Most Wanted is a solid and diverse racing game.
When it comes to racing games, I’m not particularly wooed by those that bill the police chases as a primary feature, so initially I had pretty low expectations for Need for Speed: Most Wanted. That’s not the only reason though, as I’m reviewing it a half decade later the series now has hit a low point it would seem. The general consensus nowadays is that the series has worn its welcome and should take a few years off. Most Wanted seems like a collage of racing games, it doesn’t want to do just one thing, rather it tries to check off as many modes as it can and weave them all into a cohesive single player experience, and it works to a degree.
In my opinion, the reason one would play a Need for Speed game over another arcade style racing game is the story and single player experience. In the game you play as a street racer who has just arrived in a new town and obviously wants to be the best. Well standing in your way is fifteen of the town’s best racers. The top racer here is a pompous racer named Razor. You see first he’s gonna take your ride, then he’s gonna take your girl. The story in the game progresses (at the beginning and end at least) in live-action cut scenes, and the acting is so over the top, it’s easily my favorite part of the game. After the beginning, the story doesn’t progress through cut scenes, rather you have a cell phone with which you receive tips and learn more about your rivals. Since this is the method of informing you about everything after the beginning, it seems like the story just drops off as most of the messages you’ll receive are general tips. There are fifteen racers you must face and it gets severely repetitive towards the end, I just wanted the game to be over as I wasn’t learning anything new about the story or game play, maybe cutting a few racers out would’ve benefitted the game.
The game contains many different racing events; the standard lap racing is present and there is also a variation of this with the lap knockout race, where the person that crosses the line last after each lap is eliminated until there is only one racer. Sprint races task you with getting from point A to point B within the allotted time; drag races are here and are quite fun and give a great sense of speed but the memorization in the races makes these frustrating experiences. There is also tollbooth races which are essentially the sprint races, but with a checkpoint system and no competitors and the speed trap races, where you try to go as fast as you can through checkpoints and your overall speed is tallied up at the end.
To challenge racers on the Blacklist you first need to qualify to face them by completing a set number of races, milestones and accruing a set amount of bounty. Milestones vary from racer to racer like escaping a police pursuit that lasts a set amount of time or hitting a certain number of cop cars.
You get bounty by escaping cop pursuits and this makes up a large portion of the game. The cop chases can get very intense and can be overwhelming towards the end of the game. The more damage and longer you evade increases a gauge that determines the hostility of the cops and the amount and types of cops that will come after you. It’s easily comparable to the wanted system from the Grand Theft Auto games. Also like the GTA games is the open world environment.
The game is set in the fictional city of Rockport. At the beginning you are limited in the amount of the city you can traverse, but as you progress more and more of it is accessible. While you can pick your events through a menu and go to them directly, you also have the option to set a GPS marker on it and drive to it. I took the GPS route early in the game, but really just going through a menu is quick and cuts out the chances of getting into a pursuit when you just want to race.
The developers did many neat tricks in the graphics department with the upgrade in console power. There is bloom lighting in the game which was massively decried at the onset of this generation and in the game it can be overwhelming. When coming out of tunnels, usually the sun will be too bright and you won’t be able to see anything for a second or two and this can be detrimental if you’re in a heated race. The speed lines are great, as are your taillight blurring when using boost and overall the sense of speed is good.
The audio in the game is also well done. The cars sound like they should and in general the voice acting fits the game and there is a good amount of it. The soundtrack I didn’t care for too much, it’s a mix of electronic rock, metal and rap and in my opinion it all sounds kind of nasty, can’t think of a better way to put it. The pursuit music I thought was good and a nice change of pace from the soundtrack; it heightened the intensity of the pursuits. I believe the servers in the game are now offline so I can’t say anything about that but the game does have local multiplayer and tons of stuff to do there and there are also multiple single player modes besides the story including a challenge series which tasks you with completing certain races and objectives.
All in all the game was enjoyable and the story it did have was funny and mildly entertaining. The game plays well and seems like a standard for any competing game to strive for. I enjoyed my time with the game more than I thought I would.