Available on 360, PS3, PC and PSV l Published by EA l Developed by Criterion Games l Classified PG l Supports 1-8 players
REVIEW IN BRIEF > I am a Need For Speed noob. In fact, I even drive a hatchback. I have a medium sized car with good fuel economy and I hardly ever wash it. I choose to drive instead of walking and I like to play heavy metal loudly at all times. I’ve only ever changed one tyre in my life and didn’t like it because my hands got dirty. But I really like this game. So there.
REVIEW IN FULL > While I’d certainly enjoyed racing games in the past, I hadn’t truly invested in the genre on the current range of consoles. The most obvious sign of this is that when I fired up Most Wanted, I couldn’t finish races and I kept crashing my car. The breakthrough came when realised that I had to tap-tap-tap on the steering, hold down the acceleration, and tap-tap-tap on the brakes to drift. Then, the whole experience completely opened up. This was the beauty of playing an arcade racer. The driving mechanic was geared towards fun and I could fly around the streets as if it was bumper-bowling. With Burnout developer Criterion Games behind the wheel, if I did crash, the results were always going to be spectacular.
The open world city and its outskirts were a sheer joy to drive through and were laced with traffic, hidden jumps and speed cameras to record my stats on.
Graphically this game was amazing. The car models were stunning and showed dirt and crash damage as the city blurred by at breakneck speed. The buildings were detailed, the environments varied and the loading times swift. The open world city and its outskirts were a sheer joy to drive through and were laced with traffic, hidden jumps and speed cameras to record my stats on. Luckily, there were no pedestrians to run over, which probably kept the game’s classification under control.
I entered events that required me to complete laps (circuit), reach an end point (sprint) or keep a high average speed (speed run). I had the most fun with ambush races that required me to escape from the police. Every time I won, I earned speed points that eventually allowed me to unlock races against the 10 most wanted cars. Each of these had me chasing someone all over the map. To win, I had to not only beat my opponent to the finish line, but also take him down in order to add his car to my available list of choices. These boss battles added a strong overall sense of purpose to the game.
Racing was given a sense of risk by having an active and over-powered police force that could chase me down and force me to lose points I had recently earned. This was my favourite element of the game as it was the most challenging by far. These chases escalated like GTA, based on the damage done, and the police response became more severe (larger vehicles, spike strips and active takedowns). It wasn’t unusual for these chases to last 10 minutes or more before I reached cool down. Awesome!
The map contained many cars to unlock, and these were found in places known as jack points. I could swap rides using the easy drive menu and earn upgrades by finishing races in the top three. I could then quickly and easily upgrade a car’s tyres (grip), gears (top speed and acceleration) and body types (weight). Better yet, the changes had an obvious effect on performance.
Multiplayer races were easily accessed. All I had to do was drive to a hub point in the city, meet up with other players and select a game mode.
The only thing that disappointed me about this game was the poor selection of tunes. As a metal fan, girly-man emo songs and techno hits just didn’t cut it, although I didn’t mind hearing some Muse. This was a particular issue, as I heard the same tracks over and over again. I felt myself wishing for different radio stations, but this didn’t alter the fact that the racing was always so much fun.
Multiplayer was clever and competitive. Every time I jumped a distance, smashed a billboard or rushed by a speed camera, the game registered my result online so that my friends could try to beat it. They were all playing Blops2 and Halo 4, but the point still stands. Multiplayer races were easily accessed. All I had to do was drive to a hub point in the city, meet up with other players and select a game mode. Challenges included races, reaching drift points, jumping to a key location or smashing other players. This provided a very different experience to the main campaign as I often had to take out other players, which created a tone of total chaos. This mode felt a lot more like Burnout as so many players just wanted to smash into me… all the time.
I enjoyed my time with the game so much that as soon as I finished it, I went out and bought Hot Pursuit and other racing games. I’m now back in the fold. Brrrm Brrrm.