Generally favorable reviews - based on 49 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 49
  2. Negative: 0 out of 49
  1. Oct 30, 2012
    If you desire structure, if you wanted a game to be meted out to you, you might find its instant freedom somewhat overwhelming. But Most Wanted is all about deviation and deviance. It's the racing game for people who don't tend to like racing games.
  2. Oct 30, 2012
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted isn't quite a return to the racing paradise of some earlier Criterion games, but it's a mostly exciting ride nonetheless.
  3. Oct 26, 2012
    Sometimes while playing Most Wanted I was confused what to do next due to the sheer volume of opportunities. I was even frustrated at times when seemingly out of nowhere, a civilian car clogged up the last turn of a particularly high-tension race, causing me to eat metal instead of grabbing victory. But part of the beauty of this game is that there is no such thing as an unfair ending. Whether you're dominating your opponents or barrel rolling your way through a race, you're getting what you wanted – a game, that win or lose, goes all out getting there.
  4. Oct 30, 2012
    Its sense of character may be not be as forceful as Criterion's other games - but the sense of competition that informs it, the joy of discovery and the plain pleasure of driving haven't been dimmed in the slightest. This isn't quite paradise, but it comes very close.
  5. Nov 6, 2012
    As a single-player game, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is simply good.
  6. Nov 6, 2012
    All in all Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the Need for Speed game that fans of the series have been clamoring for, for quite some time. It mixes a formula of both old school ideas and new ones, creating an experience that mixes well and will certainly appeal to a wide audience and gear heads. The game is fast, huge, and most importantly…fun, and part of its charm is not taking itself too seriously. Need for Speed is back, and we welcome you with open arms.
  7. Nov 25, 2012
    An exciting, well-constructed racer, coated in a sheen of vein-popping frustrations. [Christmas 2012, p.72]
  8. Oct 26, 2012
    Criterion just did it again. This is one of the best driving games we've seen in the last few years. Full of content and with many hours of fun waiting for us, no matter if we're playing alone or online. It shows that probably the only way to improve an open-world title is waiting for a more powerful hardware, since Criterion can only beat itself. Definitely a must-have.
  9. Oct 30, 2012
    A challenging game with some handling issues that bug me at times and framerate problems that bug me every time they crop up. However, the overall greatness of the game easily overshadows those comparably small complaints.
  10. Nov 6, 2012
    Criterion Games brings the fire here in this Frankenstein's monster amalgamation of Burnout and Need for Speed. The buttery smooth controls, multitude of unlockable rides/upgrades, and ever-alluring draw of besting your friends' times, not to mention the forward-thinking CloudCompete, come together to offer one of the finest arcade racing experiences out there.
  11. Nov 2, 2012
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise with the license behind it. This is not a bad thing; in fact it does more good for the game than anything. Criterion knows how to make fun and accessible racers, and MW is no exception. If you enjoy these types of games I cannot recommend the game enough.
  12. Oct 30, 2012
    You could argue that the crashes don't match the drama of the chase, the camera angles often failing to relay the complete destruction of your vehicle. The handling might feel a little too forced towards the arcade side of things and perhaps some players will feel that they've played this game already thanks to the many hours they put into Burnout Paradise. But there's no denying that Criterion is the master of its craft, and Most Wanted is its biggest and best effort yet.
  13. 85
    Most Wanted delivers raucous entertainment in spades, whether you're battling Fairhaven City's finest in the campaign or dueling network competition in serious races and silly trick competitions. After years of revisiting Burnout Paradise's recurring playground, we finally have a fresh racing addiction to keep us hooked until Criterion's next seemingly inevitable open-road opus.
  14. Oct 31, 2012
    Criterion has made no attempt to disguise the fact they're making a game designed to be played socially, so it's no surprise that Most Wanted only gets better once you party up.
  15. Nov 2, 2012
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted is yet another solid release from Criterion Games. It's full of memorable events, amazing visuals and the best online multiplayer racing action around. Unfortunately, it's also in the shadows of a much better racing game. Most Wanted is a fun game, but it never fully lives up to its potential!
  16. Oct 30, 2012
    Fans of Criterion's previous games were clear in what they wanted, and in turn, Criterion themselves were clear in what they were making. There are some scrapes with single-player and a lack of polish here and there, but the multiplayer delivers in such a big way that all of this hardly matters. Need for Speed Most Wanted is that big, crazy, crash-y open-world racer you've been asking for.
  17. Oct 30, 2012
    Criterion has done the impossible – they've taken what is, arguably, the best race-and-chase game made for this generation and somehow made it so much better.
  18. Nov 13, 2012
    Burnout Paradise, revised and improved in every aspect. Not a classic Need for Speed. Still, one of the most interesting arcade racers of this generation.
  19. Nov 22, 2012
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted has every right to be on your most wanted wish list this Christmas.
  20. Dec 12, 2012
    A technically sound and entertaining sandbox for arcade racers. The name should be Need for Burnout, though. [Dec 2012]
  21. Nov 19, 2012
    Most Wanted succeeds because it is all about the driving and the driving is excellent. It's Burnout with a name that will sell. And that's a pretty good thing.
