Finally the creation of Criterion Games and EA Games, comes the re-invention and revolution of the streets of Need For Speed Most Wanted. These guys state that Most Wanted is “The most socially connected racing game ever”, and they weren’t kidding. The game’s social aspect is wonderfully crafted to be merged into the fantastic graphics and gameplay, without being an intrusion to your experience. So watch out as most people will be bragging about their trophies and achievements really soon! Hehe.
I just said that this game is a revolution since it brings a fresh new start to the franchise, with Criterion games making it one of the best Need for Speed game in the whole series; and this moment being the comeback of the Need for Speed series. The game is fantastic and it’s a great excitement from the first race to the last, with the graphics, effects and sounds that will make your experience one to remember.
There is not particular story for a racing game, but Need for Speed Most Wanted takes us in the city of Fairhaven which is home to the finest drivers and exotic modified car owners. The owners of these cars are race fanatics which call themselves the Most Wanted who race and own the streets of Fairhaven. You must make your way through the street races gaining enough points to race the next Most Wanted in the list until you’re number one. The city of Fairhaven is simple sublime in the graphic and weather effect detail. You will instantly notice the depth of detail that Criterion Games have gone through and how they made the game with personal interest. The city is well balanced with off-road, mountain, urban, city and industrial areas. The weather effect is fantastic with night and day racing, sunny or rainy weather, with quality lighting effects on the tarmac. The tarmac is crafted with quality and all the weather effects reflect well on it. The sunlight might blind you for a second while exiting a tunnel and the effects on the car for example when you run into a puddle, it will get dirty. These are a few touches that already make the game play great, but there’s even more as the quality of the music selection along with fantastic sound effects of the engine and screaming tires makes the game even better. The result of this combination makes a fantastic racing game.
The game mechanics and physics are a very good improvement to the series while the car is stuck to the ground without that effect of ice like previous game. The handling of the cars is great and the only thing that might have made it better is the in-car view when driving. Mind you, it works well but it seems that the view is too low and if it would have been a little bit higher, it would have improved it. The third-person view perspective is great and the effects on the cars are great especially the damage effect. Although there is no mechanical damage to the car, there is a good detail in ecstatic damage of the cars.
The game-play is fairly easy. You are presented this open world where you can drive through the city, finding secret gates, smashing through billboards, looking for Most Wanted cars and finding races. The races are pinned on the map and you would just need to hold the L1 and R1 to spin the wheels and this will put you in the race.
The custom license plate is a very cool and awaited feature in the Need for Speed series. Ah, loved the feature comeback as it was like forgotten since way back in the franchise. Apart from being a nice touch to the game it give you opportunity to put something of yourself along with the car. Another thing which has really caught my eye was the billboards showing wanted signed of you. At first the billboards will show adverts of either EA Games or something else but as soon as you destroy them, they will change into wanted billboards showing your nickname and photos. The photo is shown with either your PS3 or XBOX360 avatar or if you want you can upload a photo through Autolog. That is kinky.
The Easy Drive system which is basically the menu system for the game is fantastic. With the simple touch of the cursor buttons on your gamepad, you will easily access your garage, upgrades, races and the Most Wanted cars you are eligible to race. You can set destinations, restart a race, jump into a car from your garage and modify your car. All this is done on-the-fly with instant effect, thou I wouldn’t recommend as it is physically impossible to change any option while driving with 100Km/h on a blind turn. From time to time you will get the Autolog recommendations for you Most Wanted career like what you should do to improve it. Being either a milestone that you might reach being driving on the opposite side with a particular car or, it might also suggest that you make some races. The game offers no intrusion or loading sessions while driving along the city (i.e. not during a race) which makes the experience even better.
You can also go online and access the Autolog from your PC, tablet, Mac or whatever and check your status online instantly. You can check the recommendations, collectibles and even the available races. You can also check your single player campaign and see your car milestones, driving milestones and the overall progress of your game. You will also be able to access the same information for the multiplayer mode which can be used to brag about your success with friends. Another feature of the Autolog which I have liked was the fact that you will be able to upload a photo of yourself which will be used on Speedwalls, Most Wanted list and the Billboards with your wanted information all around Fairhaven city. The online experience of the game is enough to give two thumbs up for the game.
The AI of the opponents is quite fair and reachable during racing but, if you crash the opponents from behind you get a chance of taking them down. If you think you can hit them from the side to make them spin out, thing again as you are in for a header on concrete wall. You can give them a huge bump on the side and they won’t even move! That’s the only unfair thing about the AI during normal racing.
Also when racing against a Most Wanted AI car, you can overtake them all you want as magically, they will overtake you back as soon as they recovery from a takedown, which is a bit unfair and physically impossible. This has happened many times and after some time, I seem to have found a trick to winning the Most Wanted car. What you have to do is to stick with the Most Wanted car the whole race, and at the very end, take down the opponent. This will secure your victory.
We talked about game-play and graphics, but what about the cars? In Need for Speed Most Wanted, there are 41 cars which are accessible immediately as you start playing the game, the only thing is that they are hidden or you just have to find them. The cars are scattered all over Fairhaven and when you drive near them you will have access to them. Once you find a car it’s shown with a steering wheel icon on top of it and you can jump straight onto it by stopping near it and pressing the triangle button. On the other hand, for already found cars you can just use the Easy Drive system and after looking you car in the menu you can either have a direction mapped to it on the map or just instantly jump to it. As said, you can either find the cars just parked on the side, in back alleys or hidden on rooftops. There is no level or amount of points to get the cars, all you have to do is dedicate some time and drive along the city to find them.
So are there any modifications for the cars? Well, whenever you find a car or win a car by shutting down a Most Wanted car, you will have the basic car equipped with the stock components i.e. basic tyres and chassis, no nitro and a normal transmission. Thou there is no change to the appearance of the car, the engine and performance are modified. To upgrade you car’s performance by upgrading chassis, gearbox, tyres or nitro you will have to either accumulate Speed Points which are achieved from running through billboards, evading police or setting off speed cameras; or the fastest way to gather Speed Points is by racing the car’s specific races. Of course speed points are also achieved by running against a Most Wanted driver. Each car in your garage will have five races which can upgrade your car to the max if all are won. They are split between easy to hard and can be either a circuit race, speed runs, ambush (which is basically how fast can you evade the law) or speed runs.
The multiplayer is basically the same thing as the single player but in a private version of Fairhaven. You will have a meeting place pinned on the map and all the drivers must get there. You will either have a race, longest drifts, biggest jumps and other challenges. On the other hand, you can just slam into your friends and watch them swearing loudly back at you. Also you can pin the areas by marking the top speed after being caught by a camera, or make your friends watch the billboards that you smashing, showing off your picture. The multiplayer are is quite fun and it works like a charm.
The game gives an exciting adrenaline rush with a mix of fantastic graphics and effects, sounds and dramatic effect. The game is not a piece of cake and normal racing won’t get you far as you must risk all you got and driving insanely through curves and slamming your opponents to the wall is key to success. This is the best game in the Need for Speed series, and if you’re into a breath taking experience, Need for Speed Most Wanted is the game for you.