OS Scores Explained Need For Speed Most Wanted a Criterion Game Overview (Xbox 360)
Multiplayer is simply a blast; no menus or lobbies whatsoever; gameplay is still solid.
Single player is not that exciting; frustrating and unintelligent A.I.; frame rate issues.
Bottom Line
Most Wanted is a game for people who enjoy multiplayer, specifically challenges, and it does those to almost perfection.
out of 10
Need For Speed Most Wanted a Criterion Game REVIEW

Need For Speed Most Wanted a Criterion Game Review (Xbox 360)

Imagine if Criterion Games took their critically acclaimed game Burnout: Paradise and combined it with the Need for Speed universe and licensed cars. Now, come to the realization that it has happened. More like a mini-sequel -- Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks to have the same highly addicting multiplayer that Burnout: Paradise had, while still maintaining that same gameplay the NFS franchise is known for.
Most Wanted

There's not really a story taking place in the city of Fairhaven, but there is one primary goal: take down and defeat every driver on the Most Wanted list. There are 10 drivers you need to take down to become the Most Wanted driver. Completing the main path will take only about 6-8 hours, although if you try and complete every single event in the game, it will take roughly three or four times that.

Criterion has decided to change the way progression and unlocking in racing games is handled. Virtually every car in the game is available from the beginning. The only catch is you have to find them via jack spots. Hidden around Fairhaven are vehicles, once you ram into them, they are yours to keep. That is also how you unlock more events and mods, with each new car having five new races for you to compete in and new mods for that specific vehicle.

Speed Points are earned for winning races, completing Autolog recommendations, and various other objectives. SP is what will dictate when you can go one-on-one with the next Most Wanted driver, your online level and what cars you will unlock in multiplayer.
Each new car also has the exact same upgrades, but once you switch to a car you have never driven in, it's bare -- not even nitrous! So if you want to build each car up, you have to win all five races that comes with them.

Autolog returns in the form of Autolog 2.0. The classic "Autolog Recommends" is just like its name and recommends you events or challenges you can complete to help you earn more speed points. Every time you run through a speed camera, drive through a security gate or billboard, a leaderboard shows up letting you know where you stand among your friends. Criterion is big on asynchronous, social gameplay, and they continue, and achieve that, this time around

Cops are back, and honestly, they don't need to be. There is no real punishment if you get busted since no type of currency is in the game. They don't take away your speed points, either ,which if they did, would add some incentive for you to try and evade them. Instead, if you get busted, you simply get taken back to where you originally found the car.

There are other problems with the cops. During races, they are always chasing you. It seems as though with every race the cops have it in for you; they only go after you, not the other racers. I understand that they need to go after the actual human player, but there is no need for cops to turn around on a road just to go after me when there are other racers competing. Also, the way the cops set up their road blocks and spike strips in Most Wanted events are all scripted. No matter how many times you attempt those races, the cops will always be in the exact same spot.

Although the single player structure is rather stiff and uninspiring, the core gameplay is still fun and rewarding. Drifting is as easy as tapping the brake and cars handle very similar to past Burnout games. Even the Ford F-150 Raptor pick-up truck handles well enough to get the job done.

One of the best things about NFS: Most Wanted is the fact that there are no menus. The d-pad is how you decide what you want you to do, which they call "EasyDrive." Jumping into multiplayer is easy as hitting the d-pad once and scrolling down. Changing cars and accessing races is just as easy. It does a great job of keeping the gameplay uninterrupted, and it's something that is incredible to use.

A.I. is, at times, intelligent enough to try and take you down when you try to pass them. But there are also times where they go crazy and run into a wall for no apparent reason. The rubberbanding A.I. is also extremely noticeable and brutal. That seems to be the case for almost every Need for Speed game, though. That doesn't make it excusable, however. If an opponent wrecks, it takes them almost no time to catch back up to you. Adding more challenge is one thing, but if you take down another driver you should be rewarded with some time in the front of the pack, not have that same driver on your bumper five seconds later.

Crashes become more of a hassle than anything, not to mention they are very inconsistent. You can freely slam into a cop car with no consequence, but sometimes if you even barely scrape a wall or a civilian car, you will crash. I say sometimes because there are times when you run directly into a wall and nothing happens to you, the car just keeps going. The crashes make sense in a Burnout game because they don't have real-life cars, so they look a lot better. But since NFS does have real car manufacturers, the crashes never look particularly good and take time away from the event and free roaming.

