Generally favorable reviews - based on 49 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 49
  2. Negative: 0 out of 49
  1. 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.
  2. Dec 12, 2012
    A technically sound and entertaining sandbox for arcade racers. The name should be Need for Burnout, though. [Dec 2012]
  3. Dec 4, 2012
    An open world street racer set in an interesting city. There's a lot of things to do, but they get pretty repetitive after a while. The autolog for online competition is brilliant though.
  4. 90
    Simply put, it's Criterion's most accomplished racer. [Issue#91, p.74]
  5. Nov 27, 2012
    Each year we are given a new Need for Speed title and this has been one of the best in a long while.
  6. Nov 26, 2012
    By giving each car its separate missions, Need for Speed: Most Wanted introduces a fresh new way to experience open world racers. You will be pushed to use new vehicles, though it is a shame that unlocked upgrades are somewhat useless because of this.
  7. Nov 25, 2012
    An exciting, well-constructed racer, coated in a sheen of vein-popping frustrations. [Christmas 2012, p.72]
  8. Nov 22, 2012
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted has every right to be on your most wanted wish list this Christmas.
  9. 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.
  10. Nov 14, 2012
    If you're used to the classic NfS style with its extreme customization and its barebones arcade style, Criterion's game could reveal itself as an unwelcome change; however, despite some not very good gameplay choices it's a very entertaining and engaging racing game.
  11. 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.
  12. Nov 12, 2012
    The presentation is mostly right on, and the gameplay feels on par with Criterion's best work.
  13. 75
    A fantastic racing game at its core, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is let down by too few race types and a multiplayer mode with somewhat limited appeal. Joyriding around Fairhaven can be fun in its own right, but there's simply too little real meat on Most Wanted's bones. Most Wanted? Nearly, but not quite. Criterion can do and has done better.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Nov 6, 2012
    As a single-player game, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is simply good.
  17. Nov 5, 2012
    This dumb, loud, fast, silly, sexy car porn is eminently gratifying. Well done, Criterion. This is the game I've been waiting for you to make since Burnout.
  18. 85
    Although far from being technically perfect, Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a solid arcade racing experience. Whether solo or within its unique approach to multiplayer there is more than enough here to keep players entertained for a long time.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Nov 2, 2012
    This is not quite Need for Speed nor quite Burnout Paradise. But nonetheless this is an entertaining high gloss racer with adrenaline injection. Solo you might want to look for something else, but if you're into wild and crazy online chases you will get lost in Fairhaven.
  22. 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.
  23. 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!
  24. Nov 2, 2012
    The developer sought to bring freedom to the racing genre, both with the overall structure and the ability to drive almost any car immediately, and they nailed that goal from the opening moments. Yet for all the hard work that was clearly put into realizing an open world, enough issues (re)surface that they undo much of the studio's hard work. Cars don't really handle differently, they just drive faster.
  25. 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.
  26. Oct 30, 2012
    Most Wanted pulled me in more than nearly any racing game this generation, despite the shoddy AI and issues elsewhere.
  27. Oct 30, 2012
    The single-player game lacks a bit of structure and the multiplayer is certainly chaotic at first, but the game excels in providing socially connected racing that gets under the skin.
  28. Oct 30, 2012
    If you stick to the online mode, have a good group of friends to share the road with, and love fast, sexy cars, you'll probably enjoy the game. It's not incredibly deep, so look elsewhere to scratch that driving itch, but it works for a quick, pulse-pounding hit of action and adrenaline...It's a shame the poor design that plagues the offline mode is so ingrained into the fundamental fabric of the gameplay.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 247 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 68
  2. Negative: 30 out of 68
  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. 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 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 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 »