The recent reboot of Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a Criterion game through and through. These are the guys that brought you the Burnout series, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and a couple other fantastic racing games.
Anyone who has played Burnout Paradise, you know what you are getting into. Another open world to explore and traverse, along with breakable billboards, security gates, and street cameras to speed past. These extra activities keep the game interesting and automatically update through the revamped Autolog System to track your progress and is constantly compare everything you do with your friends. These distractions from the main story serve their purpose and kept me speeding and searching throughout this open playground for ways to beat my friends
Need for Speed attempts to reconnect with its roots in this new installment, and by all means succeeds. The heart of the game pins you against the top ten most wanted racers in the city in a head to head match for pink slips. You need to complete other races around the city for essential Speed Points and upgrades to gain the opportunity to put yourself at the top of the city most wanted list.
This new city is full of dark secrete passages, damp sewers, high rooftops and expansive freeways to explore. The secrete to winning any race is to know your surroundings. There's always a short cut around the next corner.
Although this concept is fun at first the police that are ever-present, patrolling the city are notably more annoying than in past games. What starts out as an accidental collision constantly ends with a 20+ minute chase that is almost impossible to escape from. More often than not I found myself just letting the cops bust me because there was no real penalty besides losing all the Speed Points you would have gained in the pursuit.
This game exceeds in the design department. Although there is no weather system both the cars and environment have a ton of character and are excellently portrayed. Every car drives differently and handles as you would expect its real counterpart to do. What's unique about Most Wanted's leveling system is that all the cars in the game (excluding most wanted cars) are available from the very beginning if you know where to look. All you have to do is drive up to a one of the many new cars scattered throughout the city and hop in.
Most wanted rewards you with Speed Points for doing almost anything. Want to get in a police pursuit, go for it! Want to jump off the highest cliff through a conveniently placed billboard? Knock yourself out! Got the feeling to just race around the city blowing past traffic cameras? You can do that too. Apart from the game's multiplayer there's plenty to keep you entertained.
Every car has five races that unlock certain modifications for your current ride. The task of retrieving the same 10 upgrades is somewhat repetitive but there are plenty of race types to keep the gameplay interesting.
The physics in Most Wanted are a little on the unrealistic side though. Need for Speed is more about swerving around corners and crashing into walls with million dollar sports cars. The crashes you evidently are going to get into both sound and look fantastic. It is always supper satisfying to watch your car get crunched like and accordion up against a wall. Electronic Arts also did a superb job selecting a heat pounding and blood pumping soundtrack to go along with the mayhem. It spans for the likes of up and coming rock artists to well known bands like Muse, and than does a 180 and is also full of energetic electronic dance toons from the likes of Skrillex and Deadmau5.
Multiplayer also takes a new approach for the series. Once you redeem your Online Pass you can enter a lobby with up to eight players. Most Wanted keeps the gameplay fresh by essentially making a shuffled playlist of events that are always fun. They even make it a race to meet up at the starting line.
All in all, Need for Speed Most Wanted is a fun but at times annoying arcade racer. The main story will most likely take an average of a day or so to complete so if you're not a completionist I would recommend a rent, but if you are a fan of the series and are in need of a quick high adrenaline fix this game is for you.