|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Release: Q4 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
The new Need for Speed: Most Wanted is not your standard racing game. It's a strange fusion of GTA, an RPG, and Burnout Paradise. In fact, Criterion, the studio behind Burnout, is in charge of making this one, and while it certainly feels like it has more Burnout DNA than Need for Speed DNA, it's simply better off for it.
All the racing games of the past kind of blur together in my brain anyway, so comparisons to past titles aren't all that important. What is important, though, is that Need for Speed: Most Wanted gave me a unique gameplay experience that wasn't like anything I've played in the racing genre before.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted sets you down in an open racing world. As you drive around the city, you'll get points for doing cool stuff like jumping, crashing through fences and signs, finding interesting shortcuts, and more. You'll also build up your boost by drifting, drafting, and generally driving recklessly. Drive recklessly enough and the cops will start to tail you, busting you if they manage to stop you for long enough. Of course, you can run them off the road, smash into them to flip them over, jump over their spike traps, and more. In fact, the more stylishly you outrun the cops, the more points you get!
These points are sort of a combination between leaderboard score and experience. Earning them allows you to pimp out your ride in interesting new ways. You can make your ride heavier to be more stable or lighter to fly higher with jumps. You can give your car more traction, increase its boost meter and the rate it earns boost, tweak its acceleration, speed, and handling, and much more. Of course, these upgrades let you perform better on the road, giving you more points, which let you purchase more upgrades, and so on. The classic RPG cycle goes on.
Now, the main focus here is to literally become the Most Wanted. You are ranked at just about everything you do in the game. You have a ranking for number of signs you smash, fastest speed through a red light, amount of carnage and destruction caused, and more. The better you are at being a reckless racing machine, the more points you get, and this makes you, in essence, more wanted than your friends. You can try to outdo your friends in specific areas, or simply try to get the most points out of all your friends in an attempt to climb the charts to the very top and become racing's Public Enemy Number One.
Until now, I've only talked about driving around the open world, but you gain the most points by completing challenges. These challenges can be races, time trials, attempts to outrun the cops, or the classic Burnout style "make the biggest crash" game, but they can also be much more. While a majority of the challenges are isolated racing game-style events, some are simply challenges that activate as you drive around the overworld. Like speed cameras, these challenges just check your progress whenever you perform them, updating your points in the process.