PS3 Reviews: Need For Speed: Most Wanted Review

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Need For Speed: Most Wanted Review

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Graphics:

 

8.7

Gameplay:

 

9.1

Sound:

 

8.8

Control:

 

8.6

Replay Value:

 

9.0

Online Gameplay:

 

9.2

Overall Rating:       8.9

 

 

Publisher:

EA

Developer:

Criterion Games

Number Of Players:

1-8

Genre:

Racing

Release Date:

October 30, 2012

Need for Speed is back. After a lackluster installment last year (The Run just didn’t live up to the franchise’s usual high standards), the racing gurus at Criterion Games have delivered a gem that fans of the long-running series can really sink their teeth into. …yes, I’m being grammatically incorrect because saying “into which the fans can really sink their teeth” just sounds weird. Anywho, welcome to Fairhaven, where the most wanted racers await your challenge and the cops are lurking, just waiting to bust your thrill-seeking ass.

The graphics are quite nice, especially considering the sheer size and scope of the city in question. There’s a lot of eye-popping detail and a ton of awesome special effects that accompany your more reckless driving; smashing through billboards or bouncing off other cars is always visually satisfying to the nth degree. The urban landscape is mostly bright with the exception of a few darker, more industrial areas and the overall palette and design is fantastic. It’s not quite as crisp as some other top-tier productions, but it’s pretty damn impressive through and through.

Thanks to a diverse soundtrack, crackling audio effects, and a smooth-voiced narrator that introduces you to the high-speed world of street racing, the sound is a definite high point. The balance can suffer depending on the situation but such miscues are rare and hardly condemnable. I’m not the biggest fan of the music selections on this soundtrack but that’s a purely subjective assessment. The bottom line is that there is a solid variety of songs and the pseudo-realistic growls of the many different engines you’ll hear is a pleasure to the gearhead’s ears. The gameplay will keep you riveted while the technical elements appropriately enhance the experience at almost every turn (pun intended).

Many have compared Need for Speed: Most Wanted to Burnout Paradise and rightfully so, as we have an open-world environment to explore. However, it might not be 100% accurate to call the latest from Criterion “Burnout Paradise 2,” because there is a distinct NFS flair. Those who recall the excellent Hot Pursuit from 2010 will remember this style of driving, as it’s not entirely arcade-y and it can’t qualify as simulation. This blend is great because it requires a fair amount of attention and practice and yet, the learning curve isn’t too steep. Hence, both hardcore and casual gamers can get a lot of mileage out of this one.

You start off in a nifty Porsche, which is a very capable car. But you’ll soon learn that you don’t need to stick with the Porsche; in fact, it’d be silly not to experiment, as there are no less than 123 “jack points” scattered throughout Fairhaven. To try out a new ride, simply locate one of those jack points, drive up, and switch cars. The cool part? You don’t have to remember exactly where you found that particular vehicle; after locating it, you can switch to it at any time via the simple in-game menu. You can also customize your car, select races, and challenge the Most Wanted racers with that menu, which makes the game incredibly streamlined.

It’s just so user-friendly. If you finish a race and you aren’t happy with the result, you don’t have to drive all the way back to the start point. Just open up the EasyDrive menu (which isn’t a hindrance to the on-screen display at all) and try the event again. If you’re not enamored with your current car, either drive around and find a new one or just check the list of available cars you’ve already found. If you do like your vehicle, go through a series of events – labeled Easy, Medium, and Hard – that will give you useful upgrades, such as Nitrous, Lightweight Chassis, and better tires.

Essentially, this is where the majority of the freedom really lies. The open-world environment certainly encourages exploration, but the true freedom of choice is found in the instant options available. You’re never tied to any one car, you never have to unlock better cars, and in general, you never have to do anything tedious or boring. The result is a madcap, all-out, balls-to-the-wall racing experience that never lets its heavy foot off the throttle. And by the way, if you want to win, you shouldn’t be taking your foot off the throttle too often, either.

