For me NFS Heat is a long awaited return to glory. Im affording it extra respect as it's clear that Ghost Games have actually listened to the community.
What they've done is taken everything they did right with the previous few titles while completely erasing everything that people hated, and the result is imo the best NFS game since pre 2010. Most people are probably familiar with the formula, so I'll summarise.
No micro transactions, no pointless online only restrictions, no lottery upgrade system, no restrictions on visual car mods, no invasive story forcing you down certain disciplines and no soggy heavy driving model...... Instead we have a sensible and progressive array of performance mods and proper engine swap options, sharper and more responsive handling, an excellent map of decent size designed with driving pleasure in mind, free roam police that provide a great challenge and tangible sense of tension when racing at night, wide array of unrestricted and highly customization visual parts and paint options and the complete freedom to play however you want. Want to focus on the story and immerse yourself, empathizing with the cast and RP'ing as a proper street racer? do it. Want to completely ignore the story and just enjoy exploring and building up your rep and car(s)? do it. Want to drive in peace, take your time searching for collectibles and playing races/challenges uninterrupted? just play mainly in daytime mode. Want to be pushed into precise calculated driving with a constant mountain of pressure as numerous and actually competent cops hunt you down every second? play mainly night time mode. The new engine swap system also means you have complete freedom over car choice as well. Should you fall in love with your starter car or another early game vehicle you can quite happily choose from a range of different capacity V6's , inline 6's , V8's etc. etc. and turn your low end tuner car into a supercar slayer.
Sound: Excellent! Not only do the cars sound good, but for the first time we've got multiple options to tune and customise the exhaust note: res-non res, crackle and burble on overrun or not, aggressive - subtle overall note etc. Also imo the first NFS game in ages with an appropriate soundtrack, if you're a fan of the first few Fast and Furious movies then believe me you're in for a treat.
Graphics: Basically what we expect from most games at this stage of the current gens cycle. Overall landscape visuals look good, pretty decent draw distance and AA. The party piece is the player cars, great texture quality and excellent light reflection. Nothing we havent seen before, but easily on par with any other recent triple A release.
Dont get me wrong , its not perfect. Cutscenes seem to frequently drop frames for some reason and the difficulty balance in early game seems a bit off, with early races being far too easy (Even on Hard difficulty) while night time police chases (which are inevitable) are punishingly difficult, however towards the end of my first 8 hour session both seemed to level out as my car hit the 300bhp mark so I'm not too worried. I had one hard crash in first 8 hours while browsing the player garage but thankfully no other glitches and no sign of any framerate issues during gameplay.
Overall if you're after a free roam street racing game then this is the best entry since Midnight Club LA and NFS Carbon. Easy 8.5/10 , well done Ghost Games! :)