Reviewed: December 8, 2005
Released: November 15, 2005
The concept of Need for Speed Most Wanted seems to combine the ideas of Underground and Hot Pursuit. The one thing that Underground 2 was missing was the cops. Anyone that street races knows that the police are the biggest worry. So it seemed like EA basically needed to add that aspect and tweak a few other things here and there. They tweaked all right. I think Most Wanted merely had a hard game to follow. It may not have met the bar for custom tuning that was previously set, but it is still a good game nonetheless.
The tradition of illegal street racing and tuner customization is carried on in Most Wanted. But this time, you have more to worry about than just rival racers. The Blacklist is out, and the police have a bounty on your car. Avoid getting busted while taking on some of the fastest rides around. Become the most wanted.
Welcome to Rockport, your next stop in street racing fame. At least thatís what youíre hoping. Cross, the local officer, and Razor, rival street racer, both donít care for you or your ride. To them, youíre just another amateur that doesnít belong on the scene. It seems like everyone is against you and your M3 in this new town.
The beauty of this game is Josie Maran, a young model/actress known for her work with magazines such as Glamour and roles in movies as Van Helsing and Little Black Book. Maran plays the role of Mia Townsend, a gorgeous woman that befriends you after you come to Rockport. Sheíll be the one to help you establish yourself as the most wanted racer.
You look for races around the city of Rockport using the world map, which is very similar to the one used in Underground 2. This map is more user-friendly, though, allowing you to freely move the cursor around the map. To prove yourself worthy of racing a racer on the Blacklist, you have to win a certain amount of races and establish a certain bounty. You increase your bounty by engaging in police pursuits and evading capture. As the game progresses, police cars will become faster, changing from Crown Vics to faster cars like the Corvette C6.
The races you participate in are fairly similar to the Underground series. EA decided to scrap the drift and street x modes, which makes sense seeing as how this really isnít a tuner game, but more of a street racer. The circuit, sprint, and drag styles returned to keep the street racing alive.
A new aspect of Most Wanted includes the speedbreaker. It makes the environment around you come to near standstill. It makes it easier to control around tight turns, under trucks, or through tight squeezes. It can be useful when avoiding a barrage of squad cars approaching you head on.
The addition of police pursuits and exotics is a very nice touch to this game. Some of the exotics include: Mercedes SL500 and SLR McLaren, Lotus Elise, Aston Marton DB9, Porsche 911 Carrera S and Carrera GT, Dodge Viper SRT 10, Ford GT, and Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago. Other new additions include the new 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse, Chevy Cobalt SS and Corvette C6, and Pontiac GTO.
However, it seems as though some companies decided to stay off of the scene this time. Possibly not wanting to promote evading law enforcement, Honda and Nissan both opted to refrain from having their cars in Most Wanted. This means no more 350Z, Skyline, G35, Civic, or RSX. These arenít the only vehicles missing. SUVís have also been removed, thankfully. I really never saw their place in Underground 2. I know SUVís get decked out and such, but not for racing. Itís more for show than anything.
Tuner capabilities are still present, though to a lesser degree. You can still change your paint, rims, body kit, and hoods, but you can no longer customize your side mirrors, headlights, taillights, or exhaust tips. Also, performance changes only come in packages, eliminating the option of installing individual parts. Previewing the changes to your car is better than the previous Underground. You can zoom in and rotate the camera at better angles than formerly possible. Body kits are also now tailored for the specific car, as opposed to separate front, rear, and side pieces.
This game takes the cake in cutscene graphics for racing games. The cars and people are just shown in absolute beauty. However, the graphics during gameplay donít come off as incredible. The cars still look stunning, but the environment seems really lifeless. Cutscenes use the full motion video (FMV) approach, looking almost like scenes from movies like Gone in 60 Seconds. No longer do you have the comic-strip-presentation that Underground 2 used, but actual movies that are awesome to watch.
You have a wide assortment of cars that can be visually tweaked to please your own eye. There are some new ways to visually enhance your car compared to Need for Speed Underground 2, but I still that Underground has the upper hand on visual customizations. Even without the former array of cosmetics for your car, your car is rendered beautifully with the options you do have. Like Underground 2, Most Wanted gives a ton of detail to each car. From the minor decals to the intricate body contours, you could easily look up a car online and see how the ones in the game are nearly identical.
The HUD has a really simple layout. It is also customizable for those of you that donít care about whatís in your rearview mirror or what lap youíre on. The views you can use include a close-up, bumper, hood, and far view. The only issue with the view is that you canít change it on the fly. You have to pause and go into the options menu to change the cameraís view. EA also brought us a new visual effect. The speedbreaker mode gives you this neat effect of everything around you being in slow motion.
At really intense parts of the game, you can sometimes notice the frame rate bog down slightly, or little graphical glitches. But other than those parts, the game runs smoothly. Youíll also notice an option called car damage. I think itís a misnomer, though. They should have just called it windshield damage, because thatís basically what you notice as being damaged. I purposely ran my car into a wall at 150 and came up with a battered windshield but no body damage.
Just like Need for Speed Underground, Need for Speed Most Wanted has a list of songs from various well-known artists used for its background music. The Most Wanted list has 26 songs, which include songs such as: Skinnyman by Static-X, Decadence by Disturbed, and Sets Go Up by Juvenile. You can also customize what youíll hear during races, on menu screens, both, or neither.
The biggest problem I have with EAís choice of songs is the tempo. For all of their street racing titles, theyíve used mostly medium-tempo songs. Now, I like the alternative, heavy metal, grunge, and so forth genres, but a lot of these songs are not upbeat. When Iím driving at high speeds, I donít want a mellow beat to be playing in the background. I want to have something high-tempo playing. Their choice of music seems to be more fitting for the free roam mode instead of the actual racing.
The sound effects are very good. You can feel the resonating pitch of the exhaust, as it rumbles with the throttle. The nitrous gives a nice hissing sound. The tuner sound missing: the blow-off valve sound associated with turbochargers, since this game utilized superchargers instead. Utilizing a surround sound system can make you feel like youíre there. The sounds that are in the game do a great job of mimicking the products from the real world.
The one effect that can be entertaining at times is the radio chatter. When youíre in a police pursuit, youíll hear the police over your radio. At times, it can be amusing listening to their frustration.
As with the former Need for Speed Underground games, Most Wanted offers a lot of playing time and replayability. Just beating career mode takes a few days of playing. The Blacklist includes 15 racers. Each racer has his or her own requirements that you must meet before he or she will even consider racing you. Those requirements include at least 6 events. These events are only the ones you have to complete, too. There are numerous hidden races on top of this, giving you hours of more gameplay in career mode.
I could spend hours merely building up various cars for my garage. Once you complete the career mode, youíll probably want to continue to build up other cars. The multiplayer also throws in the action for heads-up races. The only thing this could have had is an online ability. It would be nice to be able to wager money or even pink slips or your car. But, like many other games, it is exposed to Nintendoís lack of generous online gaming.
The price tag sits at $49.99. The price tag should sit at $49.99. It is a fun racing game that offers hours and hours of gameplay and replay.
Granted, Need for Speed Most Wanted may not live up to its Underground predecessor completely, it is still a good game. It offers things that Underground lacks. Plus, itís nice to see a slew of exotics alongside sport compacts. The newest Need for Speed may be the most wanted of the season, being one of the best racing games for now.