Need for Speed: Payback Preview – Living a Quarter Mile at a Time

Need for Speed: Payback Preview - Living a Quarter Mile at a Time

The Need for Speed series has evolved over the years. As car culture changes, so too does Need for Speed, adapting to the times and ensuring what they have on offer fits the needs and wants of the audience. While not everything works, when the team behind Need for Speed are on point, it is normally a game I will play all year. Something about the driving model and level of “pick up and play” fun hits a sweet spot that few rival titles can compare to. This year, Ghost Games are stepping it up, taking things from car culture and the bombastic concepts seen in movies like The Fast and the Furious and combining them in a way that works better than you would think.

Need for Speed: Payback Preview - Living a Quarter Mile at a Time 1
Need For Speed: Payback – gameplay image credit: EA

First and foremost, Need for Speed: Payback is an arcade racer. There have been titles in the franchise such as Need for Speed: Shift that changed the formula, but those are outliers. The core series has always been about letting the player jump into some of the most powerful, most stunning cars in the world and simply enjoy driving them. In reality, many of the cars on offer in the game would be beasts to control, giving you far more power than any normal person would need, yet Need for Speed: Payback makes everything accessible. It is a game that takes that power and presents it in a way that anyone can pick up and enjoy.

I am happy to say this year’s installment is no different.

After picking up the controller and jumping right into one of the story missions it was obvious that the team put a lot of care into ensuring the driving model worked as you would want. Understanding how to control even the most powerful car was easy, even if it was hard to master. The driving model worked as expected, making for a fun—if simplistic—experience. The real showcase on display with this latest build of the game was the story players will experience when they pick up Need for Speed: Payback.  This is a story clearly inspired by The Fast and the Furious film series. You will need to work with your crew to take on missions that range from taking down a truck with precious cargo to escaping with one of the most powerful cars in the world—it is a game filled with Hollywood Blockbuster moments.

Need for Speed: Payback Preview - Living a Quarter Mile at a Time 3
Need For Speed: Payback – image credit: EA

As you take on a mission, you will hear the typical chatter between yourself and your crew with a few cutscenes thrown in for good measure. The dialogue is ridiculous, the story is ludicrous, and it all works perfectly. From the section I played, Ghost Games has somehow managed to capture the secret sauce that makes driving and action work in Hollywood—the only difference here is that you are part of the action. From cars bursting into flames as you drive past to taking down cops as you make a getaway, it is all present and all fun.

Now, if you are a purist that wants to play a realistic driving game for the thrill of the car, this is not the game for you. While all the cars present are real world offerings, with models from companies like BMW, Nissan, Mercedes, Porsche, etc., they will not have real world driving models. At its core Payback is an arcade racing experience and it wears this fact on its sleeve.

As you drive around the landscape of Fortune Valley you will witness canyons, cities, deserts, and mountains, all realistically rendered in a way that draws you into the world of Need for Speed: Payback. This is a game that draws you in, and while you may only be able to experience the landscape from the driver’s seat as you zip past, the attention to detail goes a long way in building a living, breathing world

The Frostbyte engine shines in all its glory with Need for Speed: Payback. The weather effects, car detail, and overall look of the game is nothing short of stunning. The realistic portrayal of the world and cars cannot be overstated. The team at Ghost Games has taken real care to build something that stands as the pinnacle of driving games. It is a game that will work well to show off your new 4K screen, or even to your friends when they ask to see the power of a PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X.

Need for Speed: Payback Preview - Living a Quarter Mile at a Time
Need For Speed: Payback – image credit: EA

It is hard to say it Ghost Games can manage to keep the action, fun, and interest that has been on display so far from Need for Speed: Payback, but if they do, it will be a real winner this Fall. The Need for Speed franchise may have fallen on hard times in past years, but if what I have seen of Payback is any indication, those years are behind them.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil Brown’s interview with Paul Waugh and Aaron Paul about the Need For Speed movie, or why Brendan Frye thinks you need to play Need For Speed! 

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Gamescom 2017 Breaks Its Own Records

Gamescom 2017 Breaks Its Own Records

With the dust settled from Gamescom 2017, it has just been announced that this year’s show has reached record-breaking attendance, surpassing 350,000 visitors.

It seems as though the renowned games trade show just keeps on growing. Gamescom 2017 broke new records with 919 companies from 54 countries in attendance. In addition to the aforementioned record breaking 350,000 attendees, there were 30,700 trade visitors, all from 106 countries.

Gamescom 2017 ran from the 22nd to August 26. Looking at the metrics from this year’s show reveals a 5% increase in the number of companies in attendance. Furthermore, it is estimated that the international games trade show in its last day, broke the “100 country mark”, which further highlights the importance and grandeur of this year’s show.