  22. Nov 2, 2012
    The latest Criterion's effort is a compelling racing game in the likes of Burnout Paradise and Hot Pursuit, that deserves all the attention of street racing games fans. Worshipers of the original Most Wanted beware, though: this is not exactly the Most Wanted 2 you were waiting for.
  23. Oct 30, 2012
    After the Hot Persuit remake lifted the Need for Speed franchise to new heights, Criterion does it again with Most Wanted. The emphasis on free-roaming, social interaction and over-the-top action with impressive cars make the new Most Wanted a very refreshing racing game. Everyone who likes speed and competition, even in the slightest of forms, owes it to themselves to play this game.
  24. Oct 30, 2012
    While some of the interface experiments are hit or miss, the gameplay in Need for Speed: Most Wanted provides a solid mix of heart-in-your throat speed and playful discovery. Whether you're weaving through traffic or lining up for big air, Most Wanted's densely-packed automotive playground is fun to explore on your own, and really comes alive with friends.
  25. Nov 2, 2012
    Criterion Games has developed the best arcade driving game of this generation. It is fun, fast, crazy and offers thousands of different options. One of the most remarkable aspects is the online mode up to 8 players in the same Fairhaven.
  26. Jan 11, 2013
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted is caught between two worlds. The game can't quite decide if it wants to be an arcade or a simulation racing game, and it takes a lot to get used to this in-between zone it occupies. That said, once the adjustment period is over, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had when it's not being frustrating.
  27. 80
    A compelling argument not just for Criterion's continued stewardship of Need for Speed - assuming Hot Pursuit left you in any doubt on that front - but for the reproduction of those inescapable, irresistible online features across rival genres.
  28. Oct 30, 2012
    Criterion successfully blended its own style with the Need for Speed one - if you're not into scrutiny of the details. The fun is there, thanks to very accessible, arcade-y driving, and constant challenges to take on both in solo and multiplayer modes. But it's still difficult to excuse some shortcomings like the lack of visibility on some races, and poorly balanced take-downs that break the pace of the game more often than not.
  29. 90
    Simply put, it's Criterion's most accomplished racer. [Issue#91, p.74]
  30. Oct 30, 2012
    Criterion Games have once again proved that they're the pinnacle development team at Electronic Arts and will lead the Need for Speed franchise into a brighter future. While there are some shortcomings, such as poor map navigation and some rubber-banding issues, Most Wanted is an adrenaline-pumping racer that will leave you with sweaty palms.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 256 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 71
  2. Negative: 31 out of 71
  1. Nov 1, 2012
    Disappointing. I'll keep it short and sweet. I'll start with the good. This game is pretty to look at. Music is good. Excellent marketing. NowDisappointing. I'll keep it short and sweet. I'll start with the good. This game is pretty to look at. Music is good. Excellent marketing. Now the bad. Control is sluggish. It's like Criterion couldn't decide if they wanted to make this a sim or arcade and left it limbo. No visual customization options. You can't even choose color, decals, rims, etc. NO CANDY PAINT :(
    Automatic transmission. Period. You do not have the option for manual transmission. No story. Not even a effort to make a story. Earn points to race other cars. That's it. Must FIND cars to acquire them OR earn points by racing then beat another car only then will you earn another car. Only 2 camera views. No fine tuning .for example: adjusting turning/handling, braking, acceleration, height, spoiler height. etc. While in free roam or race GENTLY bump another car or wall or anything and car is wrecked. Cannot deactivate crash camera. Tons of time wasted watching yourself crash. Only through mini-map are tracks clearly designed. Some maps have the assist arrows to go >>. Most don't and you end up barreling through a intersection and find yourself going the wrong way. rent this game. Don't waste your hard earned cash on this like I did. My two cents. I have no idea why so many game sites are giving this game high marks. My only guess is EA supports their website through ads ... and lots of them. If the reviewer doesn't play ball they, take away all that support. This game does not deserve to have the "Most Wanted" title. Stick with the 2005 classic , not this garbage.
    Full Review »
  2. Oct 30, 2012
    The only need for speed that i loved is most wanted(the original). This one has no dna of the late game but is more for me a mod of burnoutThe only need for speed that i loved is most wanted(the original). This one has no dna of the late game but is more for me a mod of burnout paradise. The visual is awesome but the gameplay is noticably different from the original. There is no spot tha you can use to destroy police car like construction site or fuel tank or the giant donut of a restaurant. You can ram into a car at full speed while being chase and it does not even imobilise you . You just can continue the pursuit like nothing passed. Its so easy to beat that a four years old kidd would not have any trouble passing thru the whole game. If you have a young kidd it would be a good start for him. (after telling him not to behave like that in the future.) If u like burnout paradise and nice car and the graphics is more important for you than the gameplay,than this game is for you. If you like driving challenge or just plain fun of destroying police car than you can play the original need for speed most wanted like i did today. Full Review »
  3. Oct 31, 2012
    While some (including myself) may question EA's decision in naming this "Most Wanted", one cannot deny that Criterion (as usual) produced aWhile some (including myself) may question EA's decision in naming this "Most Wanted", one cannot deny that Criterion (as usual) produced a stellar, addicting racing game. Sure, it's not the same as 2005's Most Wanted, but it's still a fun, gorgeous, fantastic racing game, easily one of the best of the year. Full Review »