Read a Game?: Need For Speed Most Wanted

August 3, 2009

Gamerscore after one playthrough: 1000/1000

This is also probably going to be very long, as I need to cover the same breath of information as I did for the Forza review. Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the physical successor to Need for Speed: Underground 2 (which I played a long while ago on the original X-Box), but it is the spiritual successor to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (which I have never played). It is also widely considered the apex of the series.

Time for the comparison to Underground 2:

The Good:

  • No more SUV’s
  • Full Motion Video cut-scenes instead of graphic novel thing
  • No more “look-how-stereotypically-ghettotastic-my-car-is” rating and events
  • No limit to the number of cars in your garage
  • No more spinners
  • Able to jump directly to events
  • No more drift events
  • The police chases are a much more satisfying open-world activity than challenging random street racers

The Bad:

  • The police chases make traveling to the car lot and body shops much more annoying
  • No trade-in for performance mods (assuming I am remembering Underground 2 correctly)

The Meh:

  • Different EA Trax track list, but both were equally horrible enough (outside of the instrumental stuff) that I turned off the music.

Apples and Oranges data for this arcade racer:

  • Quantity of Cars: 32, more or less
  • Quality of Cars: The cars with naturally high handling are very drivable. Low handling leads to greased brick territory. There are only 4 true clunkers, in my opinion (the first 4 you have access to).
  • Car Modification (Visual): Adequate. You have a nice variety of pre-made mods that will slowly unlock. The heat system (more on that later) creates the situation where it is hard to stay too attached to a given car’s look (especially until you have 3 or 4 good cars in your garage).
  • Car Modification (Performance): Barely There. 3 levels of general category mod collections: engine, tires, brakes, suspension, turbo, nitro, transmission. The car will feel different when you add them on, but don’t expect in-depth part boosting.
  • D’s of Doom: Drag races. You only have to do 4 or 5 in the whole game though. Adding insult to injury, normal drag races pay considerably less than any other race type. Drag maxes out at $4,500, while the other race types max out at $25,000.
  • Unique Race Types: There is a unique race type outside the traditional circuit (with lap knockout variant) and point-to-point races (both time trial [called Tollbooth] and race varieties). It is called Speedbreaker and, man, do I enjoy it. The goal is not necessarily to have the best time, but to have the highest total speed, as determined by your speed at set points on the track. Once somebody passes the finish line, the total speed of the remaining competitors gets knocked down gradually until they finish. It is a unique spin on the race concept. Also of note are the cop chases, which are open world and, at the right heat levels, are also quite enjoyable.
  • Currency: There are 4 different forms of currency in this game. Cash is earned by winning races, boss battle bonuses, and selling boss cars (be sure to strip the body mods first. You only get half the value of the base car back when selling a car; you can trade in body mods for stock parts for some extra cash). Bounty is earned by pursuit time (with heat multipliers) and immobilizing cop cars. Pursuit cost is earned by breaking things (cop cars, other cars, signs, tollbooths, et cetera). And, finally, heat is earned by breaking the law and resisting arrest on a per car basis; heat can be reduced by changing the looks of the car and by using a different car. A certain amount of cash is not necessary to progress, but a certain amount of bounty is.
  • Achievements: All 1000 points are up for grabs offline. You complete the career mode, you get them all. Prepare for a long, strange slog, achievement hogs. The first 12 achievements combined are worth the last one (at 350). It makes for a strange combination. 35% points,but 80% of the achievements.

Other notes:

  • The graphics are okay. The cut scenes are heavy on the light bloom (and sadly, very few in number; there is only one of them between the opening section and the end of the game). They do have okay boss intro vids.
  • The speedbreaker game function (think bullet time) feels wonky. It might be because I rarely used it, but it made every car feel like a greased brick jerkily sliding around.
  • There is very little reason to play this game beyond the first playthough (other than getting the top spot on every leaderboard for various categories of cop chase data). The game does have a challenge series, but no achievements and no choice in the car you drive makes Johnny a sad boy. Quick races round it out. I do not even remember online as an option.
  • All of the cars (except the cop cars) are made of this indestructible metal. You can dent a civilian car, but not take it out of commission. You can crash your car repeatedly and only see cosmetic damage (broken windows, paint scrapes). It seems silly that the cop cars can be smashed to being inoperative, but nothing else can be.
  • Looking at the morality, you are pretty much encouraged to break various traffic laws and resist arrest. I do not remember cursing in the actual gameplay (the music might have had some in it, but I turned that off). Cars are left as (non-exploding) husks, so violence and gore are minimal. Sex and whatnot are completely avoided.

Total time!

Gameplay: 5/5

Presentation: 4/5

Interface: 4/5

Replay: 3/5

Morality: 4/5

Average: 4/5

Well, I started on the sequel (Need for Speed: Carbon) today, so we will see if Most Wanted lives up to the consensus.


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