Compared to the 2016 trades show, Gamescom 2017 saw an increase overall in numbers, confirming its position as Europe’s number one business platform. The foreign share of exhibitors was 72%, cementing the notion of it being a truly diverse and international event.

In terms of space, the show floor expanded 4% from last years event. With Gamescom 2017 taking up a gross area of 201,000 square meters, it was the perfect venue for an eclectic range of exhibitors. Everything from consoles to virtual reality and everything in between was present on the show floor.

Aside from the stellar lineup of exhibitors, Gamescom 2017 ran in part thanks to the help of the BMVI (Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure), who specialized in the social media stage during the duration of Gamescom. Interestingly enough, Canada had the privilege of being the partner country of Gamescom 2017.

Gerald Böse, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Koelnmesse GmbH, organizer of Gamescom, had this to say:

“We are excited. Gamescom 2017 set new standards and a new visitor record. More than ever, it proved its exceptional, worldwide importance as a 360-degree experience event and a leading communications platform for current and future themes of the computer and video games industry. We are very satisfied and are pleased that we were able to offer trade and private visitors the  fascination of digital entertainment here in Cologne in this extraordinary form.”

Gamescom is still a relatively young trades show, with the inaugural show being less than 10 years old, which was held on August 19, 2009. Since then, Gamescom has exploded in popularity and helped boost the European games sector into the forefront.


Gamescom 2017 Award Show Wrap Up

Gamescom 2017 Award Show Wrap Up

Gamescom 2017 just wrapped up their yearly awards show. Over 100 great upcoming titles were vetted, but alas only a handful of those ultimately made it out on top as winners.

Listed below are the winners in each individual category of Gamescom 2017’s Award Show:

Best of Gamescom Award:

Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo — The big winner of the coveted Best of Gamescom award went to none other than Nintendo’s upcoming Super Mario Odyssey. The highly anticipated Switch title also won in the Best Action Game and Most Wanted Consumer Award category.

Best Add On/DLC Award:

Battlefield 1: In the Name of the Tsar, Electronic Arts

Best Booth Award:

Electronic Arts Gamescom Booth 2017, Electronic Arts

Best Console Games Category:

Sony PlayStation 4:

Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft

Microsoft Xbox One:

Middle-Earth: Shadow of WarWarner Bros.

Nintendo Switch:

Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo

Best PC Game:

Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Koch Media

Best Mobile Game:

Metroid: Samus Returns, Nintendo

Best In Genre Awards:

Best Role Playing Game:

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Bandai Namco

Best Racing Game:

Forza Motorsport 7, Microsoft

Best Action Game:

Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo

Best Simulation Game:

Project CARS 2, Bandai Namco

Best Sports Game:

PES 2018, Konami

Best Family Game:

Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo

Best Strategy Game:

Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Ubisoft

Best Puzzle / Skill Game:

God’s Trigger, Techland

Best Social / Online Game:

Destiny 2, Activision Blizzard

Best Casual Game:

Hidden Agenda, Sony

Best Multiplayer Game:

Destiny 2, Activision Blizzard

Best Virtual Reality Game:

Fallout 4 VR, ZeniMax

Best Hardware:

Xbox One X, Microsoft

Consumer Awards Category:

Gamescom Most Wanted Title:

Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo

Best Indie Award:

Double Kick Heroes, Headbang Club

Overall, the Gamescom 2017 Awards had some interesting and more importantly well deserved winners. Nintendo really took it home with the game of the show: Super Mario Odyssey. The beloved games company also won in multiple categories with Samus Returns and Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle (with the aide of Ubisoft).

EA Gamescom 2017 Showcase Liveblog

EA Gamescom 2017 Showcase Liveblog

EA has quickly becoming the conference to watch at E3 and at Gamescom. With a slew of games slated to come out this fall and into 2018, it is exciting to see what EA Games will do next. Starting at 18:30, EA will unleash the latest slate of announcements, and CGMagazine is on site to bring you the latest from the liveblog along with annalysis on what this means for the lineup, and EA as a publisher.

Watch live video from EA on

Overwatch Character Zarya Joins Heroes of the Storm Roster

Overwatch Character Zarya Joins Heroes of the Storm Roster

Blizzard has announced at Gamescom 2016 that Overwatch character Zarya will be joining their online battle arena game, Heroes of the Storm. This will be the second Overwatch character to join the roster, after Tracer joined near the launch of Overwatch

Read moreOverwatch Character Zarya Joins Heroes of the Storm Roster

Pixels & Ink #166 – Fear The Walking Dead

Pixels & Ink #166 - Fear The Walking Dead

With Melanie out of the office, the rest of the Pixels and Ink cast of characters dive into a long podcast. Exploring all the news from Gamescom, the new World of Warcraft expansion, The allegations against Konami and all the news from the International, it is a very packed cast. It does not stop there though, they also dive into The Fantastic Four and the new AMC Show, Fear The Walking Dead.

