Need For Speed: Most Wanted — 3-Hit Combo

The three-hit combo for the new Need For Speed: Most Wanted is 1) purchased (42nd), 2) played (45th finished), and 3) review. I haven’t experienced the online portion yet, but I have finished the single player mode by beating and then taking down all ten most wanted racers. Stats: 90% in 16 hours and 47 minutes.

My main comparisons will be with Burnout Paradise since I didn’t play Criterion’s previous title Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted review by HartKnight
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours

Worth playing

Great game, but you may just wish they made a new Burnout instead.

As far as what you’d expect for presentation-wise out of a Need For Speed game, it’s well done. There’s an intro for every event which often goes trailing off into crazy territory with cars floating in the air being the most tame of them all. It’s the most artistic part of the game and you might get a kick out of them, but I didn’t. I just wanted to race and it only served to waste my time. They can be skipped, but still load up every time a race is restarted or played again. Otherwise the game is grounded in reality.

Speaking of that reality, it’s rendered very well with stunning graphics. I didn’t think they were hugely improved from Burnout Paradise of 2008, but then again that game was (and still is) great looking to this day.

There are technical faults with Most Wanted that Paradise didn’t have. A few times while in events part of the world wasn’t loaded into memory in time when I got there and the game would just stop for about 15 seconds to load it. Not exactly good programming this time around.

The sound of the cars, cops, traffic, etc. is all as you’d expect. It’s done well, but nothing really stands out.

What does stand out is the music from the EA soundtrack. As typical it sucks and gets annoying very quickly. The custom soundtrack that was patched into the PS3 version of Burnout Paradise is missing and would’ve been a welcome improvement to say the least.

Since all you do in this game is race, it had better be good and thankfully it is. The events you can compete in are point-to-point and lap races, ambushes where you have to lose the cops in as little time as possible, and trying to cross the finish line at or above a set average speed. Doing well nets you upgrades for your current car like off-road tires, boost, etc. Unfortunately, you’ll have to basically start from nothing again once you change vehicles.

If you’ve played Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 from 2002 or Criterion’s own Hot Pursuit of 2010 then you’ll have a good idea of how the cars handle. They’re not simulation by any means, but they are more realistic than that of the Burnout series. Despite this the rest is very much Burnout-like with earning boost in the same ways and ramming the competition to get takedowns.

Another element from past Need For Speed titles is the police. They’re inclusion made for a fun experience back in 1998’s Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit. Sadly, the follow-up Need For Speed: High Stakes in 1999 started the trend of the cops being entirely too difficult to get away from. This is usually the case in this game too. You either get away fairly easily or maybe not at all until you get busted.

The CPU controlled racers are of an odd breed. In the normal events they usually act as you’d expect in such a racing game. They have their programmed habits of artificially making the outcome of the events close with the rubber banding AI. In the ten races against the Most Wanted drivers they act very stupidly. You can catch up to them much easier even though you’d think these events would be the most difficult of them all. Rarely did I fail to win on the first try and once beaten in a race they’re available to be taken down during free roam to defeat them for good and get their vehicle.

This is where the Most Wanted racers become absolute morons. When they appear going after them and scoring a hit is easy since they drive like a 16 year old who just got their driving permit. They book it to be sure, but they’ll run into walls and other traffic and all you have to do is ram them while they aren’t moving. I had the final Most Wanted driver actually hit me from behind as they spawned into the world and it scored me the win. It was a hilarious way to finish the game!

Criterion’s second outing with the Need For Speed series is a big success and if you liked these titles in the past, then you’ll surely enjoy this one. As more of a Burnout fan, like I am, you’ll appreciate the inclusion of many elements from Paradise and find this fun, but ultimately you’ll wish this was a fully featured Paradise 2 instead.

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