In short

The latest in the Need for Speed series, Most Wanted comes with an impressive lineup of cars and eye melting visuals. Some small issues added to my frustration but nothing felt better than going down a highway at 300km in the wrong lane.

Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: EA
Distributor: EA
For fans of: Open World Racers
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, PSVita, WiiU, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7/10

Gameplay and Features

To say Most Wanted has a storyline won’t be entirely false. You are a faceless driver who is given a car and you need to win races and drive around a city to find new cars. A female (it is always female) voice over assures you that if you apply yourself then soon you will be able to challenge and takedown the 10 Most Wanted racers that are currently running the show. Yes, Most Wanted has a storyline but it is a really weak played out one, even for driving games.

But no one plays a driving game for the story. As I mentioned, you get a car which has five races attached to it. Winning each race unlocks upgrades that will improve your stats as well as Speed Points – or SP – which lets you climb the ladder and unlock the Most Wanted races. The setting is a fictional city called Fairhaven which has everything a racing car driver would need. Bends, miles and miles of highway, and traffic. The latter of those you will learn to hate. You have to drive around the city in order to discover new cars, which like the first, has five races attached to it which lets you win upgrades for that car. With 41 cars scattered across Fairhaven you will be fairly busy with trying out new cars and tracks. The cars range from Classic Porsches to the more modern Bugatti Veyron, giving the player a wide selection of choice across the board.

The cars handle a lot like previous Criterion racers, but with less emphasis on boost. It felt like they were trying to make a more realistic Burnout game. Just like in Burnout there are crash cinematics that play when you inevitably hit oncoming traffic (or a wall), which are a feast to watch but they don’t seem to serve any purpose other than looking pretty. The crashes also aren’t as over the top, causing them to go from exciting to boring to downright annoying as you are unable to turn them off or skip them. The races themselves are well laid out with a whole range tracks to choose from which can go off-road at times. There mainly three types or races: Sprint Racing which takes you from point A to B, Circuit Racing which has you running laps and Pursuit which sees you running away from the cops in any direction you see fit. In Sprint or Circuit there are no arrows showing you the way, meaning you need to rely on checkpoints and the mini map to make sure you don’t miss a turn.  Which you will… a lot.

A menu ironically called, “EasyDrive” has been added to the game which is where you choose your races, cars, upgrades or switch to multiplayer. I say ironically, because to use this menu you need to take your thumb off the analog stick you use to steer and onto the Dpad and since using the menu doesn’t pause the game you are left with a car at full throttle with no one driving. Pausing the game also has a slight delay on it which adds to the frustration of wanting to “quickly” restart a race after one too many crashes.

The multiplayer is a bit of strange affair. You are paired with friends or online strangers and given tasks to perform like jumping off cliffs or into parking lots a certain number of times. The goal is displayed in marquee text on the bottom of the screen; however when you focus to read this one of your online partners might take you out bringing up the crash cinematic and having you start all over again trying to figure out what exactly you have to do. If like me, you suffer from rage issues you might want to stick to single player where your times and scores are compared to your friends on the Speedwall. An interesting development is that it doesn’t matter on what platform your friends played the game, the scores are saved to your Origin account and therefore you are able to see someone’s time set on the PSVita on your Xbox 360.                                                            

Sound and Visuals

Most Wanted comes with a soundtrack as broad as its selection of cars. There is something for everyone from Dubstep to old school rock. If you don’t like a song you can easily skip to the next one by pressing the right bumper button. Not to be drowned out though are the sounds from the cars themselves which you will feel in the pit of your stomach as you activate the boost on the Veyron.

These cars don’t just sound real though. They look like a splitting image of their real life counterparts and you can see a lot of effort was put into the realism of the cars themselves. You would be forgiven if you just sat parked somewhere rotating the camera around your car slowly while imagining you are in a show room choosing which car to buy. With a stunning city surrounding you it is also easy to spent hours just riding around exploring every nook and cranny.

Closing comments

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a great racer for fans of arcade style racing but with a few elements that seem to be put there to add to your frustration. If you are looking for a Burnout game you will be highly disappointed but if you want to go fast in some really nice cars and beat all your friends’ high scores, this is the game for you.

Zombiegamer rating: