Back in 2005, when EA released Need For Speed: Most Wanted, I was hooked to it. I had a pretty decently powerful PC back then, and loved playing the game at Full HD resolution with all the settings to max. Not only did the game look absolutely fabulous, it was insanely fun to play as well. I even went ahead and got an Xbox 360 controller for PC so that I could enjoy playing the game more.
After Most Wanted, the next racing game that I got hooked to was Burnout Revenge when EA finally released it for PC. I had heard a lot about Burnout on consoles and from my hardcore gamer friends that how much better the series is compared to NFS.
Once I started playing Burnout Revenge, I could not agree less with my friends. The game was really well done, and had more than just ‘racing’ to it. In between, I never tried any of the NFS games that were released including Shift, Run and more. They all got horrible reviews, and I really did not want to spoil all the good memories I had of playing NFS: MW in my mind.
So, when EA and Criterion released Need For Speed: Most Wanted again this year, I was more than excited. So, here is my review of Need For Speed: Most Wanted after playing the game for the last couple of weeks.
In nearly all the racing games, the gamer needs to win races, or earn bonus/XP/points to unlock better and powerful cars. Most Wanted bucks this trend. You can roam around in the city – Fairhaven – aimlessly and find all the cars you want to. It’s an open-world out there, and it is up to you to explore it!
The game does have a pretty loose narrative though. Winning races will earn you speed points, which will allow you to challenge the top 10 Most Wanted drivers in the city. These top 10 most wanted racers drive the most desirable cards including many concept cars. Keep in mind that only beating a most wanted driver in a race is not enough to earn his car; you need to takedown his car as well.
Winning races also have another incentive apart from earning speed points, you get to unlock mods for your car, including shorter gears, lighter chassis etc. Every new car that you get is completely stock, so you need to win races to not only earn speed points, but also mods for your car. Every car has five different races allotted to it ranging from easy to hard.
One thing, which Most Wanted absolutely nails, is the handling of the cars. All the cars handle differently at varying speeds, with different mods, at different corners.
The Criterion/Burnout effect in Most Wanted is also clearly visible with billboards that can be smashed, hidden corners/shortcuts. The ‘Burnout’ effect is definitely there, and I mean it in a positive way.
Most Wanted also has a very different approach to races. There is no starting line here. Instead, players are greeted with a stunning track intro video, which is different for different tracks, before they are put in control of their car right in the middle of the race.
If it is a city based racing game, cops have to be there, and Most Wanted is no exception. There are 6 different heat levels, and according to the heat level, the cops get tougher by bringing in SUVs or by deploying spike stripes. Evading cops in Most Wanted is no easy task. I actually spent more than an hour trying to evade cops once, before giving up. You can evade cops by either aiming for the horizon and flat-out outpacing them or by taking some quick corners and hiding somewhere underground.
The open-world, the graphics, the ability to drive a Lamborghini Gallardo right from the start without the need to win a race, the Burnout effect, the EasyDrive navigation system to select mods or races for your car are easily the strengths of the game. The tracks of the game are really well executed as well. They are not only limited to the city roads but include a bit of off-roading and hidden shortcuts as well.
The attention-to-detail in Most Wanted is amazing as well — watching the debris flying from another car and then sending it into oblivion by knocking it with your car — all while driving your car at insane speeds. Each and every car in Most Wanted has been given the treatment they deserve, right from the Ford Focus ST to the Lamborghini Countach.
Don’t expect to win races easily in Most Wanted. The competing cars can sometimes be clearly much more faster than you, and if you miss those barely visible shortcuts, there is a fat chance of you winning the game. In some races, you will be on your toes and will have to make full use of the nitrous boost to rank among the top 3. You may win the ‘Easy’ races on stock cars, but beyond that, if you are not gonna modify your car, the chances of you winning are going to get extremely slim.
As much as I like Most Wanted, I am not hooked to it. Blame my lack of gaming experience or the game itself, but there are no indicators or barriers in the racetracks so as to prevent the player from going off-road. Imagine driving an Aston Marin at nearly 200MPH on a flat road in a race, which you are leading, only to realize that you missed a turn. While there is an on-screen map that highlights the racing path, it is simply not possible to take your eyes off the road when you are driving at such high speeds. Do so, and you end up crashing your car.
The baffling part? There are actually virtual barriers present in certain points in some tracks. Why not everywhere? Or a virtual indicator like in Forza? I am fine with a game being very tough to play, but the lack of any kind of indicator makes me absolutely want smash my console or TV out of frustration. Nothing can be more frustrating that losing a race because you took a wrong turn.
This is perhaps the sole reason why I won’t recommend Most Wanted to anyone. The game does have some other oddities as well. If cops chasing you take you down, you will not be busted. Instead, the game resumes from the same place where you crashed. You can wreck you car into pieces, but it will not affect the performance of the car.
If you are a racing game freak, you are going to love Most Wanted. Nearly every aspect of the game has been executed very well, and the several oddities in the game are nothing too much to be bothered about. However, if you are new to racing games or a casual gamer, I will recommend you to not to spend your money on Most Wanted. ‘The Bad’ part of my review clearly sums up my lone frustration with the game and why I won’t play the game and recommend it to anyone.
P.S. – What’s up with the need for an Origin account? Is not an Xbox Live Account enough? I really don’t see the point of creating any kind of accounts for Xbox games, especially when I am already paying for an Xbox Live account.
Product Reviewed: Need For Speed: Most Wanted [Xbox 360]
Here is our review of Need For Speed: Most Wanted for the Xbox 360.