Frame rate issues, specifically frame rate drops, occur at times. Usually when going barreling by a road block or sometimes just cruising around the city, you'll see the game lose some frames and hitch up for about two or three seconds. It's nothing that will make the game unplayable, but it is, at times, noticeable.

If you own a Kinect or PlayStation Move, both are supported. The Kinect can be used to tell the game where you want to go and if you want to turn the car's engine on or off. It can not be used to drive around the world, only for voice recognition. If you want to bring up EasyDrive instead of using the d-pad, you can. It seems like developers are using Kinect for voice recognition more than gameplay enhancements, and honestly, we're fine with that. As for the PS Move, you would need the move controller and the racing wheel accessory. It's used, obviously, for you driving around the game and the ball at the end even lights up when you're being chased by cops.

Even with the lackluster single player surrounding it, the gameplay is still fun for the most part. The cops are a definite pain, but the races that they are not in are insanely entertaining. Criterion knows how to make cars feel just right and that's no different in their version of Most Wanted. If cops were not included, the gameplay would almost be perfect. Even with them, though, it's still a well-rounded experience -- especially in the multiplayer.
Open World

In Criterion's last Need for Speed game, Hot Pursuit, you could only roam around in the city featured in the game. That's changed with Most Wanted, everything takes place within the open world mechanic.

In Most Wanted, billboard signs (156 in total), security gates (135), and speed cameras (66) are included for you to smash through. The billboards are a little different this time, however. Now, when cruising around the map you'll see various EA development studios like Visceral Games and Bioware. Those are the new billboards you have to drive through. After you and friends have smashed them, whoever had the highest jump will have their gamer picture on that billboard. After destroying it for a second time with bigger air, you get to 1-up your friends and some extra speed points.

As mentioned previously, the "EasyDrive" mechanic is simply amazing to use. Not having to wait for menus or lobbies and just jump straight into a multiplayer game is fantastic. Not only that, but host migration is included online. So if the host decides they have had enough, the game will just go right in to migrating for a new host with the game not even stopping.

Cars and mods unlocked in the single player do not actually carry over to online play -- only speed points and the discovery items like billboards and security gates do. Online, cars are obtained by gaining levels. Since speed point carry over to multiplayer, and vice versa, if you beat the single player, you'll have more than enough points to unlock cars. You earn mods for cars (off-road tires, lighter chasis, etc.) via challenges. Those challenges are usually drifting a certain amount, jumping a certain amount, and so on.

Speedlists are at the core of the online play. You can make a custom one if you are inclined, but if joining a public game will have one set up with five events that are meant to be played back-to-back. The goal is to finish all five events with the highest score. All five won't necessarily be races, some will require you to jump a gap or drift around a certain object. The fact that there is variety with the speedlist is what makes playing them so enjoyable. Whether it be with friends or random people, the pure entertainment and amusement from the online and the speedlists is something everybody will come to love.

Before those challenges or events start, you're asked to drive to the meet up point. Once everybody is there, the event begins. This makes sure everybody is ready and knows what they are doing. If it takes too long for a person to drive to the meet up spot, the game will eventually teleport them to the location. In a race or team race, there is no starting grid, you simply go once the countdown timer hits zero. When in team races, you can spot other drivers, like in the Battlefield first-person shooter games. It's there to essentially let your teammates know exactly where the opponents are.
When in a speedtest, if you take down an opponent, or vice versa, you are eliminated from said speedtest. So if it's a jump and you only land a 50-yard jump, and then get taken down, you can no longer improve your jump length. It makes it way more competitive, and it doesn't actually make them frustrating to play. Challenges are simply co-op challenges that everybody must at least compete in for you to finish. Races and team races rally out the four different events. That might not seem like a lot but after hours of playing online, the challenges and speedtests vary enough to keep you entertained.

There are other mods that are similar to perks in first-person shooting games. None of them come into play until after you have been crashed by another human driver. They range from unlimited nitrous for 30 seconds all the way to one-touch takedowns for 30 seconds.

