If you watched EA’s Gamescom 2017 presentation, you probably saw the new BMV M5 takes center stage. Well, after the presentation was over I got the chance to get behind the wheel.
Not behind the wheel of the actual BMV M5, mind you. I’m talking about the digital version in Need for Speed Payback. And by wheel I’m talking about an Xbox One controller.
There where 2 different modes to choose from. First, I decided to tackle a short portion of the single-player campaign. The segment I got to play was the same one we first saw at E3 earlier this year. In it, I had to catch up to an armored truck driving recklessly through a desert road. However, before I could approach the truck, I had to dispose of its escort.
That was when I has a chance to experience the car combat. Calling it combat might be stretching it a little, since all you do is bump into other cars in high speeds, but it was really fun nonetheless.
You can push your rivals into other cars or telephone poles with relative ease, but they will also try and do the same to you if you aren’t careful. There are no special ramming moves or anything like that, so you have to be precise if you want to make sure you don’t smash into the railing together with the other car. It’s not super challenging, but it is exhilarating. And getting to see the enemy car crashing in slow-mo is a nice little reward.
I’m sure the 3 main characters, Taylor, Jess and Mac, where talking among themselves constantly, but it never quite registered. I can barely remember any dialog, so I can’t really say anything about it. The story simply took a back seat to all the action and driving.
Once I got rid of all the cars around the truck, I had to drive next to it so Jess could jump on top of it. Getting close to the truck wasn’t all that of a problem, but staying beside it for a few seconds while avoiding incoming traffic proved to be more difficult then I expected.
When I finally managed to do so, the demo was pretty much over. Jess jump over to the truck and stole the supercar it was carrying. I did get to drive it for a few seconds before the police arrived and the demo ended. It was… pretty cool. It felt different than the car I drove for most of the demo. Not just because it was faster, but because it was smoother and more responsive. I wish I had a chance to try and shake the police just to experience the car in action.
After the single-player demo ended, I switched over to the other mode available – racing. This is pretty straight forward, so there isn’t a lot to say about it. It was in this mode that I got to drive the BMV M5.
It was all going swimmingly at first. I zigzagged through my rivals, rammed into them to get them out of my way, and generally made good headway. Then I crashed head on into a signpost and everything was lost. I made it to 5th place.
During the race, I could plainly see how the different cars I was racing against behaved differently. Some let me pass them rather easily, but other kept cutting me off and even tried to run me off the road. It wasn’t like racing against human opponents, but it did provide a decent challenge. After all, I couldn’t recover from that mid-race mishap with the signpost.
But whether I was driving the supercar or the BMV M5, control was always arcadey, fun and intuitive. Need for Speed has never targeted the hardcore sim fans, and Payback is no different. Frankly that’s exactly how I like my driving games.
I enjoyed my short time with Need for Speed Payback. While I didn’t get to try more than 3 cars, and never had a chance to customize any of them, it still liked the raw gameplay. The game shows plenty of promise, and I do like the fact it has a full single-player with a story and everything (even though I didn’t really pay attention to it while playing).
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