Review by Oggy00

"It's got great graphics, cool cars, and the police chases from past games, but it misses out on one thing......... LIFE!!!"

*Note: This review is for the Black Edition of Most Wanted, but many review aspects relate to the normal game as well...*

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the Need For Speed series. The game has always focused around driving at high speeds and avoiding cops. In 2003, the Need For Speed series took on a new direction, stepping into the new culture of import tuning. While the Underground games were fun, they lacked a staple element of the series, cops. Last year, EA Games took the racing back to the daytime scene and combined the two best parts of the series. It brought back the cops from the old "Hot Pursuit" series, and kept the new car customizing feature that we came to know and love in the two recent Underground games. The Black Edition came with a few extras, such as a lovely DVD with a few neat videos, and about 10 different bonus cars to race right out of the box. However, even with great graphics, and the cops returning, it's best to pass up this edition of Need For Speed...

Gameplay: 7/10 - Need For Speed Most Wanted plays okay. Most of the elements, such as the gas, brake, hand-brake, and boost buttons return here. The one new control element in this game is the "Speedbreaker" move, where your car slips into a bullet-time like slo-mo move. The car is easier to control, and it's a handy way of taking sharp turns and avoiding cops. The game regenerates both boost and speedbreaker meters automatically, so there's no need for stylish driving like in Underground 2. The cars also feel a bit lighter, which makes them generally easier to control. This is a great fix, as I felt the past few games have had cars that are nearly impossible to control at high speeds....BUT, it still has the stupid unresponsive steering that has plagued the series since 2002.

With the cops returning this year, it has to be one of the most exciting features of this year's game. The cops are a lot smarter than they were in 2002. They will team up on you, and will set roadblocks and call for backup forces at the right times. The radio chatter is also done very well, and they will do what they are saying they will do. Yes, the codes aren't the actual ones used by real cops, but it still sounds cool. While the cops are a force to be reckoned with in Career mode, they are completely absent in single race mode. This killed the game for me, as I was hoping to use the 1969 Camaro (one of the bonus cars that came with the Black Edition) against the cops. But for the most part, if you were excited about the cops returning, well...good! You should be!

Career is the main mode in Most Wanted. For the first time in 10 years, Need For Speed has a story. You're some young guy looking to go racing in "Rockport", and you get your ride stolen. With 30,000 in cash, it's up to you to get a car and go racing. Yep, not a very unique story, but an entertaining one, as it is played out by live action cutscenes. The cutscenes aren't that great, but it still helps develop the story...at the beginning at least. These scenes are almost non-existent later on in the game. So, anyways, after loading up career and getting your ride taken from you, you get a choice of about 3 cars to begin your career. A Chevy Cobalt? A Fiat? A Lexus? Wait, I thought this was a game different from Underground! The game has 32 cars, but the more expensive ones (and the ones you're most likely to want) have to be unlocked by playing through the game. By the time you're halfway done, you'll be too attached to your Fiat to buy a Viper or a Corvette. Also, the cars that come bonus with the black edition can't actually be bought in Career mode, which is pretty lame. After buying a car, the game begins, and surprise! It's exactly like Underground 2! You have to win races to earn a chance against racing the Boss Racers, and that's about it! The city is a lot bigger this time around, but it's impossible to get around without consulting your map. This is partially because of a warp-to-garage function that lets you jump to the races quicker without racing around the city. And guess what! It's brought ti you by Cingular! The cops come in here and there, but they're mostly to get your bounty and ratings up. The blacklist guys only want to run against true bad guys. Your car also plays an important factor. Not changing parts often will help the cops recognize you, and they will hunt you down as your bounty increases. Each new heat level (which is attained by driving like a maniac) puts you against tougher cops in faster cars. But while changing parts may sound easy, it's really not, thanks to the slim amount of money you get from winning each race. As for the free-roaming world, it's really not that good at all. Once the world opens up later on in Career, it's almost impossible to memorize each and every road, and this leads to blind driving during police chases. Another thing, is that one area has more emphasis put on it than the others. You'll find yourself racing more in Rosewood than all of the other areas combined. In all, career is a big let down, and it doesn't help that some features (such as some cars not being able to be used, no set difficulty) aren't in here...

The other main mode in Most Wanted would be the Challenge Series. 69 different challenges await you, such as avoiding cops for a certain amount of time, but they're just repeats of earlier ones with different cars, which is a big letdown.

There are 5 types of racing in Most Wanted. Circuit, Drag, Sprint, Lap Knockout, and the only new one, Speed-Trap. For some reason, Toll Booth racing isn't in single race, even though it plays a big part in Career. Another thing about single race, is that there is no free roam with cops, unlike Career mode and Underground 2. Also, there is almost no variation in tracks. Almost all of them take place in the small area you start in. I'd like a route creator next year, similar to PGR 3's. So far, EA has left out a ton of features. That still leaves the customizing part as good...right? Nope, EA took out a ton of parts, leaving just the basic full Body Kits, Spoilers, Roof Scoops (honestly, who uses these???), and hoods. The performance parts are still all there, but there's only a few choices for vinyls, paints (a mouse glitch sometimes prevents you from choosing the metallic and custom paint schemes) and decals. There are also a ton of cars missing from this game to stop it from making an all-star cast. Ferarris, Nissans, and SUV's are all missing from this years game. Honestly, how did a FIAT make it into here? For Online, it's not bad, but only 4 cars can race at one time, and the interface is very clunky. Yes, we all know disconnecting from a lobby will help us lose all our progress, but do we have to be warned every time? Plus, there's a lot of lag online, and cheating. Don't get me started on cheating...

So, yes the cops are back and better than ever, but what about all the other stuff that we liked? Guess we'll have to wait another year to finish this game of hide and seek...

Graphics: 10/10 - Most Wanted is a beautiful game. They nailed the motion blur this year, and each area of town looks like it should. The industrial section has a haze, and downtown looks like downtown. The cars also look amazing, and have stunning paint schemes. Yes, there is a bit of slowdown during chases, but it's such a good looking game, I'm just going to ignore that...

Sound: 5/10 - Horrible sound! The music in this game is full of instrumentals, and most of the songs are either hard rock or something emo. The cars sound okay, but there is no difference in the engine after buying an upgrade. The cop chatter is about the only thing good about the sound...

Final: 7.1/10.0 - Most Wanted isn't a bad game, it just isn't that fun beyond the cop chases. The sound is bad, a lot of features are missing compared to past games in the series, and the fact that almost half the cars aren't even able to take on the police in career mode just makes for an empty game. If you haven't played the NFS series in a while, it's a good idea to pick this one up. However, if you own both Underground games, it's best to let this one pass. There's just not enough to keep it interesting...


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/26/09

Game Release: Need for Speed: Most Wanted Black Edition (US, 11/15/05)


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