The single player will only appeal to a certain audience. Meanwhile, the multiplayer of Most Wanted is something that can appeal to just about everyone. No matter how good you are at racing games, there is enough variety in the event types to keep you playing for hours on end. It's just as addicting as the online in Burnout: Paradise, and we will gladly welcome that.
Final Thoughts

Some people might think putting what was great in Burnout: Paradise into the Need for Speed world might make that formula stale. But that's far from the truth when it comes to the open world. The single player is nothing to write home about, but Criterion does an outstanding job at capturing the NFS open-world vibe while still letting people know that Burnout is their bread-and-butter franchise. The gameplay is still top notch, even if it's mostly surrounded by the non-exciting single player. Take that gameplay online and it's two completely different games. The amount of hours of fun you'll have in the multiplayer is actually enough to keep me wanting to play the game every day. If you are a fan of single player racing games and not multiplayer ones, Forza Horizon is what you should buy this holiday season.

Learning Curve: Fans of the Need for Speed series will easily know how to control the cars. Even if you're new to arcade racing games, after the first race, the controls and handling start to feel natural -- so there's little-to-no learning curve.

Control Scheme: Some of the most intuitive controls featured in a racing game. Much like Burnout: Paradise, no menus are featured. Instead, the d-pad is what takes you from race to race and to the multiplayer -- making it much easier to navigate around the world.

Visuals: Each car, from a Porsche 911 to a Chevrolet Corvette, all look like their real-life counterparts. The intros before a race looks stunning and they provide for a great transition effect. The overall visual package is a gritty and urban. It's not as vibrant as Forza Horizon, but it's still beautiful to look at. There are times where it becomes distracting when looking at some of the scenery in the game. Fairhaven might be a fictional city, but it's actually one we would still love to visit (minus the problems with frame rate).

Audio: A pretty diverse and awesome soundtrack; featuring artists like T.I., Avenged Sevenfold, Lupe Fiasco, The Who, Green day, and many others. If they don't appeal to you, there is an option to use a custom soundtrack. The voice acting does enough to not get annoying, and of course, each car sounds great.

Customization: After winning a race you unlock new mods for your car, from new tires to a new transmission. Each one helps make your car a little faster or handle better. You can also change the color of your car by simply driving through a repair shop. All of that is also included in the multiplayer portion.

Value: The value depends on what side of the fence you fall on. If you're a person who only enjoy the single player portion of racing games, Need for Speed: Most Wanted might not be for you. The single player doesn't last all that long, even with the various items you can discover. However, if you played hours of the multiplayer in Burnout: Paradise, Most Wanted is the perfect game for you. That said, no matter what you like, the gameplay is still as great as it ever was.

Score: 7.5 (Good)

Need For Speed Most Wanted a Criterion Game Videos
Member Comments
# 1 StL_RamZ @ 11/07/12 11:59 AM
I bought it the Tuesday it was released and I've been trying to sell it since then. No one wants it =[
# 2 Dos_Santos @ 11/07/12 12:47 PM
Originally Posted by StL_RamZ
I bought it the Tuesday it was released and I've been trying to sell it since then. No one wants it =[

Do craigslist.

I was able to get $45 for mine and I will do a price adjustment on Best Buy's Black Friday.
# 3 StL_RamZ @ 11/07/12 03:21 PM
Originally Posted by Dos_Santos
Do craigslist.

I was able to get $45 for mine and I will do a price adjustment on Best Buy's Black Friday.
Posted it several times on Craigslist $40 lol still nothing
# 4 Dos_Santos @ 11/07/12 04:07 PM
Originally Posted by StL_RamZ
Posted it several times on Craigslist $40 lol still nothing

Then just trade it in at Best Buy. You can get $36 right now and $37.80 if you are unlocked.
# 5 DickDalewood @ 11/07/12 05:30 PM
My sports game of the year. Absolutely awesome experience from sound to graphics to gameplay.

One of the best and most fun racing games I've played in years.

I disagree with the knock on single player. IMO it's exactly what it should be... racing, and collecting cars. Add in beating your friends times and jumps, and there is just endless replay value to be had.
# 6 Panicshade @ 11/07/12 05:49 PM
I think the game is great. Yet another Criterion arcade racer added to my collection. It took a little getting used to with how the game is structured at first but once you get the hang of it it is simple to hop from one car to another to do the events, find the gates & billboards, or just roam around looking for the other cars to drive.

Also seeing other people's Gamerpics/Avatars around "your city" makes you want to clear them out of there by beating their event times, speeds, or jump distances. You always want to try and go that 1 second better or jump that one further yard.

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