Need for Speed 2017

Need for Speed returns in this, a grossly unremarkable open world racer that marks another step back for the series.

Need for Speed Payback review

Where exactly to start with Need for Speed Payback, Ghost Games' third take on EA's long-running arcade racer series? Let's go with Tyler Morgan, the figurehead of the three-strong crew you take control of in your attempt to win back the streets of Fortune City, an expansive caricature of Las Vegas that stretches from a city that bustles with casinos out to the dusty wilds. This is Tyler - or 'Ty', to his friends.

He is an indistinguishable smear of a human, and after a dozen hours in his presence I can't think of a single defining characteristic of his barely written personality. I think perhaps he's a bit rebellious, because his t-shirt says so, but really it tells you everything that EA decides to lead its return to a more narrative brand of Need for Speed with this complete non-entity of a character. It is, in so many ways, an indistinguishable smear of a video game.

How swiftly this series has fallen from grace, and how long ago Criterion's brief yet wonderful stint on Need for Speed now feels. All that, and its premise promises so much more - a playable spin on Fast & Furious, that glorious series where Buicks and the high-wire stunts of Buster Keaton combine, Payback should be a slam dunk. It's obvious quite early on that it isn't, when you're playing one of its handful of cinematic missions and control is rudely wrestled from you just as things get interesting. In Need for Speed Payback, cars will make daring lunges for speeding cargo trucks, or bring down low-flying helicopters. And all you can do is sit back and watch.

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