The lights are on
Criterion has done a fantastic job in creating a great arcade racing game. Need for Speed Most Wanted is not a true predecessor to the original, but is a wonderful game nonetheless.
Like many have already said, Most Wanted is much more like another Burnout game with is spectacular crashes. It is a true Criterion racing game. The game has no central story. The driver is in the city of Fairhaven and at the beginning of the game a woman narrates pretty much everything you will be doing; racing to become the city's most wanted.
The game is very easy to play. Thanks to Autolog you can access all the races, mods, cars and anything else you might need without having to stop racing.
The visuals are stunning. They environment changes from daytime to nighttime has you drive and complete races. The cars look fantastic and real damage is done to your car when you crash. Personally after a while I get tired of having to take a three second break to watch my car crash. This game is not for someone with a small television. And even if you have a good sized television it can be difficult to sometimes read the screen to keep track of what you've done.
The races are great. There are about 5 races per car. Some races repeat with different cars. The different types of races are: speed run, sprint, circuit, ambush and most wanted races. Speed runs are about going as fast as you can you attain a certain speed throughout the course. And sprint is just that; a race with no laps to the finish line. A circuit is a race with laps. Ambush races are when you escape the cops in a certain amount of time. You race for speed points, which after getting so many allow you to race a most wanted car to take their place on the most wanted list.
The cop chases can be really fun when you go all out. Once in a chase you can hear the cops talking to one another so you can plan your route to escape. As your heat level increases the intensity of the race does to.
The soundtrack for the game is what I, personally, dislike the most. There are a couple of songs I enjoyed listening to but for the most part it's not good. Thankfully you can play your own playlists while you race. Before one of the updates songs played like this; they would play through from freeroaming, pause while a race loads, pause during the pre-race cut scene, and then continue playing while you actually are in the race. It sort of bothered my that it pause, but I got used to it. When they updated it, it now plays during freeroam, pauses during load and cut scene, you hear 2 seconds of the song continue and THEN it starts a new song. I hate this because personally I feel that the constant changing of songs makes you go through them faster, meaning you need more songs you listen to.
The multiplayer is something I'm not that crazy about. It's fun and all it's just not for me. You can't choose what kind of races you want to do or what types of cars you want to race with, because they are already chosen and if it says "exotics only" then you have to use and exotic car. However, the music is so much more streamline during multiplayer. It doesn't pause for loading or any other reason. There are a lot of license plates you can unlock and a couple cars that are multiplayer exclusive. It is a lot more strenuous to get mods and pro mods in mulitplayer. I'm not a big fan of how they practically had out thousands of speed points during multiplayer. It's not hard to get them in single player, but it is so much easier to do online. I guess that's their way of saying "this is why you should have an online pass".
The customization of the the cars is pretty good. If your someone who likes practically build the car from the ground up this isn't for you. There aren't any cosmetic mods like decals, body changes or things like that. You can go choose between long/short gear transmission, aero/impact body, track, off-road, reinflate tires, powershot/burn nitrous, and lightweight/reinforced chassis.
The game has a high replay value. Criterion makes you hunt for every billboard, jackspot, security game and speed camera there is if you want to have everything for this game.
This games is an over-the-top thrill ride and anyone who likes racing games should give it a try. For those who like the Burnout series this is for them. And those who wanted a true Most Wanted experience they'll have to stick with the original. Criterion has done a fantastic job with the Need for Speed franchise so far, and I look forward to what they bring next.