Criterion has been tasked again to bring a new Need for Speed and the end result is fantastic. Read our Need for Speed Most Wanted Review to find out why.
About two years ago, Criterion brought us NFS: High Pursuit, which, as many people said, was maybe the best Need for Speed game ever made. This year saw the release of their next installation on the NFS series, Most Wanted and let me tell you that the game is near perfect.
The original Most Wanted was released back in 2005 and it was really good. Great graphics, awesome driving physics, good story, many cars etc. You naturally might ask, what is new and better on this year's Most Wanted? Well, it's not a sequel to the 2005 game, it's a reboot and it does almost everything better than the original did. Yes you read it right, almost everything. I was very disappointed that this game lacked a story. In the original one, you raced against a Porche Carrera GT in an amazing tuned BMW M3, if I am not wrong, and somehow he tricked you into loosing the race and loosing the pink slips of your car and your pride at the same time.
So your entire "mission" was to get back to him, get your car and your pride back. You had to challenge the "Blacklist", 15 drivers to get to him. What I liked about that was that everyone on that list had a face, some kind of backstory and a personality. None of these is nowhere to be found in the new Most Wanted. As you start the game, a GLADOS-like voice tells you to become the most wanted. That's it! Why? Who are you and who are the people on the list? Nothing is ever explained to you.
Another part that I think it's odd and very strange is how you get/unlock the cars. You don't buy them, you don't buy parts for them. Instead you find them in the world and you can use them for free. Again why? There are 41 cars in the game and more than a 120 spots where you will find these cars. You drive near them, press a button and that's it, you switched cars! No more driving to shops, no more driving to the garage. I don't know about you guys, but I liked doing those things.
Something else they changed is how you customize your cars. In the past NFS games, you raced, earned money and then you customized your car. Now you have only to do races and you unlock parts for the car you are currently driving. I like it because it's not that time consuming and I hate it because it is time consuming?! You might think I am crazy (and I am a little bit :D) but hear me out. In the past you needed to complete many races to get the funds to unlock and buy parts like NOS, aerodynamics etc. for your car, now you just do a small number of races and you have your car fully customized which really is cool. Now for the other side of the medal, you have to do this for every car you drive and you will drive a lot of them. I'll explain it for you.
Since the start of the game, the whole map is open and it means you can go anywhere. As you drive around, you can find an amazing car like a Lamborghini lets say. You complete the races, you customize it with the new parts and then, you have to switch it! Yes to advance in the most wanted list you need Speed Points which you earn by completing races. For each car you have 5 races, ranging from easy to hard. Once you complete them, you have to switch car. There is no other way. And to get to the top and challenge the most wanted, you will switch a lot of cars from hatchbacks to super-cars like the Koenigsegg Agera R. This can become boring quickly as you have to do the same races over and over again for each car to earn points and unlock parts.
I think that there are a total of 20, maybe more maybe less, unique races in Most Wanted. Now imagine completing each one of them several times with almost every car. The races range from Circuits, Sprints, Ambush, where you must evade the cops, Speed runs, which involve traversing through a course in the highest average speed possible and the Most Wanted races which I found to be the best ones, long and challenging. Easydrive, a menu that is always on the top left and it lets you mod a car, switch cars or set a waypoint to a race, all using the D-pads, makes everything easy and very fast.
As I said it can become boring sometimes, but you will still enjoy racing because each car feel unique. The handling, the speed, drifting through corners, all is unique to each car. Criterion has done an amazing work on this part. The races are fast and feel a lot more. It is very satisfying drifting perfectly around a corner at 250 km/h. Most of the racing games cause to me a motion sickness and I can't play them for very long. However I played Most Wanted for 5 hours straight and nothing thanks to all the care Criterion put into this game.
The world they crafted, the open-world of Fairhaven, is amazing. It feels alive, it is alive, traffic and all. It wouldn't have been Most Wanted without cops and OMG here they are brutal, in a good sense. If a cop is nearby and you are going fast, they will pursuit you and escaping them can become difficult. At first and second heat level it's easy, but a little higher... They will continue chasing you, they will put up road blocks, spikes and sometimes a SWAT SUV will ram you head on. It is amazing it is done perfectly!
But the open-world nature of the world shines more on the multiplayer. The multiplayer here is phenomenal. Sure it sucks that you have to do all the races for all the cars again to unlock the new parts, but who cares. I haven't had this much fun playing multiplayer since I can't remember. Up to 7 friends can join you in Fairhaven and you compete with each other in different races and challenges. Playlists are created with races and crazy challenges, like who can drift the most or who can jump the most or who can perform a crazy jump etc. These events are linked by mini-races as players attempt to get to the starting point before the rest. Criterion is known for the Burnout franchise and they brought some of it's charm here in Most Wanted. Yes you can takedown other players and doing one is very satisfying. Another cool thing that they put in the multiplayer are the billboards, which are updated showing your friend's face who is doing better in the game and smashing it at full speed can also be very satisfying. As I said the multiplayer is super fun!
Visually the game looks stunning, even if most of the time you see it passing at over 200 km/h. The attention to detail is phenomenal. The cars look beautiful and the damage done on them looks realistic. The use of lightning is done marvelously and it truly brings the world and the cars to life. I could talk for hours about how beautiful the world looks, but you better see it for yourself. In terms of sound and soundtrack, this game has no match. The engines sound alive. Mute the music leaving only the SFX and you will understand what I am talking about. Then travel through a tunnel... (thank me later). The amazing soundtrack has been always a staple in the Need for Speed games and that of Most Wanted is no exception. You will find music from Muse, The Who, Green Day, Skrillex, Calvin Harris etc. All fits perfectly here! Criterion has made a stunningly beautiful game with an amazing sound design and soundtrack. What's not to love here?
Overall Most Wanted is an amazing game. Singleplayer is very good, however its shortcomings and the multiplayer is just phenomenal. The presentation it's outstanding, a treat for your eyes and ears. Easydrive is a neat feature and the Autolog only make it better. Get Most Wanted now and thank me later!