Need For Speed: Heat will put you in the driver’s seat of a plethora of cars you’ll use to tear up the streets of Palm City. It is an excellent arcade racer with a police chase mechanic that is right up there with the best of them.
You spend your days racing in the Speedhunter Showdown, racing in sanctioned events across the game’s huge map for cash. When the sun sets, you and your crew risk it all on illegal street races to prove who’s the best in town. Here are a few things you should know before hitting the streets of Palm City.
9/9 The First Choice
The first thing the game does is throw a seemingly simple choice at you. You get to choose a car. There are four choices in front of you. A ’96 Nissan 180SX Type X, a ’65 Ford Mustang, a ’88 BMW M3 Evolution II, and a beautiful ’66 Chevrolet Camero SS. Don’t get your hopes up, though. The Camero isn’t actually for sale.
The difference between the three selectable cars might seem minimal, but the consensus is that the Nissan 180SX is the one to choose. The BMW might outpace the Nissan on a long stretch of straight road, but the Nissan’s maneuverability and quickness win the day.
8/9 Burning A Hole In Your Pocket
Now that you’ve picked your ride, it’s time to settle in. The daytime racing scene will earn you some scratch, but try not to spend it all at the dealership buying new cars. It’s better to invest that money in your starter vehicle, beefing it up the best you can until you get to level 16.
This is when the fan favorite car, the Porsche 911 RSR, is unlocked. Considered by most to be one of, if not the best, cars in the game, the 911 RSR will put you across the finish line in a hurry.
7/9 get driftin’
The drifting mechanic in NFS: Heat is pure joy. The game makes it simple to do and hard to master, but when you pull it off, boy does it feel good. Even cars not specifically set up for drifting can slide around corners relatively easily, so it will do you good to practice.
There are several challenges scattered across the map and even a few drifting events that will help honor your skills. You can customize how you initiate drifting in the menu, switching from the default gas pump to the brake tap method. Just be sure to stay off that handbrake — it does more harm than good.
6/9 Nighttime smarts
A different kind of racing rules the streets of Palm City after the sun goes down, and Lt. Mercer and his goons know it. Once an officer sees you racing after dark, your heat level rises. Heat level not only acts as an indicator of how hard you are being pursued, but it is also your Rep modifier.
Until you get a car that can compete, try to keep your heat below level three. At level three, the cops break out the fast cars — a difficult escape that’s even more demanding for your starter car. If you get busted, you will lose your modifier and some cash, so play it smart and bank that rep before level three.
5/9 almost cash
If you made the mistake of buying a pile of cars as soon as they were unlocked, you might find yourself a little strapped for cash when you find a vehicle you need to keep winning races. Don’t fret.
You can sell any cars you have under the Showcase menu. Tab over to Showcase and select an empty slot. Choose the vehicle to add to that spot. From there, it is easy to swap the car with the one you’re driving or to sell it outright.
4/9 For looks only
You can modify more than just your engine and drivetrain. NFS: Heat lets you customize nearly every aspect of your cars. You can change your paint job, add stickers, change the color of your tire smoke, and a whole host of other cosmetic items.
You can also lower your car, adjust the camber of your wheels, add body kit pieces and spoilers — the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, these modifications do not affect car performance. So no matter how far your wheels are angled or how big your spoiler is, those corners won’t get any easier.
3/9 Most Obstacles Won’t Slow You
Although it seems counter-intuitive, don’t worry about barreling through fences, race barriers, or even telephone poles, as they won’t slow you down. The grass and dirt need to concern you if you haven’t set up for off-road racing, though. Leaving the pavement will slow you down dramatically and make your car very hard to control if you are tuned for on-road driving, which is where you spend most of your time in this game.
The only things that slow you down more than grass are hitting oncoming traffic or stationary buildings. Almost everything else will crumble before the might of your mighty sports car.
2/9 Get Them All
It would be best if you did not ignore the collectibles around the city. Not only is it a blast to find new ways to jump a car through Lt. Mercer’s face, but the rewards are also worth putting in the work.
Completing each type of collectible, billboards, street art, flamingos, speed traps, long jumps, and drift zones, rewards you with a new vehicle and a unique decal set. The cars are no clunkers either — high-end Nissans, a BMW, and even a McLaren and a Lamborghini. Keep an eye on the map for new collectibles!
1/9 Plan Your Escape Route
Before getting too involved in the nightlife of Palm City, you would be wise to plan for when you inevitably attract the wrong kind of attention. If the cops clock you during a race, be sure you know where to go to make a quick getaway once you cross the finish line. If you are playing offline, it’s not a big deal.
If you open the map, the game will pause, allowing you to take your time to plot your route. Make the most of your ability to corner, and don’t try to outrun them on a straight away until you can maintain 200mph, unless you want your night to end early.
NEXT: The Best Cars In Need For Speed: Heat