Need For Speed Most Wanted REVIEW

Need For Speed Most Wanted Review (Xbox)

A few years back, the developers of the Need for Speed series decide to go down the road of illegal street racing. The series focused on customizable cars and trying to climb up the underground circuit of street racing. However, illegal street racing needs one thing to make it interesting, a little army of "bacon" to try and keep you from racing. So, Electronic Arts brings us Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and its in the title, you want to not only beat up on the other street racers, but you want to impress them with how much you can taunt the cops. Does this new edition enhance the NFS series or should we just leave this in the chop shop?

The game’s career mode starts out with your character having been challenged to a race with a guy named Razor. It’s a pink slip match, so the loser has to give up his car. Well, during the race, you realize that he’s screwed with your car, and he wins the race as you are unable to finish. An unknown woman named Mia comes to your aid and tells you how you can get your car back. You now have to climb up the street racing ladder known as the “Blacklist”. Before you can challenge each racer on the blacklist, they make you meet certain milestones before you are given the honor of racing them for their car. Milestones are achieved by winning a certain amount of races and engaging the cops for a certain amount of “wanted” time. Races in this game are circuit races (laps), sprint races (point A to point B), and checkpoint races where you have to hit each checkpoint in a certain amount of time or your race ends. Don’t worry if you get too far behind, because you will be able to catch up to your opponents no matter how far behind you trail. I hate it when games allow me to catch up after I’ve spun out twice in the same race, but that's what happens in Most Wanted.

The driving mode in the game hasn’t changed at all from previous iterations. It's your typical arcade racer - where you can take turns that are not physically possible - but they sure are fun to perform. Your engine won’t overheat, you can’t run out of gas, and your car won’t fall apart - no matter how badly you screw it up. During the career mode, you're able to earn cash, which can buy visual or performance mods to your car. Visual mods are basically for eye candy only - although some of them can also fool the cops for a short time. Performance mods are your typical racing fare; engines, brakes, shocks, turbo, nitrous - all are available for purchase at different levels of performance. Many of these mods cannot be bought until you reach a certain level on the blacklist.

Being chased by the cops is probably the most enjoyable part of the game. One squad car will begin on you, but as you resist, you might find 20 cars giving chase, in addition to a chopper flying overhead. Losing the cops gets tougher as your "heat" level rises. Level one "heat" results in the appearance of your standard black-and-whites on the scene. But by the time you get up to level five, you'll be dealing with roadblocks, spike strips, helicopters, and los federales in Corvettes. A meter at the bottom of the screen indicates how close you are to losing the cops or getting busted. Stopping your car - or having it stopped for you by either spike strips or by getting completely boxed in by cops - is how you'll get busted. To actually get away, you'll need to get out of visual range... and stay there. The initial evasion changes the meter over to a "cool down" meter. You'll have to lie low and wait for that meter to fill up to end the chase. This is probably the most tense part of the entire chase, since you never know when two cops might blow around the corner and spot you, starting the whole process over again.

Aside from the career mode, there's also a challenge series that gives you both a car and a specific goal. Race goals are fairly easy to understand, but the pursuit challenges ask you to achieve specific milestones, like blasting through five roadblocks or racking up a specific amount of property damage. You can also just dive into quick races, or on the Xbox, you can go online. The online game is focused strictly on racing, which offers sprint, circuit, and drag races for up to four players, and it keeps an online version of the Blacklist going so you can see who the most dangerous online opponent is. Players can create their own games and specify a disconnection or "did not finish" percentage, letting you manually weed out the jerks.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted's graphics are, well, middle of the road. The cars in the game look great, as do certain part of the cities that you travel through. However, there is no depth to the scene - I would like to see some detail for structures off in the distance. Cars do not take on any substantial damage no matter how many times you ram through a police roadblock. The game’s sound is top-notch, however. Each engine sounds different, and that sound will also change when you upgrade what is under the hood. When you are being chased by the police, you will be able to pick up on their conversations with the police switchboard, and that adds a great bit of fun to the game. Other players in the game will also communicate with your verbally and you will be able to tell which player it is instantly.

Those returning to the Need for Speed series will find the same racer as they are accustomed to. However, the police aspect in this game makes it refreshing and “new” to the gamer. For those of us that fantasize about toying with the cops, but really don’t want to share a prison cell with "Big Jerome", Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a game you'll like.

Need For Speed Most Wanted Score
out of 10
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