Saturday, June 2, 2018

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) (PS3)

Need for Speed:  Most Wanted is the 19th mainline title in the Need for Speed series, developed by Criterion Games, the creators of Burnout and the ones behind Need for Speed:  Hot Pursuit (2010).  Most Wanted is an open world racer, taking place in the city of Fairhaven, with varied environments including the city, beaches, industrial and countryside areas.  There are plenty of side streets and offroad sections.  The handling of the vehicles is as tight as ever.  It's very easy to pick up and get used to, and it is a blast to play.  There are 41 unique cars in the base game (with more provided by DLC).  You unlock a car and its associated events by finding Jack Points all over the map.  Annoyingly though, the DLC cars are also scattered around the map and if you don't have the DLC, it'll ask you to purchase them.  Having it in such plain sight is too much in your face and ends up doing more harm than good to the game, especially when you go up to it expecting to unlock a car but you just get a message asking you to buy it.

There are customization options for each car, however, you unlock more options as you complete that car's races.  The mods can only be used for that car so it can be somewhat annoying when you move onto the next car and have to get used to something that doesn't handle as great as the one you were using before.  You can swap cars at any time via a handy menu.  To start up an event, you have to drive to the starting point of the event.  This means you might have to drive around the city for a few minutes to get to that spot.  If you don't finish first or just want to redo the event again, you can select it from the menu.  Therefore, you only ever need to drive to the event if you are participating in it for the first time.  Most Wanted takes the spirit of Hot Pursuit with cop cars chasing you.  They can deploy roadblocks and spike strips . There are various levels of the Heat Meter, from one to six, with more resources put towards taking you down at higher levels.

The rubberbanding is very evident when even the lowliest cop car can easily overtake you at 250 km/h.  Cops will also trigger a pursuit if you speed in their vicinity or hit them, which is kind of annoying during free-roam when you just wanted to get to the next event destination.  The cops are annoyingly persistent and you may have to spend over 15 minutes to try and get away from them.  Cop cars will spawn in front of you from nowhere, or a roadblock will be in place just as you got out of their radar, it can be insufferable and easier to just get busted as there is no penalty.  The races are rubberbanded heavily, to the point where an average player will win during the last stretch as you chase down the first place.  While this does create a nice rush and a sense of accomplishment, it is also predictable and doesn't reward you for trying to race well beforehand.  That being said, the game is easier compared to Criterion's last game, Hot Pursuit (2010), and given you don't need to come in the top three all the time to unlock new races and cars, it's a lot more forgiving.

You can taken down opponents by smashing into them, but of course, you're more likely to be taken down yourself.  Crashing at high speed will also trigger short cutscenes of the car being smashed.  These cutscenes are cool for the first few times, but annoying anytime afterwards.  This breaks the sense of speed and can feel cheap when your car is so easily taken down, yet it is so hard to take down others in the beginning.  The traffic will definitely get in your way, so you may have to try events multiple times in order to get one where the traffic spawns in your favour.  You gain Speed Points for everything you do from takedowns to winning races to evading the cops.  Once you gain enough points, you unlock one of ten Most Wanted races.  Beating the race and then taking down the car afterwards will unlock that special car, which are usually exotics.  Earning points is quite easy, especially with the online features of having your friends' times to beat.  That's as far as the story goes though, getting to the top of the Most Wanted list via beating the ten races.  There are cutscenes before every event which you can skip, and luckily so, because they are quite weird.

There are a total of 61 unique events in the game and their objectives are quite varied.  You will race for first position, escape the cops or achieve a target average speed.  It's quite a lot of fun.  The graphics are fantastic although it is a tad bit too shiny.  The lens flare are excessive and blocks out the whole screen for less than a second but when you're going at 300 km/h, this can be fatal and cause you to lose your place.  To encourage exploring the whole of the city, there are a ton of collectibles from smashing billboards, going past speed cameras, finding all the jack points and breaking all the security gates.  These are additional optional objectives, so you can safely ignore these mundane activities.  Overall, Need for Speed:  Most Wanted is an extremely fun arcade racer that looks great and plays great.  The cops can be a little bit annoying but otherwise, it's an excellent game.


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