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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Need for Speed Heat is a racing game for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs. The game encourages players to engage in illegal street races, exceed the speed limit, and run away from police when they try to stop players from driving too fast in forbidden races. The dialogue includes such curse words as "s--t" and "bulls--t," and players who go online may hear worse, as online communication isn't monitored. The game will feature new packs of cars, which will be available in the future to download for the game as additional content. Also, the cars in the game are real ones, from real car companies. Finally, this is the latest game in the long-running Need for Speed franchise, which also launched a movie that featured similar fast-paced stunts.
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What's it about?
Set in the fictional town of Palm City, NEED FOR SPEED HEAT casts you as an up-and-coming street racer who attends an organized racing event by day and engages in illegal street races as night. Just be careful, especially in the latter events, as the cops in Palm City really, really hate scofflaws, and will do whatever they can to stop you from racing, and thus earning money you need to buy better cars and car parts. Well, unless you can get to one of your safe house first. You can customize your ride, tuning your engine and vehicle to suit the races you enter, which will hopefully give you an edge against the competition and the cops. Good luck on the streets, because not coming in first or getting pinned in by the police could end your racing career faster than you can blink.
Is it any good?
Continuing to improve the franchise from one chapter to the next, EA's open-world street racing series really nails it with this new installment. Set in the Miami-like Palm City, Need for Speed Heat has you engaging in illegal street races at night and sanctioned closed-street ones during the day. But unlike Payback and other racing games, the time of day doesn't slowly change when you're behind the wheel. Instead, players swap between day and night with the click of a button, and can even easily check which period has open events (it's usually the night). Not only does this switch change the kind of races you'll enter -- daytime is the right time for multi-lap events, while night races are point-to-point ones -- but the cops are also more determined to stop you when it's dark out. Which means night races have the added challenge of making you run from the police while trying to beat your competition. Add to that solid controls and twisty tracks made from wide city streets, and you have yourself a solid arcade-esque street racing game.
That said, there are some small speed bumps. This doesn't have the depth of options found in other recent racing games.You can't adjust the controls to make this more like a simulation, rewind when you spin out, or follow a suggested racing line. It's also a little annoying that the fast travel system only takes you from one safe house to the next (assuming you've found them), instead of directly to a race. Finally, it can sometimes be hard during a day race to tell how far ahead or behind you are, as your car is represented on the mini-map by a white triangle outline. Since the buildings and streets are white and light gray, it can be easy to get lost during a competition. But these issues are so minor that they barely qualify as problems and are more like minor annoyances. For the most part, Need for Speed Heat is a solid street racing game that will get your motor running.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about driving safely. In Need for Speed Heat, you engage in illegal street races. Do you know why these races are illegal? Why do you think people choose to risk themselves or others in these activities?
Need for Speed Heat has you running away from the police when you do something wrong. But if you do something wrong, shouldn't you admit you've made a mistake and accept the consequences, as opposed to running away? Why does running even seem like an option?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.