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Need For Speed Payback Review

Need For Speed Payback Review


Writer: Nathan O’Connor

After the flop that was NFS Online, can this year’s instalment of the Need for Speed franchise (NFS Payback) redeem the franchise, even though the last few entries have been steadily declining in quality? Let’s find out!

Graphics: 2/5

This entire open world is so vast and diverse visually; you have dessert areas, forest areas, and the city. The open world never got boring to look at. NFS Payback looks okay at first glance, but after playing this game, I couldn’t ignore the glaring issue of bad textures. As you’re racing or trying to escape enemies, you will see textures that are so poorly rendered that they can almost hinder the experience.

At first glance, you may be thinking “What’s wrong here?” Well, just look at the foliage, see how everything besides the car is soft looking and bland. Take a moment to inspect the environment such as the trees and rocks, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Admittedly, the car itself is detailed, but if you take a moment to look at the bigger picture, you will quickly begin to realise that this game looks outdated compared to racers from even three years ago, such as Forza Horizon 2, which had beautiful foliage detail.

need for speed

 Music: 2/5

The soundtrack in Need for Speed Payback is one of the worst I’ve heard. I know soundtracks are a subjective area, but in my opinion there are only a handful of adequate tunes in this collection and certainly nothing to ‘ride’ home about.

Some songs get you hyped up such as ‘Play Dead’ and ‘Watch Me’ but while those two are good, I often find myself (even while racing) skimming through the radio to get those two songs, as listening to any other track (with a few exceptions) is a chore.


While the cinematics in NFS Payback were admirably exciting visually, they were nothing special, with muddy textures and plainly obvious resolution scaling.

My main gripe with the cinematics, however, is not how they look but actually how overdone they are. This has become a trend in modern games, but I can’t help but wish I could drive into that helicopter and get that rush, rather than the game taking me out of control and doing that cool thing for me.

need for speed

 Story: 3/5

If I am being honest, I went into NFS Payback with the expectation of disappointment as far as the story is concerned. To be fair, no one is buying a racing game for the deep narrative. In saying that, I am delighted to say the story in NFS Payback was intriguing. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t deep and thought-provoking, but at the same time it didn’t need to be.

The story is just as the game title implies; a payback story. Without getting into spoilers early in the game, someone turns on you and things just spiral out from there. This story was fun and action packed with twists and turns. I would best compare the story to the Fast and Furious franchise, something you can just lay back and enjoy without getting too involved.


I felt there was more than enough content to digest in NFS Payback; the game will keep you entertained for the duration of its 11hr storyline, and plenty of side activities such as challenging rogue racers, speed tests, collecting billboards and much more, but the real gravy of this game is the customisation. There is just so much to do here. It will keep you engrossed if you have the creative mind for it, and if not, you can skim through the community section and just download what looks good to you.

If you’re a fan of customisation, you will have a great time here.

need for speed

Controls: 5/5

Your standard control layout for a racing game, R2 to drive, L2 for brakes, square for handbrakes. Nothing special. If you have played any racing game in the past, you will feel a sense of familiarity here. As the old saying goes, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”


Gameplay: 4/5

Gameplay is really the saving grace of NFS Payback. As someone who typically ignores racing titles, I can honestly say I had just pure fun with the diverse range of gameplay, from off-road racing to drift racing and – my personal favourite – drag racing.

The open world of NFS Payback is quite vast, so to make the tedious task of driving from one end of the map to the other less of a burden, this game allows for fast travel. You can unlock this feature by finding and visiting gas stations or tune-up-shops. This will come at a cost, however, as it will set you back $500 to travel to a pick-up-shop or dealership and $200 to travel to a gas station.


This is where you can purchase new cars. There are different dealerships for the different types of cares (drift, race etc.)

What I really hated about NFS Payback: 

  • Texture Quality
  • Overabundance of cutscenes
  • Soundtrack

What I really liked about NFS Payback: 

  • Fun gameplay
  • Solid controls
  • Story
  • Customisation

I would recommend this entry in the Need for Speed franchise to just about anyone. In comparison, the previous NFS entry (released back in 2016) is a much more complete package with a full single player and multiplayer experience, compared to the previous year’s NFS which was online only. In my eyes, this year’s NFS Payback is a big improvement. If you can withstand the visuals and just enjoy the gameplay then this is a perfect pick up if you’re a fan of the series or just looking to scratch that itch for a good racer.