Need for Speed Payback: XBox One Review
Released by EA
Platform: XBox One
The Need for Speed series is one that's clearly always aimed for stupidity over anything else.
Essentially about the wipeouts and the totalling of your opposition on the road, this is the 23rd entrant into the series (there are as many of these as there are Fast and Furious series entrants clearly) and to be honest, it feels a little like the wheels are falling off.
Set in the fictional world of Fortune Valley, the game plonks you right in the middle of the action as one of three playable characters who get caught up in a heist that doesn't go according to plan.
Being set up by a shady boss and being betrayed, it's up to you to clear their name and get revenge (the payback of the title obviously).
With around 18 hours of story to get through, there's enough to dive into with Need for Speed: Payback, but what happens with the game is the more time you spend with it, the more you realise how it pales compared to the previous entrants.
It's barely helped by the cliched dialogue and lunkheaded way the story unfolds - yes, I know you're not expecting Oscar worthy material for games sometimes, but the reality is, the more engaging it is, the better the immersion - and I found myself rolling my eyes too much too often.
A lot of the game's pulled back from what the series used to offer - be it the police chases or the wipeouts, it just seems a hell of a lot tamer than it was in the past with checkpoints and targets to hit rather than seat-of-your-pants-moments which make you question if you'll escape in time.
The thrill wanes in many ways - and while graphically the game's good, solid just doesn't seem to be enough for this latest Payback.
Slow mo crashes happen here and there and the opening sequence where you segue from racer to racer clearly has been ripped from the Grand Theft Auto and Forza series, but that's also part of the problem.
Little in Need for Speed: Payback feels original or clever - in fact, it feels rushed, lazy and more homage to the series than anything.
Plenty of side quests may offer enough to do, but given involvement and immersion in the game are lighter than ever, it's almost a waste of time.
Ultimately, Need for Speed: Payback is an exercise in playable formula - but it's a disappointment in terms of what the Need For Speed series signifies - and what it could be.