For those who might get confused by the name, this review is of the latest installment in EA’s long running racing franchise and it is definitely not of the 2005’s hit game, which was also named identically. After almost seven years the sub title “Most Wanted” is returning to the Need for Speed series, which for the fans of original is nothing short of grand news. But there is a minor thing, while the game shares the same name; it is NOTHING like the old Most Wanted. Continue reading as we explain what, why and how EA changed the game, and whether it is for the better or for the worse.
As you might already know the original Need for Speed Most Wanted was developed by Black Box. EA recently divorced the developers from under their wing and now have probably given the reigns of the Need for Speed franchise to Criterion. Criterion, the creators of hugely popular and loved Burnout series have extensive experience in the racing genre. The last game they developed was also from Need for Speed series (Need for Speed: Hot pursuit) hence they already have one Need for Speed title under their belt.
The departure of Black Box is gloomy but recently the developers were failing to deliver the core experience of NFS series to the fans. They were constantly experimenting with the franchise rather than sticking to what the fans loved. And the fans certainly loved the 2005’s original Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Criterion on the other hand is well known to deliver fun and addictive gameplay coupled with amazing replay values. I for one am still playing Burnout revenge on my Xbox360. Criterion has most certainly proved its worth both in open world games (Burnout Paradise) and in beautiful arcade racers. EA in my opinion has chosen the best developer to make Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
One thing is for sure, Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks amazing. Criterion has done an amazing job with the graphical presentation of the game. The first game was at its time impressive but it’s been almost 7 years, and Criterion has made sure the generation jump and graphical advancement is boldly apparent. The high res road textures, the stunning car models and the beautiful cities all exhibit excellence. Especially the car models because they were expertly detailed and closely designed to resemble their real world counterparts. There were some amazing visuals at display during the demo which I saw. Even racing at breakneck speed and dodging oncoming traffic were noticed of how stunning the sunset looks. Although the pace of the game is such that you won’t be able to spend much time in one place but Criterion’s designers have made sure that any place you’ll visit will look amazing.
Whether you are attempting a long jump on top of a tall building or are driving off road to shake the cops off your tail, the game will run at a smooth frame rate and deliver excellent graphical experience.
There won’t be any story in NFS: Most Wanted. No story, no revenge, no last race. No bad guy to defeat and no chicks to impress and you won’t find “Mia” telling you to drive safely. Some might be a bit disappointed about learning and indeed I feel the same way to some extent. But we must also remember who the developers are; Criterion has never in their colorful history implemented a story in any racing game they’ve made. Criterion decided to have its stories created by the players itself – their own adventures. And I quite frankly believed them, as I have seen that happening exactly like in Burnout Paradise. They also said that the continuous unlocking of parts and eventually better cars is a powerful hook, one that will keep the players totally investing into the game. Also, the game wants you to become “Most Wanted” among your friends, and there is that too.
As much as I hate to say the gameplay which NFS: Most Wanted follows is more close to Burnout rather than the original one which hatched it. I agree that the series needed a shook up but taking out the iconic mechanics which made the first one so popular is tactical insanity.
Boosting like crazy [✔], ramming cars for takedowns [✔] and getting your own care totaled [✔]. Those “checks” are all signatures of Burnout not NFS: Most Wanted. But this is what we are getting and we should be contented with it.
You will take part in numerous races categorized by different modes. There will be sprints and circuits in which a new checkpoint system will be implemented. You can also takeout the rival racers in particular Burnout fashion, you can see visible damage on your car which will affect your gameplay until you eventually get wracked. But that won’t hinder the fun as you will respawn almost instantly to continue the heat.
And just like the first Need for Speed Most Wanted there will be cops to stop you from all the fun you are having. They will deploy different tactics according to your heat levels. There will be 6 heat levels this time; each level increase will bring more aggressive tactics from the law enforcement agencies and you will have a more difficult time evading them. I also noticed in the brief demo that the mini map was showing red triangles, and I am sure they are trigger-able obstructions which will disable your pursuers. Criterion also said that the cooldown spots will make a return. And another interesting way to lose the cops is to “jump” vehicles; there are certain hidden spots in the city which will house certain vehicles. When you reach them you can jack them and drive away instantly.
Criterion is citing that the driving mechanics of Need for Speed: Most Wanted are neither arcade nor are they anywhere near simulation. They are saying that it is a happy amalgam of both; you will still be able to drift around corners but don’t expect them to be as insane as Burnout. The vehicles also carry some weight to them and that will actually play a crucial role in the game.
The heavier the car, the harder it will be to control around corners, but it will have amazing top speeds. And the lighter cars will have the acceleration advantage but they will be easy prey to takedown. Criterion insists that every car will have its own “feel” and won’t handle the same on road and off road surfaces. And by the looks of the game we will need all the traction we can get to evade the policemen.
Cars and Customization
Criterion is boasting that this iteration of Need for Speed: Most Wanted will have the most varied car selection. From heavy duty ford trucks to light weight cars, all will be available to the players. The heavy cars will provide you with sturdiness and raw power but will be out-maneuvered by the light ones. And the light weight ones possess the agility to dodge the traffic and aggressive opponents, yet they won’t be able to sustain much abuse by the more competent racers and might succumb to excessive damage easily.
Half of the charm of NFS: Most Wanted was the customization process. Criterion is saying that it would return but it won’t be like the old times. Sure you will be getting “Speed Points” after winning races or even beating the challenge your friends set. But the performance upgrades will unlock by completing certain conditions and races. These upgrades will make your favorite car able to compete with more advanced models. The iconic BMW M3 is said to be in the game and we might stick with that one, Criterion officials confirmed that we will be able to hold on to that beautiful powerhouse as long as we continue to apply upgrades to it.
That being said, we know there will be body work and paint jobs available in terms of visual customization. The body work can also be categorized as a performance part as it might be able to make your car weightier or lighter. But I are not 100% sure that rims, spoilers and hoods and exhausts are going to make the cut. If they do this game will become literally the most wanted on our radars, but the exclusion of them might break some hearts.
Single and Multiplayer
You will be able to free roam the streets of Fairview City in whatever way you want in, whichever direction you like. While in single player free roam mode, you will be able to discover shortcuts, smash billboards and attempt long jumps. Doing all this stuff will also net you Speed Points which will make you more “notorious” among your friends. The Autolog 2.0 will make sure that everything you do while in game is getting properly recorded and every record you break or attempt to break will be shown to your friends.
So if you break the road speed record or even make the longest jump, you won’t have to worry about phoning your friend and bragging about it (but it is still recommended for maximum pleasure), the seamless and intuitive Autolog 2.0 will make sure the next time your friend logs in, he instantly knows. This makes the game competitive on a whole level, adds another layer of gameplay and replay value.
As for multiplayer you can go head to head with your friends in numerous events, simple ones like sprint and circuit races are there but team race is also included. The multiplayer is hectic and more fun than the regular races, also beating your friends is more rewarding than winning from AI.
The game is shaping to be a solid and entertaining title even if you hate the fact that it is not the old Need for Speed: Most Wanted. This remix is well worth your time. Just don’t brood on the fact that it is a burnout game just named NFS and you will certainly enjoy the game. If you are a fan of customizing your ride to the extreme, you should probably wait for the confirmation to come. Other than that if you are a racing fan or just looking to have awesome fun with you buddies online, this game is a must. I’ll be impatiently waiting for its release on November the 4th and I’m sure, so will you.
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Tested in PS3. Final Score: 10/10