Review

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox360)

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted delivers fast-paced, thrilling racing action that driving fanatics are sure to enjoy, but more casual racers will most likely find a little difficult to master. If you’re looking for an exhilarating driving game to invest your time in, look no further than Most Wanted, a polished title that will keep you playing for just one more race.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Screenshot 4

Most Wanted delivers an addictive gameplay experience that offers seamless racing and enough variety to keep you entertained for many hours. Driving around the city of Fairhaven is reward in itself, crashing through billboards, hurtling through speed cameras, and just generally causing havoc on the streets is remarkably fun. You’ll also be able to discover over 40 stylish cars dotted throughout the city and put them through their paces, if you see a new car that you’d like to try just drive up to it and jump in because they’re all available from the beginning of the game.

You’ll need to compete in races to unlock customisation options for each car, and you’re going to need to customise your car if you want to win races, earn even more upgrades, and outrun the police. The races, which are divided into easy, medium and hard, could range from finishing in the top three of a race to evading the police. Then there’s the Most Wanted challenges where you’ll need to beat 10 of the Most Wanted cars in order to earn that car and move up the Most Wanted list.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Screenshot 4

Moving between the different races is very simple, select a race and set it as your new destination by using the D-pad. You can then follow the mini-map in the bottom left corner to find the race, but be wary of running any red traffic lights on the way there because the cops can be quite pesky to get rid of and you can’t start a race if they’re chasing you! You can also retry the last event you have selected easily, a key feature since many of the challenges are difficult and will take you more than one attempt to overcome them successfully.

To win races you’ll need to customise your car with the upgrades you earn. Using these upgrades you’ll be able to customise your tyres, nitrous, chassis, body and transmission, improving the performance of your car. Each car requires the upgrades to be unlocked, so you’ll need to complete the races for each car to upgrade it, something worth investing your time in to make sure that each car is optimally upgraded for different races.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Screenshot 1

The police are just as serious about taking you down in Most Wanted as they were in Hot Pursuit, they will call in support, set up roadblocks, deploy spike strips and even try to ram you off the road. Some of the pursuits I’ve had have lasted for over 15 minutes, giving you a real sense of accomplishment if you manage to evade the pursuit and earning you lots of Speed Points in the process too. All of these encounters with the police, oncoming traffic and opponents will mean plenty of damage to the beautiful car you’re driving. Simply drive through a garage to get your car repaired and get a new paint job at the same time, which can also be pretty handy at getting the police off your trail.

Speed Points can be earned by racing through speed cameras, avoiding roadblocks, taking out opponents and more – basically if you’re out on the road starting trouble you will be earning Speed Points. Once you’ve earned enough Speed Points you’ll be able to face off against the list of Most Wanted cars. Autolog makes a welcome return, with the competitive social system enabling you to keep track of how your friends have been performing in the game, and now with Autolog 2 it will recommend gameplay challenges within both singleplayer and multiplayer.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Screenshot 3

The open-world environment of Most Wanted is wonderful to explore, its massive size ranges from open stretches of road outside the city to the busy streets of the city centre. There’s always something to explore, whether it’s locating more billboards to smash through or gates to crash open, Most Wanted will offer a serious challenge to completionists.

The game’s environments are meticulously created, and the beauty of your surroundings doesn’t go unnoticed, even when you’re tearing through the different areas at high speeds. Another aspect of the game that is superb is the sound, the roaring of your engine as it changes gears, the acoustics as you drive through a tunnel, and the radio chatter of the police as you speed away all add to the gameplay. Combine this with a rocking soundtrack, and one that’s easy to change between tracks with the tap of a button, and you’ve got a winning formula on your hands.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted Screenshot 4

The multiplayer component of Most Wanted continues to add variety to the game. You’ll be challenged to different events, ranging from scoring the longest single drift or longest billboard jump to achieving the highest speed or competing in team races. Everything in multiplayer is a challenge, whether you’re racing to meet up to start the event, taking down opponents before the event starts, or actually competing in the event, it’s exciting to go up against other racers online.

The option to create a personal speedlist for multiplayer gives you the opportunity to tailor your online experience. You can choose five events (including challenge, race, speedtest and team race), and set restrictions as to what cars you can race as. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised that there are no menus and no lobbies in multiplayer, giving you more time to start trouble and earn Speed Points.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted Screenshot 1

There are very few criticisms I have with Most Wanted, but one of them is a big factor in gameplay. While racing it’s difficult to keep track of your progress on the mini-map, sometimes this may cause you to miss the turn and be left behind in the race. It can be frustrating, although you do get more used to it as you spend more time with the game. The difficulty curve is also another factor to take into account, Most Wanted is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Ultimately this makes the game more challenging to novice racers, but all the more rewarding when you complete the challenge.

With Criterion Games at the helm of the Need for Speed franchise it looks like we’re going to get a combination of ‘something old, something new.’ The development studio has certainly proved that it has what it takes to keep the franchise competitive, continuing the best elements of Need for Speed while introducing new features that made its previous two racing games a success. If you’re looking for a well-rounded racing title Most Wanted won’t disappoint. The city of Fairhaven awaits for you to race, chase and explore…what are you waiting for?


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