Average User Score: 5.7Oct 31, 2012This is the review to explain all the other reviews! Perhaps my background might help you judge how valuable this review is. I am a huge NFS fan, and I have been playing it since Porsche Unleashed, before the first Hot Pursuit. I have not played every NFS game because many have been duds. I am not a huge fan of sim-racing, I do prefer arcade racing, so Burnout: Paradise was one of my favorite driving games to date. Hopefully that gives you an idea of where I'm coming from.
The original Most Wanted was one of my favorite NFS games that I ever played. I could tell early on that this was not a successor to that in so many ways. For example, no interactive environment. You might remember the original MW had police chase breakers, where you could drive into areas on your map listed with a triangle and it would slow down cops by a giant plastic donut dropping from a restaurant logo, or perhaps a gas station blowing up. Well, nothing like that here.
I wouldn't say that the police chases are non-consequential as others have said, but they're nearly non-consequential. They exist merely to entertain and/or irritate. The cars handle reasonably well, although still not as arcadey as they did in Burnout: Paradise, and they don't have a wealth of difference between them all, other than the feeling of weight, and of course: speed.
So why the sharp difference in reviews? Perhaps some felt that this would revive the NFS franchise after The Run? It certainly won't do that. While it doesn't have a clunky narrative that gets in the way like The Run, it doesn't have... anything. Any story at all. Yes, I know this is Criterion and they never promised a story, etc. But it does feel sorely missing, especially in a game called Most Wanted where they took a game with a decent (albeit cheesy) story and attempted to remake it. So for fans that are looking for a reboot for NFS, it sadly does not start here.
What about for those looking for the successor of Most Wanted? Again, no! This is not it. Most Wanted (the original) was a really great game. You jumped in, and you felt part of the game. The story held it all together, and the cop chases were great. You really were interested in lowering your heat level, or driving around for 10 minutes to find a pursuit breaker and then a cool-down spot, only to be detected at the last minute. Paying huge fines or customizing your car really made you feel like your character... you were invested! There was gain and loss, so winning felt like success, not simply the "next step". In short: there is none of that here. No customization, which personally I can live with in Burnout, but it doesn't fly here! The single-player campaign which was so exhilarating in MW (original) barely exists here. While they matched the joy of simply driving around and taking in the sights, not much else meets the 7-year old marker left by the original, which is sad given the age difference between the two products. Junior should be beating up the dad, but it just doesn't happen.
So then, that leaves us with one last group of people... the group of people I fall into: people looking for a spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise. Before even buying the game I knew all of the above. None of that surprises me... but I was looking for the next Burnout Paradise. Even after 100 solid hours of gameplay on Burnout Paradise to get all your trophies, etc, you still had a lengthy online play-life because helping others complete their challenges or stunt runs with new challengers was always a joy. Hell, it still is! And now Criterion are coming out with a brand new game where they've focused EVEN MORE energy into multiplayer. Sign me up, amirite?!? Well - multiplayer has some advantages here and some disadvantages. Advantages is that competition is drummed up much more through results being everywhere, and of course the famed billboard pics. This is great - perhaps it would be more great if I played online with my known friends, but since I play online more with random people it doesn't pack the same punch. Be that as it may, online multiplayer is where this game is at... although without the longevity of challenges stunt runs and gameplay elements like this, I can't see it matching Paradise for long. It should be noted that MW doesn't have individual Freeburn challenges like in Paradise either, but speed lists which are a lot more clunky, and frustrating should people drop out. No more 1 minute challenges... you're signing up for 10 - 20 minutes each time.
So, why the vast difference in reviews? Perhaps someone was expecting one of the above scenarios to be true. The fact is, this isn't a turning point for NFS, it's not a better game than Most Wanted (original) and it's not better than Paradise. Still, the amalgum here is still good in it's own right. Great graphics, new challenges online, fun competition, but still: an overwhelming missed opportunity. See Praxiss review for everything I couldn't write here!… Expand