As you progress, you will earn speed points, which can be earned by doing well in events and creating havoc all across the city. The crazier you are when outside races, and the better you perform within those races, the more points you will have. The goal is to become the most wanted racer in Fairhaven, and that means taking down the top 10 most wanted. You need a certain number of speed points to challenge each member on the list, so you have to work your way up. After beating them in a special challenge race, you take their spot on the most wanted list. If you want their car, you gotta track ‘em down and take ‘em down.

Cops are a big part of the game, too. However, I should add that I think they’re a little too prominent. Sometimes, when you just want to get to the start of a race, you fly past a speed camera (another way to earn speed points, by the way), and a cop might see it and give chase. Now, this might not be a big deal as you can easily evade the authorities at Heat level 1. But if things go wrong and the Heat level starts to rise, the situation starts to get annoying. At first, it’s fun to try to get away from the cops but after a while, you’re going— “Damnit, just let me get to the freakin’ race!”

The weird part is that there appears to be no consequences for getting busted. There’s obviously a consequence for getting busted during a race but when you’re just driving around being chased, nothing really happens if they catch you. The game just reloads and off you go again. That being said, eluding the cops at higher heat levels will make you more notorious, thereby upping your speed rank faster. So it’s not like there’s no reason to run away but after a while, it definitely gets a little tiring. And while I’m on the subject of small drawbacks, I should probably mention one other irritating factor…I don't like being disoriented.

Too many times during a race, you just don’t know where to go. Most of the time, you have to follow the other competitors just so you have an idea of where and when to turn. It seems like only certain races (like the Most Wanted events) have the green arrows that help direct you; the other events don’t. This translates to a lot of racing and re-racing, just so you can learn the circuit. And because of the more open environment, there are often multiple roads to take, although one of those roads could be the wrong way. In such a structure, I really think we needed those green arrows assisting our driving; otherwise, it’s just a lot of trial and error.

Finally, I’ll say that the game does seem to gravitate more toward the multiplayer realm, in that it’s just far more entertaining if you’ve got a lot of Friends on your Autolog. That being said, playing solo is hardly a shallow experience, as there’s always plenty to do (even if it can feel a little repetitive) and there are tons of vehicles to try. The city’s top-notch design is another huge plus. Just make sure you’ve got at least a few buddies that will join the competition on the Autolog, because that creates a fully realized, fully fleshed-out game that continually rewards the player.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is just fun. Normally, I try to be a bit more elaborate or verbose when it comes to summing up a big game. But I think first and foremost, “fun” was the order of the day when Criterion sat down to make this game. The user-friendly, extraordinarily streamlined presentation, slick technical elements, and emphasis on freedom is all conducive to that little yet all-important three-letter word: F-U-N. It can be a little frustrating due to the numerous and pesky cops, and one too often feels lost when first attempting a race, but most will be more than willing to put up with all that. And why? You guessed it: FUN.

The Good: Tight, pleasing technical presentation. Beautiful overall dseign. Accessible yet challenging control. Very streamlined in all respects. Real feeling of satisfaction. The Autolog makes this game full-on addictive. F-U-N.

The Bad: The cops can get really irritating. Lack of direction in some races. Feels less impressive with fewer Friends.

The Ugly: “Okay, the start point is…right here…I’m turning…*%^&$(!!!!! Hit a cop.”

10/30/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (42 posts)

Killa Tequilla
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 10:22:28 PM
Reply

Nice review Ben! Ooh BTW... Aah... Screw it, I don't want to be "that guy"

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 10:46:53 PM
Reply

So, what kind of deal can a brother get on a good PS3 racing wheel these days?

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 11:00:35 PM

Ive seen the G27' on the cheap, but my buddy has the regular GT racing wheel that's "below" the G27 model and it works perfectly fine, especially with GT5. I think he got it new for like $100.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 12:01:29 AM

Word.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 2:41:31 AM

Or... You could get the move wheel!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 12:04:31 PM

Noooooo!!!!!

