Hot Pursuit+Underground+Burnout=Most Wanted
Need for Speed Most Wanted is the first game in the series to appear on the Xbox 360. I reviewed the game on the original Xbox playing the Black Edition. The game is better then NFS Underground 2 in some ways but it's worse in other ways. They really concentrate on the whole story thing in Most Wanted. They dabbled in it a little in NFSU2 with the Brooke Burke hosted comic book style story but in this game it's full motion video "real time esque" actors. They put some filter over the video that makes it look like you're still in a video game and not watching a movie. Some of it is dumb but it's kinda interesting. The most annoying thing is every time the game starts up there is this stupid message about driving safe from the hot chick who's your "girl" in the game. She looks so annoying in her damned sports bra lol
There's a good selection of cars in this game, tuners, exotics, and some luxury cars. One of the things that disappoints me is where's the Skyline and Civic? Those are standard tuner cars and the most popular IMO. And why the hell are there so many frickin Audis?? There's like 4 different ones! EA kind of dropped the ball there but they do have enough cool cars to make up for it. It's nice you can even put body kits on the exotics. You couldn't do that in Midnight Club III and I don't think it's been done in any other games. I'm also a little disappointed about the amount of customization of your car. In NFSU2 there were tons of parts to buy for your car. Now there are only 5 body kits for each car, maybe 20 spoilers (not counting carbon fiber ones as different parts), 40 roof scoops, 30 hoods, 50 rims. It's nice that each body kit is different for each car but I like being able to pick and choose my front/rear bumpers, side kits and fender kits like you could before. I'm not too big on rims. I could care less about spinners, neon, graphics and stuff but I love the way the cars look with the body kits. They seemed to cut down on the whole tuning part of the game and instead put in the cops and the blacklist system.
You start out driving a BMW M3 GTR (the one on the cover) and you race Razor Callahan (whom you've probably heard the GS crew talk about quite a bit) He has a black Mustang GT. There is a cutscene where you're racing him and some cops show up. Then you jump right into the race, but you can't win since it's part of the story. The story flashes back and you race a couple fools with your BMW and can smoke them easily. Then it goes back to the Razor race and someone sabotaged your car. Razor wins it from you and uses it to become the #1 spot on the Blacklist. Your goal in the career mode is to get to the #1 spot and beat Razor.
The Blacklist is a list of 15 of the top racers in the city. As you go up the list each one has a higher "bounty" with the cops. Meaning you're a wanted man with the police, and the #1 spot is the "Most Wanted." Before you jump into challenging each blacklist racer you have to earn the chance to challenge them. Each racer sends you a list of requirements before you can race em. You have to win a number of race events (sprint, circuit, drag, tollbooth, knockout or speedtrap). Sprint is a race from one point to another, there are no laps. Circuit is your standard lapped race. Drag is a drag race where you have to concentrate on shifting and avoiding obstacles. All of these are the same as in NFSU2 but the drag is much improved and much easier. Lap Knockout is like the Circuit race but after every lap the last place car is eliminated. Tollbooth is basically a time attack mode (easy as hell) and Speedtrap is a race to see who gets the highest total top speed. You could be in 4th place and have the highest top speed and still win.
Once you complete the race events, then you have to achieve a number of milestones. These relate to the pursuit mode. Some examples are hit a minimum of 4 cops with your vehicle (known as trading paint), run through 2 roadblocks, evade a pursuit in less then 4 minutes, achieve 25,000 bounty in a pursuit, etc. Then the last requirement is to achieve a set amount of bounty. Bounty is earned in the pursuit mode. The more damage you cause, the more heat you earn and the longer the pursuit lasts, the more bounty you earn. Heat is kind of like the star system in Grand Theft Auto. Each star adds a level of police resistance. The highest you can get in a race is 5 but the very last race is a level 6. Bounty is the price you're worth to the cops.
So after you've reached the requirements to challenge a blacklister you race them in several events. Usually Sprint or Circuit but sometimes you have to do a Speedtrap or a Drag race. When the races start they begin with a cool little real time cutscene with some dramatic elements as your opponent shows up to the start line. I like these more then the videos with all the real live actors. Once you beat them in all events you have the chance to win their car. Yes, it's only a chance. This is the main thing that pisses me off. You put your pink slips on the line but if the computer loses, they still have a chance to keep their car. You have to play a little minigame (if you want to call it that) and pick 2 of 3 markers. They will either be the pink slip, a get out of jail free card or a get out of impound lot card. If you pick the wrong ones you have to do the whole thing over if you want to win the blacklister's car. (trust me, you do). I've had to re-do races several times for this reason. If you are lucky and pick the right one on the first try, I suggest using your other maker for some unique performance upgrades known as Junkman Parts. I was able to get almost all of them and equip them to my Lamborghini and I beat the game with that car.
So once you've beaten them you move up on the blacklist. Then the races get a little harder and you have more race events and milestones to achieve before challenging the next dude. Luckily you unlock new parts, visual upgrades and performance upgrades with each blacklist racer beaten. You will want to upgrade your performance parts each time new ones are unlocked cause you'll need them. The first 10 or so blacklisters are pretty easy. Once you get to number 5, however, the game starts to get difficult. The Challenge races aren't too bad but the Pursuit Mode gets insanely hard if you don't know what you're doing. It really sucks to be in a pursuit for 10 minutes only to have a Rhino charge in at you and get busted. It's happened to me several times.
Overall this is a great game. I played the Xbox version so I'm sure the 360 version has much better graphics but they look good enough for me. A lot better then NFSU2. One thing to note is that there is no night time racing. It's all during the day. It makes it much easier to see, which is nice, but there is still rain that shows up out of nowhere and disappears just as quick. The sound is great but the music sucks. Each car has a distinct sound to their engines. And when you upgrade them it changes. My fav is the old school muscle car sound of the Ford Mustang GT. The music is the crappy EA trax as seen in other games. I turned them all off. I don't think this supports custom soundtracks but if it does I haven't found the option for it. The Black Edition is only worth it if you want to use a 67 Chevy Camaro or the BMW M3 in Quick Race mode. It also has some specially tuned cars you can use in the quick race mode but there are no bonuses for the career mode except for a few unique vinyls. The DVD that comes with the Black Edition is a huge disappointment. I was under the impression that it had a history of Need for Speed feature but it's just a behind the scenes look at the game. I recommend going with the regular version of the game which is now priced at an affordable $19.99 at all major retailers. Definitely pick this up if you're a racing fan.