Published on December 24th, 2012 | by Hubert McReed0
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Summary: Quite simply one of the best driving games you'll ever play on PS3
A driving game that really lives up to its name
In a month where some of the biggest names get releases (Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed to name but two), it may be considered a little odd to put a driving game at the top of the pile, but it’s without even the slightest hint of a shadow of a doubt that we do. Simply put, Need for Speed Most Wanted was our favorite game released this month, and if it wasn’t for the wondrous Dishonored, it may well be the most fun we’ve had all year.
We even love the way the game scene in a typical American the city while the narrator sets the starts, as the intro pans slowly around drawl.Yep, so far, so normal. The city’s well designed and there’s clearly plenty of opportunity for mischief, but you’re a gaming veteran… you know the score. Then the intro slowly and perfectly melds into gameplay and you’re off. It’s one of the most beautiful starts to a game we can remember for quite some time.
Need for Speed Most Wanted is the game we hoped and prayed it would be. When Criterion (who up until 2010 were famed for producing the Burnout series of games) kindly gave us Need for Speed Hot Pursuit we were impressed, but when they announced they were revisiting Most Wanted and were planning on making it open-world in the style of Burnout Paradise, we were in love. And it simply couldn’t be any better.
You start off the game in a Porsche (well, someone has to), and slowly you begin to unlock cars on the map. Find a car, jump into it and then you can undertake its collection of races. Come first or second and you’re rewarded with bonus items (usually tires or turbos) which get progressively better as you best the harder races. There are well over 100 cars to find and race, ranging from Land Rovers to Lotus 7s (a personal favorite of the editor) and it becomes an obsession to find them all. Just driving close by one will add a steering wheel to your map and then you can select it whenever you wish.
As one of the ‘most wanted’ you’ll quickly get spotted by police
There is more to keep an eye out for though, as you also need to find every speed camera in the game, and there is a wide range of billboards that need to be smashed through, too. Again, the map will conveniently pinpoint the locations of the cameras and billboards you’ve already found, but it’s still a major mission to find the lot. And you will find them, and for the simple reason that you’ll want to.
Navigating the game’s menus couldn’t be simpler, which is due to the Easy Drive system, which is another new feature for the series. Using just the arrow keys, you can work your way through the menus without pausing the game. Its simplicity is the key here, as it soon becomes second nature to change your car’s tires on the fly, or just change the sat nav to plot the course to a new race or recently discovered car. The ‘Easy Drive’ moniker might hint at this being a novelty feature for the game, but the reality that this is surely one that will be used time and time again.
There’s so much that could’ve gone wrong with Most Wanted that we would scarcely know where to start. Open-world driving games are a difficult beast at the best of times, and aimlessly driving around a massive city can soon become boring. The beauty with Most Wanted is that there’s something to do or find on every street. You’ll discover side-roads that lead you to an Aston Martin or short-cuts on a – which, with its ridiculous power-hillside run that reveal a Ariel Atom to-weight ratio of 600bhp per tonne, is one of the most fun (if not the fastest) cars in the entire game.
Just driving around the city of Fairhaven is a joy, and it really doesn’t take long at all to become familiar with your surroundings. We took a finely tuned Lamborghini Gallardo around the freeway that skirts the edges of the city just for the fun of it, and happily clocked 200mph doing it. While we took this slight break from the races and car-hunting though, we did manage to attract the attention of the local fuzz.
As one of the ‘most wanted’ you’ll quickly get spotted by police, especially if you’re breaking the speed limit in such a spectacular fashion. And they’re smart, too. While you’ll easily outrun then in an Atom, most other street cars will have more of a fight on their hands. The police radio accurately reports the chase (even going so far as to announce when you’ve changed the color of your vehicle in one of the drive-through garages), and as your most wanted level increases, then so does the heat. One of the most pleasurable moments we’ve had in gaming for quite some time involved neatly swerving through a police road-block and then speeding past a stinger with around half-a-dozen police cars giving chase. We handbrake-turned up a slope and then took off from a ramp, clearing a building and losing the police heat entirely. It took enormous amounts of self-control not to pause the game and do a lap of honor around the office after that.
If you have even the most passing of interests in driving games, then Most Wanted is still an essential purchase. Aside from possibly Codemasters and Turn 10, there’s no-one in the gaming world who understands driving games as well as Criterion and we would say that Most Wanted is unarguably their greatest work yet.