Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PC) Review
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Online functionality is also key to this game with online multiplayer putting us up against other racers in various races and challenges. Each placing is awarded points and our final position in the mini-tournaments enhances our speed level with unlocks available along the way. Added to this is CloudCompete which brings all game formats together, allowing us to play on PC (for example) and continue our progress on Xbox 360 should we have access to that title.
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We move from event to event in our own time, almost always blasting round the city at high speed, racking up points for our driving, destruction and law breaking activities. This free roaming approach with the ability to go almost anywhere really does keep the player engaged in the game when not competing and while it can occasionally be inconvenient to get involved in a police chase that wastes a bit of time when we had a goal in mind the concept works incredibly well.
When racing the gameplay is packed with action, almost always at an exceptionally high speed and the difficulty is balanced very well provided we choose the right vehicle for each event. It was also noticeable that the highly arcade nature of crashes helps keep things ticking along as crashes and damage are essentially there for Hollywood thrills. Try to take out another car for points or position, miss time it and hit a wall destroying our vehicle… no problem, we are dropped back into the game within a few seconds with minimal distance to catch the other players. It doesn’t make the races easy but it does mean we are always in the action rather than mistakes being impossible to recover from.
In terms of presentation there is a lot to love about Most Wanted. The view distance is great and while there is the occasional stutter, even on the fastest system, as the game loads an upcoming area into memory the overall view distance and performance is very impressive. Lighting effects and day to night transitions are handled well, crash cinematics add impact and though there are some low res effects in places, such as large sections of water on the scenery being a bit disappointing, the main cars and road surfaces all look good. Audio is decent too with plenty of growling engine noise and impressive crash noises. The soundtrack is ok, filled with tracks that are designed to appeal to a wide audience without being intrusive. We can of course mute the in-game music and use our own tunes while driving by running a media player in the background.
If there is any overall criticism of the game which can be levelled at Criterion or EA by fans of the franchise it would be that the game does move away a little too far from the core NFS concept due to the low impact of police capture along with no bounty, black list and the like. Though knowing this does set expectations and we can’t say that any of these aspects being missing reduced our enjoyment.
Back to the gameplay we have the online section which contains our own least favourite aspect of the game. As an idea it seems perfect, throw a bunch of drivers into the open world and have them meet at set points to compete in various races and challenges (race, skills, destruction etc) but everything can be a bit manic and disorganised with players trying to take each other out, ALL THE TIME, with no let-up. That said, when not being randomly taken out by other players even when it isn’t required by the challenge the tasks that focus on racing and skill are fantastic with plenty of challenge and more importantly fun.