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Need for Speed: Most Wanted Review

by Ryan Lineker November 3, 2012

The long awaited sequel to Burnout Paradise is here, well sort of. Criterion have taken the reins on developing the latest Need for Speed game, packing into it many of the much loved features from their previous open world racing title.

After a few hours of crashing your car into every building located on a corner, getting taken down by oncoming traffic, and being busted by Fairhaven’s extremely persistent police force, the controls will finally come to you. Drifting around corners becomes second nature, you’re always keeping your eye on the side of the road looking for ways to evade the pesky cops and dodging traffic is common place. And now the enjoyment of Most Wanted really begins.

This latest NFS title is set in the city of Fairhaven which features an expansive metropolis city centre, an industrial district which is amazing to explore, and long open winding roads through the countryside waiting to be raced on.

There isn’t much of a story in this installment of Need for Speed, but this doesn’t take anything away from the game. The basis of the game is to become the most wanted racer in Fairhaven. This is achieved by beating the 10 most notorious racers that are currently topping the cities list.

To race and beat the cities most illusive racers you will need to reach the set target of speed points for that racer. Speed Points are like the games currency, you will receive speed points for winning races, smashing billboards, breaking down gates and of course the famous Most Wanted police pursuits.

As previously mentioned this game is made by Criterion who made the highly acclaimed Burnout Paradise. As you would expect from this the game carries across lots of features from Paradise into this Need for Speed game. One memorable transferred feature is to find and destroy all the gates and billboards that are to be found in the city. This adds a great emphasis on the free roaming premise of the game, as there is a lot to do as well as just racing.

Another feature sort of taken from Burnout is the drive through repair shop. Whereas in burnout there were separate drive thru’s for paint, nitrous and repairs, in Most Wanted these are all rolled into one. So when the cops are chasing you, you can get a top up of nitrous and a new paint job all in one go.

The way in which you unlock cars is different though. You will be cruising round the city on the way to a race or looking for billboards to smash and then in the distance you will see a car parked up with a logo above it. As you get closer the logo becomes clearer, you see the luscious design of the super car and when you pull up next to it, it is added to your collection. Once in your collection you can choose to jump into the car at that location whenever you want using the Easy Drive menu system.

Easy Drive is a quick and easy menu system that allows you to quickly jump between cars, events and multiplayer. It also allows you to control what upgrades you have on your car, and even change them during a race. The only things that you can’t do with Easy Drive are checking the map of the city and viewing your driver profile.

With each car you drive on Most Wanted there are five different events that you can compete in, although some of the event are repeated for different cars so you can end up doing the same event over and over again. There are different types of events to complete, these range from circuit races, point-to-point races and ambush where the goal is to lose your current wanted levels and escape from the police that are hot on your tail.

With each event you unlock new modifications for your car, these include: nitrous systems, different chassis, tyres, body types and gears. But with 65 different cars and 5 events for each there are lots of races for you to complete!

As you would expect from the title of the game, the police force of Fairhaven play a large role in the game whether it be in free roam or in a race. The police maintain a low presence around the city, that is until you go roaring past them at high speed, or clip their car when you are drifting around a corner.

Then a pursuit will entail with the level of police presence increasing with the more crimes that you commit in the chase. With each level the more ‘hardcore’ the police become, whether it be setting up roadblock or tyre strips. Once you get to the highest level (6) the SWAT team of Fairhaven get involved with almost impenetrable roadblocks.

As well as the single player aspect of the game there is a great online multiplayer side of the game. This also follows in the footsteps of its Burnout predecessor, as when you start an online session it allows people to jump into your city, allowing everyone to explore together after a few clicks on Easy Drive.

Once players are in, the host of the game can set up a Speedlist, which is a set of 5 challenges for the players to complete. This is a great way to differentiate from the normal multiplayer racing. There is even an option for a random set of challenges if you don’t want to have to decide.

The events online include your typical races, circuit and point-to-point, but also takedown challenges, drift events and missions. The online is great fun with friends or just player you meet in the game, although it can be frustrating if you get taken down in the last corner of a race that you should have won.

There was one downside to this Xbox 360 version of the game and that was with the frame rate. When you are in a race with lots of opponents or there are a lot of police on your tail, there is a significant drop in the frame rate of the game. I am hoping that this will get fixed in a future patch though.

Need for Speed Most Wanted is the successor to Burnout Paradise that everyone has been waiting for, with great scenery and licensed cars. The multiplayer is addictive, competitive and great fun. Just make sure you keep an eye out for those pesky police.

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