Criterion’s remake of one of the greatest racing games that launched with the Xbox 360 in 2005 is now out in stores worldwide; although a new Need for Speed game using the same title as the original Most Wanted, it actually bares very little resemblance and gone are the days of beating street gangs to rank up the most wanted list – this time it’s all about you and the cops!
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a massive open world racing game that currently rivals Forza Horizon in terms of the epic scale of the fictional environments that you drive around. What looks like real, living open world cities are begging to be explored as you jack cars, evade the Police, fly past speed cameras and participate in challenges against players online, your friends and making your mark on the social leaderboards. Unlike many ‘other’ racers albeit open world or not, one of the key differences with Most Wanted is that it puts you instantly into the action from the moment you enter into the city of Fairhaven. That very moment you hit the accelerator there is no going back as you remain connected in an open world “built for epic races and chases”. The motto here is also that if you see a car available you can quite literally just take it and drive it – no need to rank up, unlock or win cars, if you can see it you can drive it, simple as that.
Taking away the traditional method in racing games of earning your decent cars by the unlocking method, winning races to get them or being an exceptionally skilled driver, it does make a refreshing change of just being able to take a ride in whatever takes your fancy should you find the odd Bentley or Lamborghini parked up somewhere. The difference between all of the cars is that each car has its own set of races and challenges around the city of Fairhaven, so you will not be able to sit in a Porsche and race against an Alfa Romeo when you enter into the races as it will be against cars of a similar class. So, the theory is that the more cars you find to ‘jack’ the more races you’ll be able to enter and then comes the eventual point and purpose – becoming the Most Wanted. Almost all cars are available from the start; all you have to do is find them.
If you’ve owned the previous Need for Speed: Most Wanted game from 2005, you’ll remember that to become the Most Wanted you had to participate in races against gangs and try to take over parts of the city controlled by your rivals? In this Most Wanted from Criterion, it’s about mastering each car to earn Speed Points which lead to ranking up, allowing upgrade’s to your tires, chassis, body and suspension. Once you’ve scored enough points you will then also earn the right to take on ten of the hottest cars in the game, known as the Most Wanted Racers. To become Fairhaven’s Most Wanted yourself, you need to have beaten them all, but it is one gruelling challenge. You need to be very familiar with the open roads, the motorways, industrial estates and many of the secret passageways as well as having some top mods on your cars that will unlock after successfully winning races. Anyone who can beat the Most Wanted drivers truly deserve their title of being in the Most Wanted – and you even get to keep their car as a trophy to cruise the streets with. These are the only ten cars not available in the game anywhere else or by any other means other than beating the Most Wanted.
Your character in Most Wanted is always anonymous, and when not participating in races the majority of your time is spent cruising around the city of Fairhaven. It’s within the exploration that you get to find all of the cars, agree to start new races, and rile up the local police force with your dangerous driving habits. One of the most fun experiences to be had with a fictional do-as-you-please open world racer is to cause havoc and mayhem on the roads. Smash into cars, break down barricades, zoom through the speed cameras full pelt and you’ll almost guarantee yourself a close encounter with the law – and evading the Police in Most Wanted is a skill in itself, prepare to be heavily enforced as cop cars pursue you from every corner! However, if you can find somewhere to hide after you’ve been smashed into, trapped and cornered you’ll enter a cool down mode where it will eventually be safe to drive the streets again, but your car will always have a heat level marker. All in all there are six heat level markers that you might progress through in the police pursuits where each level has a greater police presence on your trail.
The police in Most Wanted are heavily aggressive and more intent to bust you which can further add intensity to the adrenaline rush. It’s very fast, very exhilarant and there almost feels no way of escaping them. As you try to evade the police, additionally a “Cost to State” factor will also be in play whereby crashing into cars, wrecking the police vehicles chasing you and damaging everything in your way will grant you a higher determination from the police to bust your ass. If you do get busted though you will just start the game again from a safer place with no penalties, but it’s worth evading just to reap the rewards and for the experience.
Welcome to a whole new multiplayer experience in Most Wanted from Criterion too – say goodbye to lobbies, menu’s and the sitting around waiting for others to join a game. Now, the multiplayer strategy is all about keeping the action flowing with what is regarded as non-stop multiplayer non-stop competition! The online play is entirely all about intense competitions, ranking up and gaining vehicle modifications. All you need do is pick a car, meet up with your friends and enjoy a nonstop Playlist of competitive events. The developers describe this as online driving, as you’ve never seen it. All you’ve got to do is turn up in the right car: Sports, Exotic, Track, SUV… There’s no grid. No orderly formation. Fight your way to the start line, muscle your rivals out of position and go when you like. Jump the gun, and your engine cuts out making you a massive target for the chasing pack.
Multiplayer is more of a continued experience followed over from the main game where you get to enjoy a combination of Challenges, Races, Speed Tests and Team Racing scenerios . You enter the Fairview in Free Drive mode and select your options from the Easy Drive drop down menu system. It’s a slick and intuitive options menu both in solo and multiplayer play that uses not only the controller, but if you have a Kinect sensor you can just say what the options are to choose your desired selection. Easy Drive includes the options to edit your public and private game types, personalise your number plate, customise your car, change your car, and set way points to the destination of races on the map. It’s everything you could need at easy access. To fully experience everything in multiplayer, Most Wanted requires an Origin Account as mandatory and an Online Pass code found in the box with new retail copies.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted from Criterion is a casual racers dream with easy drop in/out multiplayer, instant action with high speed chases that are both thrilling and exhilarating. There are plenty of challenges and races to keep this game alive for months on end with making the Most Wanted list a serious achievement if not a personal goal. Visually it may not be as breath-taking as other open world racers like Forza Horizon, but it has a more urban and edgy presentation despite lacking in story and realism. Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a must buy game and a great addition to the Need for Speed franchise which opens up the possibility for a lot more exciting things to come in future.