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Review: Need for Speed: Most WantedNeed for Speed Criterion Games EA PS3 360 PC Vita
Developer: Criterion Games
Platform: 360, PC, PS3, Vita, Wii U
Release Date: October 30, 2012 (Wii U - 2013)
ESRB: E 10+
This review is based on the 360 version of the game.
If you feel like you’ve heard the name Need for Speed: Most Wanted before, then you’d be right. A game with the same name arrived in 2005 developed by EA Black Box. This time around, Criterion Games has taken control of Need for Speed and pumped out a new game with a familiar name. Before this, they crafted the cult hit Burnout Paradise. In creating their new game, Most Wanted takes a lot from from that earlier title. Once you’ve got all this straight, it's time to ask yourself whether all this results in a good game or not.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a game which has a lot of polish and fun gameplay, but lacks smart design in other areas. Let’s start for where the game shines. Much praise comes to the game from its gorgeous visuals, fast cars, and entertaining multiplayer. Visually, you would be hard-pressed to find games that look better for the genre. Unfortunately, thanks to how quickly some cars go, you won’t really be able to admire the city up close.
Car-wise, everything is nicely done. There are 41 cars available in the game and they are pulled from different manufacturers and times. Some cars are slow and not very desirable, but other cars are fantastic. As you play the game, you rank up in challenges which will get you closer to being pitted against a “Most Wanted” car. Once in these one-on-one races, you have your shot at stealing their ride for your use at any time.
That’s not to say everything about the cars are great. Sure, they’re speedy and marvelous to look at and drive, but getting to use them can be a bit of a burden. The issues come in when you realize what is tied to each specific car, as well as how you gain access to them. In a semi-smart and semi-annoying move, various races and challenges are tied to specific cars. That is, if you are in one car you will have access to five different challenges and only those five. Hop into another car and other challenges will be available to you. It makes sense that you don’t want a junky car racing against speed demons, but it is also annoying.
Some annoyance comes in the fact that each car has the same amount of races, each similarly divided into difficulty. So if you want to take out all the “easy” challenges, you’re going to be forced to find lots of cars and do their specific low difficulty challenges. Then there is the fact that even if you love a car, you won’t be able to play with it continuously. Instead, you must trek around and get new vehicles.
Vehicles themselves are not unlocked with points. Instead, all you have to do is find them scattered around the world and hop in. This is hugely convenient for less-skilled drivers to accumulate a wealth of cars, but not so good when you realize you’re going to be forced to hunt around a bit for all of them. Thankfully, there are multiple versions of the same car around the city, as well as the fact that most are near roads. Weirdly, when playing in single player, the cars will remain wherever you left them. So although you can switch to another car via the menu, you will also be warped immediately to where it was driven last.
Another odd design choice is that points accumulated in one mode are not necessarily going to transfer over to the other. The same goes for the new car parts and upgrades you receive after winning races. While each car has its specific upgrades that cannot be transferred to other cars, they also cannot be transferred to those same cars online. It seems odd that the two must be maintained as nearly separate systems.
In regards to singleplayer mode, you will get most of the feeling of being online but without some of the fun. Playing by yourself in a huge city feels a bit lonely, not to mention unrewarding. What good is it to prove yourself through all these random challenges if there’s no goal at the end aside from getting a few more cars? Multiplayer is more creative and allows for all the fun that players will get up to with each other.
Multiplayer mode has players engaging in a playlist of challenges. As they complete them, each player ranks up or down in the listings. Sometimes, there will be moments that feel unfair, but other times there will be amusing situations. If nothing else, there is something endearing about crashing into other players playfully instead of completing the expected challenge. It is possible to create your own playlists, but a better idea to let the game randomize them itself. In this way, you are able to have a more free form experience in which no one is really prepared for what will happen next.
In challenges both online and offline you will have to contend with police. There is no way to turn them off and at times they will be much more trouble than they’re worth. Say, for example, all you want to do is hurry on your way to a challenge. That is fine, until you do some sort of law-breaking thing and the cops come after you. With them hot on your tail you can no longer hit up a race but instead must out run or hide from your pursuers. More often than not, this ends up putting a huge kink in your plans and gets your far away from your destination. At the very least, it offers points as compensation, but absolutely none if you get caught. Cops busting in during challenges are a bit more entertaining at least as they tend to bash into enemies instead of you.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted has many positive aspects about it as well as ones you can’t help but question. If you are someone who adores Burnout Paradise and wish another existed, then this is the perfect game for you. It is so close to that game (with added content) that it should still scratch that itch. On the other hand, if you want a very straightforward racing experience you should stay far away. This is a game made for meandering play as well as wreaking havoc online.
+ Great selection of cars with different racing styles
+ Lots of challenges to undertake solo or online
+ Fun grab bag of multiplayer activities
- Lack of carry-over for challenges and upgrades between cars
- Police are too much of a hindrance
- Other weird design choices like spawning where cars are parked
Overall Score: 7 (Out of 10)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is recommended for gamers who like to play around or adored Burnout Paradise.
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