Fast paced, adrenaline pumping, hand numbing – Need For Speed Most Wanted like you’ve never seen it before! By giving the reins back to Criterion games, EA has risen to the challenge, bringing back respect to the Need For Speed franchise in a superb release.
This is a slick racing game rendition that takes the franchise back to its roots and does exactly what it does best with plenty of hot cars, high speeds and hectic cop pursuits.
Straight off the bat its obvious this is a visually amazing game with an impressive attention to detail: the glare can get in your eyes while driving around the sandbox world that is Fairhaven. You can definitely admire the care that has gone into its creation, even while zipping through tunnels and driving through dirt tracks at hundreds of kilometers per hour.
Players can enter the fray with minimum fuss, getting straight into the racing with immediate exploration of the town possible via wonderfully integrated menus.
You begin your journey to becoming the most wanted player in a Porche 911 Carrera S with a smooth tutorial to show you the ropes. You complete races in order to add mods to your cars, upgrading them in order to defeat the list of most wanted players above you. You earn Speed Points as a way of climbing the ranks and there are plenty of ways to accumulate these, from winning races and evading police in high pressure chases all the way through to getting your speed recorded by speed cameras.
There is a high focus on social integration within Most Wanted and it has being executed formidably. The Autolog 2 system tracks leaderboards for literally everything! You compete against your friends to make the top 10 most wanted players, you compete against their race times, their speed camera times, even billboard jumps!
There is nothing more enraging than seeing your friend’s Xbox Live gamer picture on a billboard as they top your distance. Then there is nothing more satisfying than spearheading your McLaren MP4-12C at high speed through the billboard, shattering it along with their high score.
The races themselves are thrilling as you weave in and out of Fairhaven’s traffic. Although they can get a little repetitive as they are recycled for a number of the different cars. The different mode types include; sprint, ambush, speed run and circuit.
Sprint involves racing against other AI from start to finish. Ambush gets the police on your tail as you must evade them within a certain time. A speed run involves maintaining an average speed above a predetermined tier by the time you reach the final check point. This can get hectic but fortunately there are no AI competitors to interfere and slow you down. Circuits are the standard lap based events against competing AI. An extra layer of stress is added as you are constantly reminded of your friends’ performances in the same event.
The choice of cars in Need For Speed Most Wanted is fairly standard and it is a little bit of a non achievement. Instead of unlocking cars, rather you come across them while driving around. It’s a different way of doing things from most racers but I’m not complaining about being able to immediately drive almost all of the 41 cars on offer. It is something however, that will most likely bug the most hard-core racers.
Pursuits by police can happen anytime in this open world if you are caught breaking the rules. As the time in pursuit lengthens, more reinforcements are called in and the roadblocks get harder to avoid with bigger police cars to dodge. Cops drop spike strips which also need to be avoided or else they will tear through your tyres creating a severe driving headache. It can be fun finding a “jack point” that allows you to quickly swap cars in the middle of a pursuit as your heat will be reduced significantly and they start to back off. The combination of all these elements are pure exhilaration.
There are so many multiplayer components to speak of that you could argue the single player side suffers greatly because of it. But racers are so much more fun against others, that this fault is not worth mulling. There are a number of co-op events that involve team work to reach a target, such as jump or drift distances. There are so many ways to earn points, even being first to a meet up point will earn you bragging rights as well as points.
The one noticeable irk that interrupted the flow of the entire game seemed to be the extended time, taken away from racing when you crashed. It would involve an often spectacular crash that was played out as a mini cut-scene, but this is never skippable.
Overall there has been so much time and craftsmanship put into this game that the end result is a beautifully polished racing game. It is over the top at times but it was never designed to be a realistic racer. There are hours of fun to be sunk into this game and if silly, multiplayer, racing games are your speciality Need For Speed Most Wanted is a no brainer.
Check out Emma’s preview of Need For Speed Most Wanted if you need to take a look at some more slick cars. If you’ve played some Need For Speed Most Wanted and want to let us know your thoughts, comment below or in our What we’ve been playing section.