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Need for Speed: Most Wanted Review

Burnout Paradise was the perfect open world driving game, giving you the chance to explore a huge map, grab a near unlimited amount of cars and connect with your friends whenever you felt the need. Not since Criterion graced us with that game has there been another like it, not of the same quality anyway; well that's about to change and it'll come as no surprise that it's Paradise's developer which is once again leading the way.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted doesn't have a story as such, and in a way I am glad. Instead Criterion has concentrated its efforts on making this the most connected open world experience out there, whilst also giving you the chance to get your hands on some of the most impressive cars around. Even though there is no real story, lone players needn't worry about such things because there are still objectives, such as gaining enough speed points to climb your way into the number one Most Wanted spot and at the same time, take out anyone standing in your way and get hold of some of the rarest vehicles around.

Speed Points are the game's main currency which are gained in various ways. The most obvious way to earn Speed Points is to take part in the various events which you can enter by finding a new car. Obviously cars are very important part of Most Wanted and the beauty is that you don't need to win races or spend cash to unlock them. Instead cars are spread throughout the city, hidden or even in plain view. Should you wish to add one to your collection then it's just a case of driving up to it, giving you access to some of the most impressive vehicles around without the hassle. 

Once you find your car of choice, you'll automatically unlock various events which are suited to that vehicle; this is your ticket to Speed Points. Events range from simple circuit racers, to speed runs and other challenges, such as losing the police as quickly as you can. Winning these will not only add to your Speed Points total but you will also earn upgrades for your vehicles, allowing for customisations such as Reinforced Chassis, Reinflating Tires, Impact Protection, Powershot Nitrous and more. Upgrading means more power, which of course means more chance of winning.

Circuit races and the point-to-point Sprint races are amongst the most eventful you'll take part in, mainly thanks to you and your fellow racers causing havoc all over town. This mainly comes in the form of you trashing the place as you speed through lampposts, mail boxes and anything else you knock down in your wake. You will also cause damage to your own car of course, as well as others, although at least you will gain points for takedowns while you are at it.

Another important part of the single player side of the game are Most Wanted races. When the game starts you will find yourself way down the Most Wanted leaderboard, however as you earn Speed Points you will unlock the chance to challenge those above you. Should you win this one-on-one race, you are then given the chance to take them out and steal their car. Obviously winning these races gets more difficult as you climb up the chart. It also doesn't help that the police are on your tail throughout.

One of the fun aspects of wrecking your car is fixing it. Throughout the game you will come across various body shops, a lot of the time even during your races, and not only does this fix up your car instantly, but it will also give you a new paint job. The former is obviously the most useful, especially if you have wrecked your car and ruined your tyres during the course of an event.

Of course there are plenty of other ways to earn Speed Points, for instance you can explore the city and find gates and billboards to smash through ala Burnout Paradise. You can also find huge jumps, flash past speed cameras or try evading the ever present police, who scour the street looking for anyone causing trouble, or you can show off your drifting skills, allowing you to rack up those points and get closer to the next Most Wanted on your list.

The police in Most Wanted are particularly pesky, chasing your throughout and outside of race events, trying to take you down at any opportunity. They will also throw road blocks in your way and if you build enough heat, even larger and tougher police vehicles will be on your tail, causing you all manner of problems. You can build up quite a few Speed Points while trying to avoid the police, although be warned, should they catch you then you will lose any points gained during the pursuit.

Accessing anywhere on the menu is simple thanks to the inclusion of EasyDrive. With a simple click of your controller you will gain instant access to Races; Mods; any cars you have found; Most Wanted Races and the Autolog Recommends and Multiplayer menus. What is great about the menu is that any races you have already taken part in can be instantly accessed and in a similar vein, you can jump straight into any cars you have got in your collection.

Whilst driving around on your own will bring you hours of endless fun, this is a Criterion game we are talking about and therefore it's packed with multiplayer features, none of which stand out more so than Autolog 2.0. As you would expect, the game is completely connected throughout, allowing you and your friends the chance to challenge each others times whilst also tracking your friend's achievements and progress. Any time your friend bests you on the leaderboards an Autolog alert will come up, giving you the chance to jump straight in and punish them for having the cheek to beat your time.

