their cars with more variants of card equipment. So indirectly, gamers who spend real money will have the opportunity to get and build a faster and more perfect car. Not just in single-player mode, the same car will be able to take them to run in multiplayer online mode, and compete against other players. Pay to Win it feels too obvious there.

Worse yet? The bonus does not just stop there. The more Shipments you open, the more resources the "Part Token" you get. Part Token functions like a lottery ticket to get the specific equipment card you need to strengthen your car, but in slot machine format. Sacrificing three Token Partitions will allow you to "play" a chance to get the specific part you want. The more Part Tokens, the more chance you play, the more chance you get the better and stronger equipment card. Back, Pay to Win sentiment.

It's a bit sad indeed, to see that EA has a tendency to not improve Need for Speed, but instead fulfills it with a variety of clear mechanisms, designed to make you spend more money if you do not want to go through the grinding process. The concept of Pay to Win is also reflected in the fact that content Shipments have a chance to directly influence, performance and what kind of car you can use. For a paid AAA game, coercion mechanism concept that is identical with the mobile market is indeed provoked big question mark. What happen, EA ?!

Embedded Modification

If you hear how EA and Ghost Games are promoting their games over the last few months, then modifications are indeed one that is consistently talked about. There is promise that there will be more freedom to modify your vehicle to make it more personal, especially from the cosmetic side. The opportunity to develop your decal also makes this potential limited. Interesting? Yes and no.

Instead of directly opening it to you just like that, Ghost Games decided to make this modification process ends up being an extra challenge. To be able to unlock some of the existing parts, you must complete certain specific missions that you can see behind the padlock listed on each locked element. Unfortunately, apart from so many categories that you can "play", the modifications in each element behind it can not be said much. For spoilers for example, there are only a few that you can pay and use to make your car look more beautiful. Some other visual modifications such as nitro color or just a horn sound you can get from the existing lootbox system.

The good news? For you who have high creativity still have the freedom to build the decal you need, with a simple user-interface. Choosing a decal, color, position, and size is not difficult to master at a glance. More cool? With Photo Mode feature that is also available at the beginning of the game, you can capture beautifully and cinematically every car you design in it, even in the most absurd and unique conditions though. To simply show off, this feature performs its job well.

But unfortunately, if you read our last session, then you understand that these cosmetic changes are no longer tied to existing performance. That changing the car part no longer affects what your car looks like. Such a system is indeed a double-edged sword. On the one hand, not tied to performance means giving more absolute freedom for gamers to experiment with the cosmetic side without worry. But on the other hand, it eliminates a bit of a realism sensation that was previously offered by older series, such as the fact that spoilers can alter downforce for cars and the like. Everything that is changed to nothing more than the current card system.

Conclusion

Not being in the best condition seems to be a sentence explaining what the Need for Speed ​​Payback offers by Ghost Games and EA. We may all hope that EA and Ghost Games may be able to learn a bit from the scathing criticism that came to the 2015 series. And indeed, in some ways they heard the gamers' feedback. No more systems just night when the race, no more always-online system, no more stories with cut-scene original people which is just weird and awkward. At some point, Need for Speed ​​offers a better format, in a Frostbite Engine that never fails to surface. But on the other hand, it comes with many new mechanisms that are questionable.

Instead of returning the franchise to its heyday, EA and Ghost Games decisions in this game we think, even make it fall deeper into the bottom of the expectations of gamers. Instead of fixing the gameplay system and making it feel like a classic racing game Need for Speed ​​of the past we've been craving, we just met a grindy racing game that seemed to be designed to make you upset and end up buying a lootbox system, which unfortunately also has the potential into a Pay to Win format because the content of in-game money is also available in it. A racing experience that should be straightforward, feels like a "hard work" to be done.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you are a fan of Need for Speed ​​or not, we do not recommend this one game, at least until the issues we discussed above are acknowledged, overhauled and redesigned by EA and Ghost Games in the future. A racing game that should only have to focus on the mission to be the fastest and greatest, ending up being a game that is no longer fun and exhausting through the variety of grinding processes needed. Very regrettable.

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