If you have played the last couple of Need for Speed games, you will probably already know that the quality of the racing games published by EA was degrading rapidly. By letting Criterion Games, the creators of the immensely popular Burnout series, develop Most Wanted, EA has made the right decision to resurrect the NFS series.
As in most racing games, there isn’t really a storyline. The only information you get at the start of the game is that you need to beat the 10 most wanted drivers of Fairhaven, the city in which you can drive freely and participate in races to upgrade your cars and get enough Speed Points to unlock the next Most Wanted Race. The ten cars you will have to race and the required amount of speed points can be found here. There are four DLC packs, all of which also add an extra Most Wanted Race. To get the car of a Most Wanted Driver, you have to beat him in a race and shut him down afterwards.
The entire city of Fairhaven is completely open-world, with lots of secret passages and structures to drive on. A cool new feature is the addition of Autolog, a system which allows you to change your car parts on-the-fly, even while in a race. It also lets you jump to discovered jack spots and from here you can track your progress on the Most Wanted List without having to go to the menu. With Autolog, you are connected to all of your friends who play the game. There is a virtual leaderboard for every billboard you drive through and every speed camera you pass, so you can compete against your friends. To unlock cars, you will need to find them throughout the city and its surroundings. After you have found them, you don’t need to buy them. You can just hop in and start driving it. Each car has its own set of 6 races to unlock different parts like wheels and nitrous, which can all be upgraded to Pro level after completing a task, giving you more advantages while you use the part. In total, there are 123 Jackspots, but some cars have multiple spots where they can be found, resulting in a car list of 44 unique cars. While you race these, you will probably damage them. If that’s the case, you can just drive through a garage and you car will be instantly fixed, like in Burnout Paradise.
There’s a multiplayer section to the game as well, in which you can drive in the city, shutting down other people and winning races to get Speed Points. As you level up, you will receive new cars to drive. These can be similarly upgraded as in the singleplayer. There is a number of different events to participate in, ranging from normal races to contests of jumping the farthest through a billboard.
Criterion has proven it still knows how to make racing games by taking the Need for Speed franchise out of the endless stream of racing games and making it fun again. Hopefully EA is smart enough to ditch Black Box forever and to stick with Criterion Games as their developer for NFS games.
(available for xbox 360 (version tested), PS3 and PC)