The new Need For Speed Most Wanted game is just fantastic! I know it’s a weird way to open a review with what I think right away, but there is no other way to open. Also at the time of writing this review, I haven’t gotten a chance to play the multiplayer, so I do apologize in advance.
If you know nothing about the new Most Wanted, all you need to know is that this game is the new child of the company Criterion, the makers of the Burnout games. However, the New Most Wanted is what would happen if the Old Most Wanted and Burnout Paradise had a love child, and I’m perfectly okay with it.
The old Most Wanted was the first Need For Speed game I played in the series. The game follows the story of the player trying to get revenge on a street gang after they sabotaged the player’s car during a race. The game then had the driver tackle the Blacklist of the fifteen Most Wanted Racers in Rockport, aiming for the top to get revenge. Now let’s look at the story of Burnout Paradise…. Well I would say that if the game had one. Instead of a story, Paradise just tosses the player in this big open world, and leaves the driver to explore. Did it feel weird not having a story? Yes it did, but at the same time it felt great! I loved exploring the world for all it had, and I loved seeing everything I could! The only downside of Paradise was the only way to unlock cars was winning challenges. But even when the player unlocked a car, they then had to hunt it down in the city and total it. It was fun after the first few cars, but when it came to the cars the driver needed to win more races, it felt like a chore. So now that Criterion stepped up to take on the re-imagining of Most Wanted, did everything line up like the planets? In short, yes.
To start, Criterion axed the story of the game. Now all the driver is doing is trying to become the top racer on the most wanted list, and there is no sort of revenge plot. While some may find this off putting, I find it rather nice. I’ve never really been one for story in arcade style racers. I’ve always played them for the speed, the racers, and of course the sick sick cars. And boy…. is their list of cars sexy. We are talking about the Jaguar XKR, Lamborghini Aventador, Audi R8 GT Spyder, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911, and the Aston Martin V12 Vantage just to name a few. This game has a total of forty-two amazing cars, and each car is very different. Each car has their own stats that you can tweak with car customizations, and at times one supped up fully level car wont be enough. Also it gets better. Unlike Paradise the player does not have to hunt down these cars except for the ten on the Most Wanted List. All of the remaining thirty-two cars are hidden in the city. And to unlock them, all the player has to do is drive up next to one and press the jack button. That is it! Once the player jacks a car, the location of it is saved on the smart drive menu, and to get the car back the driver just needs to find it on the smart drive.
Speaking of smart drive, it is nice to see it implemented in this game again. This is a system that is accessed through the d-pad, and the player can go into this menu as they play the game. The smart drive menu acts as the way to access missions, the cars they’ve unlocked, and the car customization menu, and it also lets the driver access the online functions of the game. It is fantastic that everything the player needs in the game is accessible from the d-pad because none of this interrupts gameplay.
The gameplay is very straightforward. The player has to complete a number of races to build up points. Once enough points are obtained, then the player has access to the next most wanted race. Once the boss race is complete, the player then rinses and repeats the process until they finish the final most wanted race. Now unlike most arcade racers, each car the player unlocks has their own set of missions. So the missions that the Land Rover has are completely different from the missions that the player would experience from when using the Nissan GT-R. I love this mission system, and it gives the player a chance to really test out each of the cars, though most people will find their favorite car and complete all of the missions to make the car a monster. Besides getting points for completing the race, players will also get car parts. These parts range from tires to new shocks for the car. The player can customize the car to handle all sorts of races. Having an issue because the race has a massive off-road portion? No problem, just switch out the tires for the off-road one, and the player will be set to finish the race with no issue! There are a lot of combinations that you can out fit your car, and it is a system that I really enjoy while playing.
Now the big thing in this game is the cop chases, and it is one of the most polarizing parts of this game. Oh yes, these are fun to get into, but at the same time it is annoying to accidentally trigger one on your way to a mission. Players can trigger cop chases by bumping into a cop car or by flying past them at high speeds. Now it is simple to avoid a cop chase by not smashing into them, but when using cars such as the Nissan GT-R or the Lamborghini, it is hard not to accidentally trigger the chase due to speeding. Once the player engages in a chase, the player has to out smart the cops by trying to find a hiding place or just by outrunning them entirely. However, the longer that the player stays in the cop chase the more heat builds up. Heat is the amount of attention that the cops are giving to the driver, and there are six levels of heat that the driver can acquire, and it is needless to say that the more heat the player has the harder it is to efficiently lose it. Heat levels one through three are very simple to avoid and are quite basic as far as cop chases go. These levels will send out squad cars and simple barricades. As soon as heat level four is acquired, the cops start to lay out spike strips. Heat level five will introduce a new cop car that will make any driver cringe, as the new car is fast and deadly. Finally, heat level six will introduce helicopters that will almost guarantee that the driver will not be escaping the chase.
There are two ways out of any chase: outrun and hide or get busted by the cops. The cops will arrest the player if the player remains motionless while cops are in close proximity. There is a gauge that will start to build up on the bottom part of the screen, and once the gauge is full, the player is busted. Outrunning and hiding is a different story all together. The player’s car needs to be fast and nimble if one wishes to outrun the cops. Also the player needs to know the car that they drive well so they can start to think of maneuvers. Once the driver is out of sight from the cops, they can try to find a place to hide, try to keep on running, or find a gas station to get a new paint job. The best way I found to get the cops off my tail was to make sure that I knew the closest gas station. Getting a new paint job was the easiest way to escape the cops in my experience. Sure, the driver can continue to speed along to their heart’s content, but just because the player avoid the cops behind them doesn’t mean that their won't be new cops in front of them to deal with. Also, if the player isn’t familiar or can’t remember the best hiding spots, then the player will start to lose focus and might very well get caught by the cops.
This game was all that I expected from Criterion and more. The new city is large, the graphics are top notch, and the car list is my favorite list outside of a Forza or a Gran Turismo game. If there were any complaints that I have for the game, it would be that some players would find the difficulty a bit too hard. I love hard games to death, and Criterion is known for making their racers hard. This game is no exception. There are races that players will have to try again and again and again just to make sure that they get in first place. The enemy AI is intelligent and they will figure out the best way to tackle the course as well as take the player out. The cops are just genius, and they will know the best way to kill the player. Sure, at times this can be infuriating, but it is never the game’s fault if the player looses the race. These races will test the player’s skills, and the player needs to focus at all times. Also I would recommend playing music off one’s iTunes or Spotify. The in-game soundtrack is short, and the sound track is very lacking in good music. This is sad because the music in Burnout Paradise was very well selected. Other then those complaints I would recommend this to anyone.