Need for Speed Most Wanted Review

Developer: EA Canada Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 15, 2005 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360

Last year’s Need for Speed Underground 2 was largely criticized by the gaming media for its open-world environment that left gamers driving from one race event to the other. I personally loved the idea of free-roaming a vast city, challenging racers on the streets and visiting shops. The only thing that was missing was going through a Burger King drive-thru, which you could do too actually, but no fries or burger. Need for Speed Most Wanted builds upon a proven system of success, allowing gamers to free-roam the city while giving them the option of direct races through the menu.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

One of the problems that I had with NFSU2 was finding a reason to complete the game. Need for Speed Most Wanted gives you that incentive in the Blacklist. You try to move up the Blacklist by beating the racers above you until you reach the top. Like its predecessor Most Wanted features a large city to explore at your leisure or at your peril. Most Wanted includes the men in blue once again, bringing the series back to the days of Hot Pursuit 2. You’ll need to evade the cops as you make your way up the Blacklist. By challenging the people on the Blacklist, you’ll possibly earn their car and move up.

Whereas you were ‘boxed in’ in Need for Speed Underground 2, Most Wanted allows gamers to roam more openly, across fields, golf courses, parking lots, and docks. The sense of expansiveness is there and it can take several minutes to travel from one side of the city to the other, once all areas of the city are unlocked. According to the developers, it’s roughly double the size of Underground 2. Including shortcuts and side-routes, this is surely larger than Underground 2, but twice its size is an exaggeration.

It comes as no surprise that the police will play a major new role in this version of the Need for Speed series. The development team was sure to let us know that this is one of the few games these days that actually has a ‘game over’. You have to suck really bad to get there, but if your car gets impounded three times and you have no more vehicles, you’re out of luck. Thankfully impounds are an infrequent event as the result of a mishandled car chase where you end up boxed in by cops.

The central idea of Most Wanted is not running from cops though, it’s still racing. The cops aspect of it is just a nice little diversion that adds to the overall experience. Being that racing is still the primary focus of the game; there are many race types from which you’ll have the option of racing. To challenge someone on the Blacklist, you’ll need a certain number of race wins and for lack of a better word, street cred.

The race types are as fun as ever with a 3-lap circuit, knockout, sprint, and drag, among several new types. My personal favorite new race mode is the tollbooth. Basically there’s nothing new here to racing games. Just replace your traditional check-point racing with a tollbooth and you get the idea. In the land of Most Wanted though, these land you on highways packed with curves and possible obstructions like cars and semis. Another new race type basically has several checkpoints that record your speed at a particular spot. These speeds are added together with the highest total being the winner.

Now that we’ve talked about the race events, let’s talk a little more about the police involvement in the game. The chases themselves can last several minutes. I’ve seen them go on for more than five minutes. The police will call in assistance the more you bash their squad cars and the more destruction you cause. Obviously, with more police on-screen, the higher the likelihood you’ll be caught. Their means of capturing you is surrounding your car and then boxing you in. They will also lay spike strips, create road blocks and send a helicopter for recon.

You can find yourself in a police chase either during the middle of a race, in which you’ll need to escape from their pursuit at the end of the race, or while free-roaming. If you find yourself in a police chase, you won’t have access to events on the map. Electronic Arts Canada was sure to keep you white-knuckled as you fight for the right to your vehicle. Remember, if your car gets impounded, there are penalties. It’s going to cost you cash for each expense you cause the city. EA Canada assists in your attempt to run from the law by adding Pursuit Breakers, which act as a destructible object that will impede the progress of the police by falling on their cruisers. In order to lower the risk of being caught, you’ll need to ‘cool down’ your car in the safe house by switching vehicles.

As far as graphics are concerned, Need for Speed Most Wanted is one of the most visually appealing games on the market today. To me it seems like a strong mix of Need for Speed and Burnout. It’s quite obvious that an enormous amount of inspiration came from Burnout 3, so mixing the best of both worlds isn’t such a bad idea. Add the pursuit of cops and you’ve got yourself a racing game that strives to differentiate itself from its competition.

Need for Speed Most Wanted succeeds in many ways, but too often I found myself racing in events that I felt I had already played. In that respect, EA Canada could have put more emphasis on unique races, perhaps striving for a game that provides the gamer with genuinely new-feeling race events each time. That’s a minor gripe in an overall excellent package. If you’re a Need for Speed fan out there, Most Wanted will be your most wanted holiday present this season.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.8
Written by Kyle Review Guide

Leave a Comment