Another major part of the online mode is in the competitive multiplayer. In multiplayer you are given a set of pre-selected cars, with the aim being to increase your Speed Level by winning races and challenges. Your Speed Level is also linked to your Speed Points, so the more points you earn, the more cars and extras you will unlock in multiplayer.

To mix things up a little, every car you take control of in multiplayer has a milestone, should you achieve these you will unlock mods and new paint jobs for your car, which will no doubt come in handy during Speed Tests or Friends Matches. So what are Speed Tests you say? Basically these are events which see you take part in five events back to back, with the aim being to earn the most Speed Points. The player who does so then wins; quite simple really. Other multiplayer events include standard races, team races and challenges.

Multiplayer is fantastic fun and a superb addition to what is already a pretty feature packed game. There is no doubt you will spend hours upon hours exploring and challenging friends both online and using Autolog. Racing games should be about being connected and no-one seems to do this better than Criterion.

On the presentation side of things, Need for Speed: Most Wanted couldn't be better. As well as providing a fantastic soundtrack, the cars all look absolutely stunning whilst the lighting and layout of the map is a joy to behold. As with Burnout Paradise, crashes are met with spectacular cutscenes in which you watch as your car deteriorates. Car damage is a big thing and there is nothing more enjoyable than watching sparks fly from the place where your tyres used to be. If there is one problem as far as presentation goes, then it comes in the form of the occasional lag and some noticeable pop-up in the distance, although this is quite rare and certainly doesn't take away from the experience. 

If you're a racing fan or petrol head of any sort then Criterion's Need for Speed really should be on your Most Wanted list. It's an incredible, feature packed game which will keep you busy until the next game in the series and beyond. Get this in your console, start your engines and prepare for another taste of paradise, albeit a slightly different one.

(Version tested: PS3)


Looks fantastic
Feature Packed
Autolog 2.0 continues to evolve
Excellent multiplayer features
Open world, long lasting single player experience


Occasional lag and pop up

Curious about the PS Vita version? Read our review here.

