By MATT BLAIR
The reboot of the “Need for Speed: Most Wanted,” developed by Criterion Games, delivers high-octane, fast and furious arcade style racing in a beautifully rendered environment, but, unfortunately, is missing some features and game modes.
The new “Most Wanted” video game released on Oct. 30 is EA Sports’ attempt to breathe new life into its racing game franchise that has seen dismal sales and falling popularity due to the poor reception of the last few “Need for Speed” titles.
“Most Wanted” is set in the fictional city of Fairhaven, and the object of the single-player campaign is to gain enough points to qualify to race against a top ten list of “Most Wanted” drivers. Players will primarily earn points by winning races, but can also earn them by completing various in-game objectives, such as smashing through billboards and security fences, or by speeding past traffic cameras.
Unlike some racing games where players are only able to drive on a racetrack, “Most Wanted” features an open-world environment. The entire city of Fairhaven is available for exploration from the beginning of the game.
Also, for the first time in “Need for Speed” history, almost all of the featured cars are available to players at the start. However, the cars can only be driven after the player finds them parked in various locations around the city called “jackspots.” This is a change from previous “Need for Speed” games, which required players to achieve a certain level before unlocking areas of a city and new cars.
Since “Most Wanted” is an open-world environment, players are mostly free to explore the city as they choose. While driving around Fairhaven and through traffic, players will navigate through tight and technical downtown streets, long stretches of highways and off-road areas.
“Most Wanted” also features a wide range of vehicles for players to drive, including exotic supercars like the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, luxury SUVs and American muscle cars, like the Corvette ZR1. There are 32 different cars available to players from the start of the game, and 10 more are available once the “Most Wanted” driver is defeated.
Each car has its own set of five races, and winning races unlocks upgrades for that specific car. The races are all similar, usually involving driving between checkpoints as quickly as possible, evading a police pursuit within a set amount of time or completing a few laps of a circuit course.
The driving mechanics are not as technical as simulation-style racing games like “Forza Motorsports” or “Gran Turismo,” but do require more skill and controller manipulation than arcade-style racing games, such as “Mario Kart” or “Burnout.”
The single-player campaign is short and can be finished within several hours of dedicated gameplay. However, the multiplayer online mode allows players to continue racing new challenges and challengers without having to restart the game.
There are a few features of previous “Need for Speed” games that are not included in the new “Most Wanted.” In previous games, players were able to personalize each car they owned with customized paint jobs, body kits and stickers or graphics. There is no option for such customization in the new “Most Wanted.”
The Police Pursuit mode, where players are the police, tasked with busting street racers, is gone. Also, a deviation from the previous “Need for Speed” games is that there is almost no penalty for being busted by the police.
The reboot of “Most Wanted” is a welcome and necessary change for EA Sports if they want to stay competitive with other racing game juggernauts like “Forza Motorsports” and “Gran Turismo.”
The lack of car personalization, a short single-player campaign and limited car list might cause gamers to stay away from buying the title, but there is always the possibility of renewing some of the missing features and modes of the game with downloadable content.