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Mr_Sterg
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 4:12:12 PM

Don't get a wheel for this type of game. You don't need it

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 6:00:26 PM

It's advertised on the games box though World!

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 11:34:53 PM

I'd say stick with a wheel on the track races.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 10:59:15 PM
Reply

I just picked up this game, AC3 and Borderlands 2 in Targets buy 2 get 1 deal and I can't wait to play it. It might be the first one opened!

Nice review btw, everything I wanted to hear!

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PoopsMcGee
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 4:07:58 PM

I'm thinking of heading by there myself and getting this, AC liberation and something else that I'll decide on while I'm there (maybe Dishonored?).

Does anyone know how long that sale lasts?

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 5:57:55 PM

I'm pretty sure it will go until this Saturday.

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PoopsMcGee
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 8:19:08 PM

Thanks man.

I'll hit it up tomorrow, I think.

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Gamer46
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 11:07:13 PM
Reply

Well, Forza Horizon was nice filler but now it's time for the real deal. I have to get through AC 3, but NFS: Most Wanted is high on my list of games to play after that.

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Nas Is Like
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 11:33:54 PM
Reply

I'm still irritated that this game's name is Need for Speed: Most Wanted when really, it should be properly re-named to Burnout: Paradise 2.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 11:49:48 PM

Actually its properly named, problem is it should have been a Burnout title. But it appears this game brought it so... But I see where you're coming from.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 10/30/2012 11:50:49 PM

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 12:28:53 AM

You just contradicted yourself.

How is it "properly named" but "should have been a Burnout title"? Doesn't that just prove my point?

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 2:46:04 AM

That's just bad grammar on my part.. The game is properly named as in it's got the qualities we want in a Need for Speed title. But Criterion should have been working on a new Burnout this whole time. That's all I was saying. In some sense I agree with you. I wasn't trying to argue good sir.



Last edited by bigrailer19 on 10/31/2012 2:47:31 AM

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Simcoe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 8:28:41 AM

If it were Burnout: Paradise 2 there'd be flatspins, barrel rolls and epic crashes - there are none of those in this games. There are crashes but their not "epic". I do agree though that there are a lot of common elements from BP, but the critical elements are the three I listed.

I have a "strong feeling" that we will see a new (proper) Burnout (Paradise 2) in 2014 or 2015.

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 12:25:25 AM
Reply

I don't know why they call it Need for Speed: Most Wanted again, their is one already out on the PS2. I'm really just going to call it Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2. Nice review, great score.

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Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 1:37:26 AM

Because it's like a remake of the old game or something. I.believe someone told you this before. Can't remember the article.

Last edited by Killa Tequilla on 10/31/2012 1:51:16 AM

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 1:20:40 PM

Ah I get it, it's Criterion's first Most Wanted game, even though their is already a Most Wanted game but that's developed by EA Black Box.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 10/31/2012 1:21:26 PM

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Beamboom
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 1:46:43 AM
Reply

As far as I understand this game has everything I loved about Burnout Paradise, including the coop challenges. I also love how new cars now are "collectibles" on the playfield instead of unlockables as in Paradise.

This game is just *so* going straight into the synchronized shopping list of my coop buddy and I. Can't wait to get started hunting for billboards, exploring for new cars and having a total blast with him. Quality gaming awaits!


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/31/2012 1:47:47 AM

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 2:46:56 AM

Really it feels like Burnout, with a little more seriousness. Been playing it for a couple hours now and it's as addicting as Burnout was.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 3:40:49 AM

There's some serious quality coop gaming to be found this autumn! Borderlands 2 and NFS Most Wanted in quick succession, it's almost too good to be true. :)

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Simcoe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 8:31:43 AM

While I do miss the barrel rolls and flatspins, it certainly fills the BP void that NFS: HP didn't!

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 10:25:55 AM

Done forget RE6. It's been a great few weeks. Problem is I dont know how I'm going to keep up with it all!

