Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PS3, PSV, PC, X360, Wii U
Release Date: 30 October
The last Need For Speed game made by Criterion was simply fantastic. It was an arcade racer which did everything right, providing a true sensation of speed, hours of fun and a new type of competition with your friends with its genius Autolog function (more of that later).
Following as a spiritual successor to 2008’s Burnout Paradise, Need For Speed: Most Wanted (not to be confused with the game of the same title back in 2005) just might be Criterion’s best arcade racer ever.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
After the big disappointment with Need For Speed: The Run, I was once again ready for a better NFS experience. While open world racing is not anything new in the world of video games, I was still rather skeptical of this game because the best racing experiences I’ve had have been with clear tracks and all that.
Find a car and you can drive it
So you arrive in Fairhaven, a city that is home to the most infamous street racers in the world, and you’re striving to be the top contender by completing street races, evading cops, leaving lots of wrecked cars and destruction behind. I was pleased to notice that Criterion focused completely on what the game is about rather than implementing an awkward plot that simply has to be there.
You start by going over a very short tutorial: You’ll get control of your car and drive to a Jack Spot, where you will add your vehicle to your collection of cars. That is also the way how you gain new cars in the game. Find a car and you can drive it, simple as that. After that, you’re ready to enjoy Fairhaven at its best.
Each car has five races open to it with various difficulty levels, and they can be accessed through Easy Drive, the user friendly navigation menu that shows your current cars available races, lets you add modifications – won from races – to your car etc. Simple navigation lets you enjoy the actual game more.
You can access Easy Drive with the d-pad without pausing the game. Navigation – works well. It is simplistic – and does not hinder the open-world feeling by adding clunky menus which pause the game and require your time almost as much as the actual racing. In addition to easy navigation, the settings can be altered to match your style of gameplay and I always find it very appealing to use my own music in a racing game.
I played Need for Speed: Most Wanted with both: a regular controller and PlayStation Move controller + Move Racing Wheel and I have to say that adrenaline junkies like me really enjoy the racing controller, which does an excellent job together with the game by adding even more sensation of speed and danger to the game. If you’ve been thinking of getting the controller and love Need For Speed titles, there is your justification for the purchase.
This is why I love each console generations “last stage”.
Controls aside, the first thing you’ll notice once you start driving are the stunning visuals. Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks gorgeous and even the smallest details add to the experience. The sun will dazzle you when you get out of tunnels as will the amount of detail that has been put to the road and of course, the rides themselves. This is why I love each console generations “last stage”. The developers really know how to get the most out of the machine.
While it is good when a game looks good, a beautiful game would be nothing without content to keep you going. So once you’ve enjoyed enough scenery and used your thumb to choose your cars available race, the mini-map displays shortest route where the race starts.
Expect take-downs, unrealistic yet insanely fun drifts, adrenaline, crashes and frustrating times
Regular races are checkpoint to checkpoint races indicated by white poles which really help you to determine where you are going in the chaos of Fairhaven. These races take place both on and off-road, and you’ll be enjoying the presence of the Police as well. Expect take-downs, unrealistic yet insanely fun drifts, adrenaline, crashes and frustrating times when your precious speed target slips out of your hands.
Regular circuit race isn’t the only one though. You will also try to lose cops as fast as possible, races that target overall average-speed target etc. The nature of the race pretty much determines how careful you should be.
Maybe the most fun type of race in Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the one where you take on the Most Wanted racers that are both difficult and let you win their car once you’ve beaten them -. In these races you can expect some heat from the police (roadblocks etc), skilled AI and interesting tracks.
How about the multiplayer?
Need For Speed: Most Wanted offers a fairly good multiplayer – but is nothing groundbreaking. There are normal races, team races and challenges that vary according to the location on the map, and you’ll be focusing on challenges such as who gets the most air time off a certain jump.
In general, multiplayer works well, though I was a bit surprised once I learned that Criterion left out the police in the multiplayer. After all, it is one of the best aspects that makes the single-player experience so fun in the first place.
In addition, the Autolog from Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit returns. Autolog, appearing for the first time in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010), was a prime example of how social interaction should be implemented to racing games. It fired up the competition and made me grab the controller time after time.
a prime example of how social interaction should be implemented to racing games.
The current Autolog marks the second generation of the stat-tracking fun. Other players will see your most newsworthy scores, speeds and times even in the billboards at Fairhaven. Beating your friends score will also earn you speed points that’ll grow your rank and open up new Most Wanted races. I always enjoy when I’ve had a break from the game and the first thing I’ll learn is that those few friends of mine have beaten my time -only by a second or so – in track X and Y.
If you’re looking for a good arcade-racing title or a good racing title in general, this is your pick. Criterion’s Need For Speed: Most Wanted does everything right providing true sensation of speed, hours of that three-letter word: FUN and competition with your friends with its genius Autolog function. If your friends also have this game, even better.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted Score: 9.0
Why so high? Arcade-racer done right. Fired up competition and true sensation of speed in very competitive environment.
Why so low? Long loading times and occasionally connecting to the Autolog servers takes forever. Lack of police in the multiplayer