Need for Speed Heat’s concept, best guess, came from an older executive who got word that EA’s primary demographic hates cops. At that moment, Need for Speed Heat’s villain became Lt. Frank Mercer, equivalent to Spider-Man’s J. Jonah Jameson in hard personality and ego. Mercer’s face is plastered on billboards across Need for Speed Heat’s Miami replica.
Regarding the social anxieties around cops, missed in the generational translation were the reasons. Racism, violence, bigoted targeting; that’s not so here. Instead, Need For Speed Heat casts advantaged 20-somethings – the demographic – as protagonists. The mistake is in making them dangerous, over privileged schmucks who put lives in danger while on the hunt for ego boosting rep.
After purchasing a ’65 Mustang, the chosen character whines, “I could use some bank,” oblivious to their entitlement. Smash stuff, wreck stuff, blow cash on car parts to break more stuff; that’s all these kids do. Where something like Forza Horizon carefully ridicules the culture, EA’s Need for Speed takes the fantasy to an unlikable extreme, and with so few variations in formula (open world, rainy nights, lots of neon, arcade flourishes) Heat is indistinguishable from recent predecessors.
For clarity, Need for Speed Heat’s cops suck too. One boasts to his dispatcher during a high-speed chase to keep his paycheck because he’ll do this for free. Later, a plot twist turns the force into hypocrites. It’s difficult to root for anyone here, other than to hope they all get some common sense in their downtime.