Gamescom 2014: Videogames Are Going to Be All Right

Gamescom 2014: Videogames Are Going to Be All Right

I wasn’t sure what to expect from last week’s Gamescom 2014, an event that saw the games industry congregating in Cologne, Germany to either report on or demonstrate upcoming titles. While Gamescom may not have the clout of something like E3, it’s still a massive show that provides a glimpse at the future of mainstream games. If this year was any indication of what we can expect, it seems like videogames are healthier than ever before.

The most exciting aspect of Gamescom 2014 was the sheer variety of projects announced during the event’s many press conferences. The interesting games we’ve already heard about continue to look promising (Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Quantum Break, and The Order: 1886 in particular), but it was the number of previously unknown titles that makes me most optimistic about the future. Confirmation of Activision’s plan to resurrect beloved adventure game studio Sierra as an imprint of the former company may not lead to much of anything, but it’s still a sign that the most risk-averse publishers are willing to try new things. I mean, the business that bases itself almost entirely around annualized Call of Duty releases is now attempting to bring out a new King’s Quest entry, developed by the relatively unproven The Odd Gentlemen. Similarly, Dontnod Entertainment, the developer of the flawed but ambitious Remember Me, are launching an episodic game called Life is Strange that apparently takes cues from Telltale’s The Walking Dead and The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home. That this is being bankrolled by Square Enix is a sign that even the biggest publishers have realized the value of fostering creativity in place of endless sequels and high-profile series reboots.

Shadow Realms

Life is Strange wasn’t the only wholly original game to be debuted at Gamescom either. Bioware’s Shadow Realms—which looks to be taking at least a few notes from Mass Effect 3’s surprisingly fun co-op multiplayer mode—dispenses with the developer’s far-flung science fiction and pseudo-medieval fantasy settings for a strange version of our real world. Better yet, this universe is a completely new one. Ninja Theory’s Hellblade (which is a new tie with Bloodborne for my personal Most Hilarious Game Name award) may be strangely branded as an “independent” production despite major publisher backing, but the developer’s recent work on Enslaved and DmC make me excited for the release of another original title from a talented studio. Lastly, Michel Ancel/Wild Sheep Studios’ WiLD, a game that we were only given a brief look at through some (admittedly lovely) pre-rendered footage. The imaginative scope of world displayed—giant underwater statues and enormous people living inside skyscraper-sized tree trunks— and the promise that players will be able to take control of the game’s population of skeletons, wolves, and other creatures makes for an exciting—and novel—pitch.

“The most exciting aspect of Gamescom 2014 was the sheer variety of projects announced during the event’s many press conferences”
Though not every reveal was original, it was also heartening to see Sony and Microsoft devote a good bit of their conferences to less orthodox games. Sony’s showcase of weird, non-traditional titles (like the Soviet-style dystopia of The Tomorrow Children and Ico-inspired Rime) and Microsoft’s ID @ Xbox program (with strategy-game Massive Chalice and, uh, goat simulator Goat Simulator) were both welcome signs of a continued commitment to experimentation.

And, despite it being the reveal of a series reboot—something that usually doesn’t illicit a ton of excitement—probably my favourite single thing to come out of Gamescom 2014 was the sneaky announcement of Silent Hills. The game—which will be overseen by Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima—wasn’t revealed with the typical fanfare of a major press conference debut. Instead, Sony screened a brief clip from a horror game titled P.T. and urged viewers to download its “interactive teaser” from the PlayStation Store. Committed players quickly discovered that P.T. was something other than a genuinely terrifying release from a newly formed developer. The final moments of the demo revealed the names of the game’s creative collaborators and the Silent Hills title card. It was a wonderful surprise, and something that was made more special by the fact that videogames—especially big budget reboots—are more typically announced through trailers and carefully controlled gameplay demonstrations.

Silent Hills’ bizarre reveal summed up the tone of the latest Gamescom as a whole. In place of the calculated marketing approach that has defined the games industry in recent years, there was surprise and creativity. For such a large, corporate-dominated event, the entire affair felt remarkably vital. While this year’s E3 mostly came across as a confirmation of the industry status quo, Gamescom 2014 demonstrated the health of the medium in a different way: confirming that new and strange ideas still have a place in mainstream videogames.