Need for Speed Most Wanted review

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Posted on 2012-11-02

Criterion have always made fun racing games. They’re most well known for making the Burnout games but recently they’ve turned their hand to the Need for Speed series with Hot Pursuit. After the mediocre success of The Run made by another developer, they’ve now been handed the mantle once again to develop a reboot of Need for Speed Most Wanted and what they’ve come up with is actually the spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise.

Set in the open world of Fairhaven City, you enter over the bridge to the operatic tones of Muse and then immediately get to jump into a Porsche in one of the city’s many Jack Spots. You see, almost every car is available to drive at any time in Most Wanted if you can find where they’re hiding which means if you want to razz about in a Lamborghini instead of a Ford, all you have to do is hunt it down. Single player is basically just a series of races and chases. As you burn about the city you also earn speed points and unlock new modifications for your cars which will help you in a variety of different situations. If you happen across an off-road race you can fit off-road tyres for extra grip or if you know a race has a series of long straights you can make sure you have long gears equipped for a higher top speed. None of these mods will change the look of your car which I know is making fans of the original Most Wanted despair but they do effect the way your car handles which for me is the most important thing.

As you earn speedpoints you’ll then unlock Most Wanted races where you must beat one of ten Most Wanted drivers and then takedown their car to shut them down and use their car if you so wish. Forza Horizon has actually stolen some of Most Wanted’s thunder by using lots of Criterion’s ideas but it’s the takedowns that still make this game a lot of fun. There’s something tremendously satisfying about smashing other cars out of the way and it never gets tired.

Autolog is back in the form of 2.0 and this is where your single player experience expands amongst your friends if you’re online. Everything you do is tracked including how far you jump through a billboard, how quickly you race past speed cameras and of course those race times. It’s this that gives you a reason to keep coming back and it’s truly compulsive.

It’s really exciting stuff. The cars and the world you drive about in look stunning and the handling, be it a Landrover or an Ariel Atom you’re behind the wheel of, is as accessible as ever.

The game is let down by a couple of issues though. On the Xbox 360 there’s noticeable slowdown if too much is happening on screen at once and the Easydrive system they use to eliminate menus isn’t actually that easy to use. The idea is to change cars or mods on the fly during races but in practice trying to change your loadout mid-race and trying to navigate when the map disappears from view usually results in a crash. Voice controls on Kinect help a bit but then if you’re playing with friends it sometimes brings up the menu when you don’t want it to when it mishears a conversation you might be having - again resulting in the map disappearing from the screen.

Still, take my tip and make sure your car is race ready before you start and keep your mouth shut during races and this is the most fun you’ll have with a driving game this year. Couple this with a multiplayer mode that’s basically a massive playground with more than just races to contend with and you’ve got a right bobby dazzler of a racer that can’t get less than 9 out of 10.

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Related: Need for Speed series, fun racing games, Need for Speed Most Wanted review on Youtube

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