Im not even half done with RE6, and now I got 3 games yesterday (Borderlands 2, AC3, and NFS) during Targets buy 2 get 1. Two of which are coop. Oh boy!

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Beamboom
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 10:42:13 AM

Ah yeah RE6 - I knew I had forgotten a title. Yeah, this is an epic coop autumn.

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___________
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 3:49:30 AM
Reply

such a shame this comes out in such a crowded window really want to get it!
but AC3, forza horizon, halo 4, far cry 3, and hitman absolution hold precedence.
another one to put on the backburner.

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Simcoe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 9:01:49 AM

I don't know if you'd like it blank guy. I think it's 30fps and I think the vehicle handling feels more like Hot Pursuit than Burnout Paradise (maybe 65% HP and 35% BP). But I don't think the controller input is as laggy as HP.

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___________
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 9:41:26 AM

oh please dont tell me that!
the sluggish controls spoiled what was such a awesome game with hot pursuit, i was under the impression they ditched them!
sigh.

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Simcoe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 9:55:26 AM

I think the "sluggishness" is a result of an actual suspension the cars have. In BP, I don't really think the cars really had any kind of suspension system in that regard.

Rent or borrow the game and see if it's still a deal breaker.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 4:16:57 AM
Reply

I want to know how the Vita version stacks up to the consoles. I'm not overly interested in buying NFS:MW at this point, but I'd love to add it to the list of Vita games I intend to buy. :D

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Simcoe
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 8:52:38 AM

I got both versions and played the simgle player game for about an hour each on the PS3 and Vita.

The open world is EXACTLY the same, the cars are same, they handle about the same (it's taking me some time to get used to the Vita's (portable) controls - never had a PSP), billboards, fences/gates, are the same. I've only done a couple but so far the races have been the same.

The graphics seem to be the pretty much the same. And with that lies a bit of a problem. Playing the PS3 game on a 24" monitor or larger TV is great, but image playing the PS3 game on a 5" monitor, that is essentially what the Vita version is. It can be difficult to make out some details on such a small screen and when you're travelling fast, you have less time to react to something that you'd have plenty of time on a much larger screen. I don't feel this is a deal breaker but it does make the game "more difficult" especially when you're not yet familiar with the layout of the open world. Because of this, I believe that Criterion made the decision to have less traffic (other vehicles) in the Vita version, as well as less racers when you do enter into a race. I even also think this is why online is limited to four players.

I have noticed that some of the challenges for the Porsche (first vehicle) are different between the Vita and PS3.

While speed points earned in both games are added together, it is a shame that billboards, gates and car discoveries do not get carried over from one version to the other. I can't really see this being a technical issue but more of a "ran out of time" issue?

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 3:16:19 PM

Thanks for the input. Glad to know that there are no major differences, and I'll definitely keep it in mind now.

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Huey
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 7:49:14 AM
Reply

Don't you just hate it when us cops are so pesky Ben?

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 2:17:06 PM

Huey,

Yeah, but that's only because you're not using the usual Ford, Chevy, & Crysler products in the game, LMAO


Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/31/2012 2:18:28 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 5:03:05 PM

Yes, damn you! :)

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 8:12:05 AM
Reply

Nice review Ben but you already had me sold after your preview. Will play this between ACIIIL sessions which is fantastic by the way! Going to start it up today!

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kraygen
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 9:16:22 AM
Reply

Running from the cops was my favorite thing to do in the xbox/ps2 version so I can't wait to do more of that.

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PHOENIXZERO
Thursday, November 01, 2012 @ 7:27:34 PM
Reply

This and ACIII were two of the three games I bought Tuesday midnight at WalMart with a Target price match, got WM's bonuses as well for both.

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iankhaneagle
Sunday, November 04, 2012 @ 5:28:18 PM
Reply

i will pass. looka like fun but i HATED burnout paradise. if it were more arcade-y i would not mind so much but i cannot stand the open world feel of Paradise. i like being dropped into a race, red/yellow/green...3...2..1...punch it. dont like driving around searching for upgrade garages.

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