Edited On 30 Oct, 2012

( 35 )
0000000000 3 years ago
my copy is currently processing and i can not wait for this one i am going to love this game and this review has just proved even more so :D so happy with the sounds of it so bring it on when it comes through my door.. few sicks days at work due i think!
Rachael 3 years ago
So happy that I have ordered this game, the fact that it is like Burnout : Paradise makes me sooo happy because that is one of my favourite car games ever! Great review, role on Thursday/Friday!!!
PrometheusFan 3 years ago
Any review of the Vita version coming? Or is it similar enough that the PS3 review can be taken as indicator enough for it?
Still trying to sort it out. We'll get one up before Saturday. From what I've seen tho its the same game, with slightly less traffic and lower quality graphics. A few reviews out there indicate it's great tho.
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
troublemaker 3 years ago
There's no denying that those that have been screaming for another Burnout game are more than catered for here. Burnout was the last racer that I simply couldn't put down and still go back to it on occasison now. It'll have to move over, most wanted looks to take it's spot now. Nice Going Criterion
UKVampire 3 years ago
Waiting for ShopTo to dispatch my copy.... **HINT HINT NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK**
officer_cartman 3 years ago
as expected Criterion deliver again
officer_cartman 3 years ago
as expected Criterion deliver again
adwan 3 years ago
Didn't expect anything less than a glowing review for this. It's sounds like you will get hours out of this game. Loved Burnout Paradise and I already know this is going to fill the hole where it used to be. Cannot wait for this game and cannot wait to see what the Vita version is like.
Gloria 3 years ago
I do hope the racing isn't as open world as it was in Burnout Paradise, it doesn't sound like it is, but the review is a little vague about it. I'm in no hurry to pick it up though, maybe give the 360 version a rent at some point to decide if it's one to buy or not.
I'm pretty sure it is exactly as it was in Burnout Paradise. I'm guessing your talking about having to pick your own routes to get to the finishing line (risking getting lost/going the wrong way easily)? If so then i'm sure this is how it plays out.
adwan 3 years ago
i dont think it will play the same as paradise did to be honest i think it will be set routes but plenty of open driving outside the races!
0000000000 3 years ago
Yeah you can take short cuts etc when racing. You can also explore around the entire map if that's what you mean.
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Ok, could you clear this up for us Joe? In Burnout Paradise you start a race, but you can choose cany route across Paradise City to get to the finish line, is it the same in this version of Most Wanted? Or is it that you get a set route, with the odd short cut, when in a race, blocked by the invisible walls/directional arrow walls, road blocks etc, like other street racer games?
adwan 3 years ago
That's a bit of a deal breaker for me then, the open world is fine for exploring and challenges and that, but I like my races to be on set tracks, the odd short cut or alternate route is fine, but totally open world is not for me. I'll give it a rent at some point anyway though, and maybe pick it up when it gets really cheap, but it's definitely not a priority.
Gloria 3 years ago
It's a set route as there are checkpoints in each race. However there are other races where you need to lose the police etc and as far as I remember there are no set routes in these.
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Thanks Joe. I'm kinda glad there are set routes as there was nothing worse than missing a turn in Burnout and messing up the whole race!
adwan 3 years ago
That's OK then, sounds the same as in the original Most Wanted, just drive around to lose the cops, I can deal with that.
Gloria 3 years ago
I really enjoyed the original Most Wanted, was probably the last Need For Speed game I did actually enjoy.
adwan 3 years ago
Yep, was one of the few good NFS's this generation, that and Hot Pursuit.
Gloria 3 years ago
Birdorf 3 years ago
I cancelled my Vita pre-order this morning after Pocket Gamer said it was difficult to see what lies ahead which leads to unwanted crashes. I wonder if you can confirm or deny this? Sorry to ask.
I did notice on a gameplay vid I watched yesterday that on coming traffic does seen to just appear. I'm guessing that graphical limitations on the vita have resulted in short draw distances.
adwan 3 years ago
We'll have a review for the Vita version later this week. Or at least an impressions article since it's much the same game.
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Datastatic 3 years ago
Surely a proper Burnout next please. Literally will be waiting by my postbox for this to arrive.
LFC Bywater 3 years ago
really cant wait for this game, ordered and paid for already, roll on thursday!!
Gloria 3 years ago
You lied Joe, the races aren't on set tracks at all, it's all still open world like Paradise, the only difference is you get a GTA style minimap with GPS in the corner of the screen. I'm glad I only rented it, I'd be bloody annoyed if I'd gone and paid for it on your say so.
On one type of race big green arrows cut off certain routes, circuit Joe did say that on some races shortcuts are available and it is just an open world with traffic.
LFC Bywater 3 years ago
very judemental person read things properly before you kick of at the end of the day the bloke does multiple reviews.. could you do his job! people really annoy me when they say things like that!
0000000000 3 years ago
All I'm seeing so far is open world all the way, having checkpoints to pass through in an open world is not a set track to me, and all you have to tell you where to go is a little map in the corner which if you look at you can easily crash. This is exactly what I didn't want.
Gloria 3 years ago
Gloria 3 years ago
Very Judgemental? I asked a question and got a misleading answer, Both me and adwan asked the same question, and I think it's pretty clear what we were asking, and Joe gave us an answer, but the answer later turned out to be wrong. I don't think I was being judgemental in calling him up on it, and like I said I'd be very annoyed if I'd actually parted with £40 on the basis of his answer, and quite rightly too. And yes, I know what it's like to work for a gaming website, I did it myself, for a few years unpaid.
Lisa 3 years ago
Actually want to play this, not much into racing/car games but there are a few good ones out there - this looks like one of them. And look how pretty the cars are...
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Hi Gloria sorry, perhaps I misunderstood the question, but as I stated there are checkpoints which you need to go through in the races, so you can't take a completely different route to get there, although there are some shortcuts. I never realised you meant are there actual tracks which you race on, so I'm sorry if I misunderstood. In the main it's an open world game, although I wouldn't say the races are open world, I guess it depends on your interpretation of this.
That's cool, I'm starting to get to grips with it a bit, and it's not quite as bad as I first thought, but i would have been really annoyed if I'd bought it.
Gloria 3 years ago
Beazi 3 years ago
I'm trying to win this game. I missed out Hot Pursuit, but had Shift 2... this one really does excite me though
kwok007's avatar
kwok007 3 years ago
Not really into racing games but this sounds good so will wait till it comes down in price and purchase it

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