Review by Enders Shadow86
"You 'Need' this game if you have a 360"
I'm not a racing game fan. I usually prefer an rpg with a good story and unforgettable characters. But once in awhile a great racing game comes out that I must play. One such game was Need for Speed Underground, which was the first of a new genre of racing games. It offered great visuals, awesome cars, and exhilarating fun. Now, two installments later in the Need for Speed series, Most Wanted offers the same exciting gameplay with some new features and the classic police chases that make it just as powerful as ever before.
The first thing you will be treated to when turning on your system is Josie Maran, the sexy model who used to be in those SI Swimsuit issues. She advises to do all your racing in the game, and then walks away with her little cute butt. Cars and girls always serve as good advertisement tools.
We're off to a really good start, I thought.
One of the first things you will notice when playing is that the basic gameplay from the previous two titles is almost completely untouched. The concept of the actual racing is the same. There are several different race types you can play including sprint, drag, speedtrap, and round knockout. One of the most innovative was the speedtrap races, in which you get clocked in different parts of the race. The racer who gets the highest total speed at these speedtraps wins the race. In sum, these different race modes keep the racing fresh and innovative. Every race feels different than the last one you completed.
Some changes have been installed in the career mode. Firstly, the free roam has been tweaked to make it much more meaningful than in either Underground 1 or 2. Before, you would have to drive to each event or shop in order to begin a race or to buy some parts for your ride. Now, there is a quick menu that will take you to races and make it much less tedious than before. But most importantly, there are police chases that set this game apart from other titles in the series.
In games of the past, you would roam around the city looking for races but it was boring and meaningless. In Most Wanted, I actually looked forward to the exploration of the environment and the police chases that would ensue if I drove recklessly. What's the best way to describe the police chases? Pure madness. The best part of it is that the more you get into police chases the more intense and fun they become, at least that's what I thought of them.
I was going 180 miles an hour through the boardwalk with a handful of cops on my tail, a helicopter overhead and roadblock set up a less than a mile down the road. I shifted my ride turning a corner to lose while dodging civilian vehicles and road debris until I found a hiding spot and heard the police scanner fade away slowly.
For every time you evade the cops successfully, you earn bounty. This means that there is a bigger reward if the cops find you and you are much more known and praised in the world of street racing. All your stats on how you did in police chases is kept in a rap sheet that records all of your infractions, best chases, cost to state, and what cars I have done each chase with. Overall, the police chases where the best part of the game.
Along with bounty, the player must win races and set milestones to advance in career mode. NFS:MW offers a Blacklist which is the better referred to as the Most Wanted List. This list is a list of 15 racers that you must defeat in order to beat the game. The top guy on the list is your arch rival, Razor, who stole your car in the opening scenes of the game. You must win races, earn bounty, and complete milestones in order to qualify to race a new member on the blacklist.
I thought there was a very good balance between the actual racing, which earns you cash, and the police chases which earn you bounty. They fit in nicely with the whole point of playing career mode and advancing the story. But having to choose between getting involved in a police chase or having an organized race was a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I wasn't in the mood for one or the other. Opening up my options made it a much more fun experience.
Another incentive playing career mode was earning cash to pimp my ride or simply buy new ones. Making performance and visual upgrades to your car works basically the same as it did before. With the money you earn, you can change the parts of your car, the performance parts, or the visual aspects like color, decals, and vinyl. The options are endless and it's really addictive to come up with new combinations of your own visual designs.
The detail in the car models is superb, especially on the 360. Cars shine when they are in the garage and look realistically scratched up after banging into a wall or a police car.
NFS: MW does a great job with presentation. It all leads to a very atmospheric game. The graphics look amazing as you speed through at 100+ miles an hour. Most of the things on the road are tangible and you'll be hitting things like trees, gates, garbage cans and bags, fire hydrants and more.
The graphical details in the environment are amazing and each building looks unique. There are hundreds of models of civilian cars and each one has a different effect on your driving. If you hit a small car head on, you might just blast through it. But hitting an 18 wheeler basically puts you in reverse. The whole concept of having the cities connected and part of a whole world is great. As you continue through the story you unlock new areas in the world map and thus have more places to explore and new parts of the world to take your police chases to. No two places look exactly the same either.
I was amazed at the detailed effects that made the environments feel more realistic. The streets look like real roads and highways. In the 360 version, the day progresses and it gets slightly darker but never truly dark. But just how it feels in real life to drive into the sun, if you do it in NFS:MW, you'll get glare in your face and you won't be able to see what's in front of you very well.
The sound is another asset to the atmospheric quality of NFS:MW. Engines sound loud and realistic as does the major crashes you have with other cars. The police chases offer a great perplexity of sounds that make the experience seem very authentic. Cop sirens from numerous cops will be going off as cops report in on your status. For example, in what part of the game, I took the police into a golf course and a cop on the radio said He's off into the gold course, I'm gonna try to box him in over. It's quite amazing to see how responsive the police dialogue is to my criminal actions.
In conclusion, this game is great on any system and worth a purchase if you are a fan of the genre, series, or just fun games in general. The game is purely entertainment and the police chases alone make it worth a ride. The Xbox 360 version is a little better due to a little more graphical detail, but most of the graphical differences are subtle and hard to catch anyways. This game may not be the greatest racer ever, but it surely makes its argument.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/02/06
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