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Retroactive Posts: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

May 8, 2013

(Originally posted on November 1st, 2012)

Need-for-speed-most-wanted-box-artNeed for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

What’s good:
-Excellently rendered vehicles and environments
-Both offline and online, races are fast and intense
-Smooth and fulfilling handling model
-Vehicles sound and feel powerful
-Structured multiplayer Speedlists are chaotic and exciting
-In single player, the vehicle upgrade system is habit forming

What’s bad:
-Occasional frame rate hitches and sluggishness
-Single player Most Wanted progression is poorly designed
-Police chases are often more annoying than exciting
– UI inconsistencies can lead to frustration during online races

If I were to give it a rating: 4 out of 5

Other thoughts:

Most Wanted is precisely what I was hoping it would be, which was a slower paced (in the interest of gameplay), more smartly designed Burnout Paradise. A lot of the issues I had with Paradise sum up to lack of on-screen information to help you get to your destination; be it the finish line during a race, a meet up point in online challenges, or something as simple as getting a sense for when to start turning without looking at the minimap. Countless were the times I glanced at the map in Burnout Paradise to attempt to plan out a route just to quickly (and I do mean quickly) slam headlong into something.
The speed of Paradise was impressive, but it was a hindrance to the gameplay in more cases than not. Most Wanted fixes this problem in two ways: Slower vehicles, and better on screen indication for where you should be going.
There are now Saint’s Row (or more recently GTA4) style suggested paths drawn on the minimap to give you an idea for how to proceed to your destination, as well as smartly placed checkpoint markers dotted about your route, visible from a vast distance and often placed directly on the inside of turns to give you a good idea of where to turn without having to memorize the entire city, pause the screen to plan out a route, or stare at the minimap constantly for directions. This makes racing viable and a lot of fun, where as in Burnout Paradise the races were the most frustrating events in the game. The only downside, is that there are numerous events (mostly during multiplayer) in which you will be tasked to race to a location, but there will be no checkpoint markers to lead you on your way.

Single player is done well, but it could have had a stronger sense of progression. Each car you find in the environment has 5 events associated with it which unlock upgrades for that vehicle if you place 2nd or 1st. It has a neat “gotta catch ’em all” feel to it, cruising around the city to find your next batch of events, and I’ve lost track of time on several occasions telling myself “I’ll go ahead and finish up this car’s events real quick, too.”
The problem with single player though is twofold: First, there’s really no appeal in getting anything less than gold in the events (as when you get gold you automatically receive any lower tier upgrade as well), and the events aren’t all that difficult to begin with, so having a tiered reward system isn’t really necessary. It still beats the “you’re either first or you lose” system found in Burnout Paradise, but when you finish Bronze or Silver, you always want to just retry for Gold anyway. Aside from competing for fastest times against your friends, there is also no real reason to repeat these events.
Secondly, there are 10 target Most Wanted vehicles to race against and eventually shut down to unlock, but these are gated behind a Speed Points system, which doesn’t feel particularly rewarding or give you a good sense of progression throughout the game.
Speed Points are cumulative between single and multiplayer, and in multiplayer they are what give you Call of Duty-esque level ups and unlock new vehicles to use there; but in single player the only purpose of Speed Points is to gate your access to Most Wanted races. You gather SP at a pretty tremendous rate, so there were times during the single player in which I had three or more of the Most Wanted races open that I didn’t want to go off and do because I was in the middle of upgrading a car. It’s just unfulfilling. It would have been nice to see some sort of purchase system to give you a Speed Points sink, or perhaps have Speed Points unlock upgrades while a separate Reputation system gated your access to the Most Wanted?
Single player also lacks personality. Aside from the alluring voice book-ending your progress and the somewhat repetitive police chase radio chatter, Most Wanted feels a tad on the lifeless side. It would have been great to see personalities associated with each of the 10 Most Wanted vehicles, but instead you have to make do with the trippy intro sequences prefacing each of their races.

The cooperative challenge mode from Burnout Paradise returns in Most Wanted, and comes structured into 5 event long Speedlists. The events range from free for all races, to team races, to speed tests (which task players to say be the fastest past a specific speed camera or to do the farthest jump off of a specific ramp), to cooperative challenges much like those in Burnout Paradise in which all of the players need to cooperate with one another to do a task such as cumulate X amount of drift, or gather atop a building only accessed via a large ramp at ground level.
At first, I didn’t care much for the multiplayer. Coming from Burnout Paradise, I expected cooperation to be the name of the game. It is not.
There is a winner for each challenge (even for contributing the most during coop activities), who receives a score, and at the end of the Speedlist the player with the most score is the winner.
The game rewards you for screwing over and shutting down your opponents at every possible opportunity, and this in a lot of ways makes Most Wanted seem like “Paradise City for assholes”, but I think the game ultimately benefits from it, as it keeps you engaged throughout your session. Where in Paradise, you’d often sigh out of boredom as each player slowly found their way to the meet up point and then you’d have to sit around awhile longer waiting for each player to finish the task, in Most Wanted the game rewards you for getting there first, doing it the best, and then taking out everyone else who attempts to do better.
It’s a terrific counter-weight to the tame by comparison experience found in the games single player.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted may lack the goofy charm of its early in the cycle named predecessor, and it might not run as smoothly or quickly as Burnout Paradise, but it makes up for it all in smart design, solid handling, and its unique multiplayer mode.


From → Games

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