Need For Speed: Most Wanted Preview
Those of you who always wanted a follow-up to 2008’s excellent Burnout Paradise are in for a treat…and don’t be thrown by the fact that “Burnout” is nowhere to be found in the title. There’s no doubt that Criterion’s latest, a reimagining of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, is more like Paradise than any NFS title you’ve played. And you know, that’s not a bad thing. Given the open-world structure, the tried-and-true Autolog, and those patented slo-mo crashes that are always crowd-pleasers, this one is primed to please.
This is really going to focus on the social aspect of racing, in that you will always be trying to one-up your friends for the sake of respect on the streets. The setting is the fictional metropolis of Fairhaven, which will feature 100 miles of various roads, ranging from narrow alleys to industrial districts to wacky ramps. You’ll obviously deal with AI when playing by yourself, but the Autolog will rate everything you do, including race times and top speeds. When trying multiplayer, you’ll be engaged in something even more intense, as you’ll compete in all sorts of events.
It’s not just about racing, either. You’ll be trying to land the longest jump or set the record for the longest drift; in general, just enjoying everything Fairhaven has to offer in terms of vehicular stunt entertainment. And of course, Burnout fans recall those awesome Takedowns, which will be an essential part of Most Wanted. Sometimes it’ll be more effective to stop your opponents than to simply outrace them…and that, obviously, is gonna be wicked fun. Criterion has said they want to infuse this game with plenty of style and nonstop vigor, because they have no desire to produce the same ol’, same ol’. Gotta amp things up.
Part of that philosophy involves giving impatient gamers the fastest cars right off the bat. No more killing yourself to unlock the best vehicles the game has to offer; you’ll be able to sample all sorts of exotic supercars almost immediately after you start playing. No more tooling around the same few courses over and over again with boring cars, slowly increasing in speed until you finally gain access to actual racecars. No, once you discover a car, regardless of how great it is, the car’s position will be marked on the map and you can return to it any time you wish.
Clearly, this will encourage exploration of the city. Now, things change a little when you try multiplayer, as there will be a system of car unlocks via experience points (or in this case, Speed Points). This is similar to other online multiplayer systems, it seems. But overall is the allure of Fairhaven, for single-player and multiplayer fans alike, as the city will offer all sorts of ways to have fun. And if you’ve smashed up one of your favorite rides, just visit a repaint shop and you’ll emerge in no time, good as new. Man, shades of GTA right there…
Need for Speed: Most Wanted should be yet another Criterion gem and we’d expect nothing less. Look to start driving on October 30.
8/6/2012 Ben Dutka