Average User Score: 5.8Nov 3, 2012The biggest mistake I made going into this game is making the presumption that this would be a Need For Speed game. I also foolishly presumedThe biggest mistake I made going into this game is making the presumption that this would be a Need For Speed game. I also foolishly presumed it would be in the same vein as its namesake, the 2005 hit Need For Speed: Most Wanted. I'd like to start by first listing a few things that game had that made it so appealing.
-A storyline that was illustrated through both CGI and live action cinematics, text messages and voicemails.
-Characterisation of adversaries that provided incentive.
-Unscripted police presence and chases during races.
-Unique and inventive racing modes.
-Varied destructible environments including vivid large-scale props to break up police chases.
-A well balanced currency system.
-A stripped down (compared to Underground 2) but still highly in-depth customisation system that included car performance, visual alterations and body modification.
-An ongoing heat system that related to specific cars in a realistic manner.
-Easy access to in-depth chase records.
-Clear, relevant and varied police chatter.
-A wide range of police tactics and vehicles.
-Excellent AI scaling.
-Repercussions from getting BUSTED.
-A prologue that adequately explains game mechanics and allows players to trial as they are eased into free roam gameplay.
-A city that felt varied, inspired and easy to navigate.
-A sensical GPS system that allowed instant and easy navigation.
-A choice between automatic and manual.
-A small degree of music player customisation.
Go into Critereon's Most Wanted knowing that it has none of this. What you're getting is a bland and decidedly dated feeling free roaming racer. It follows mechanics more akin to Burnout than NFS. This isn't a huge problem, but it is so grating when expecting a different franchise. The city is uninspired, more like something from a GTA-knock off than one of the beautiful cities from Carbon, Most Wanted or even Underground 2. They have stripped back any customisation in all facets to nil for the bro audience. Their alternative is drive-through repair shops (much like the Pay 'n' Spray spots in earlier GTAs) which choose a new car colour for you and repair the small visible damage.
Most of your time between races is spent eliminating 'collectibles'. These are repetitive billboards and fences half-assedly hidden around the boxed in game world. What's more, the billboards all promote EA and its bought companies. They couldn't even bother creating fictional in-game companies and the few little sparks of character around the world are repeated to the point of mundanity. Seeing 'FML' on a building isn't funny the first time, it won't be the next hundred times either.
The visuals are good if not at the level expected of a 2012 game but the load times will remind you of how far this game stretches to meet these standards. The cars handle like cartoon vehicles, more like Mario Kart handling than anything NFS have done previously and players will suffer from bizarre unpredictabilities in the nuances of turning corners that the rival racer AI (which never seems to change) never suffer. The police chases are awful. Easy and unvaried. The time it takes to build heat (which resets every time a pursuit ends) is not worth it just to get into a fulfilling chase.
What really hurts this game is a lack of story. I know that, as a racing game it's not required, but what replaces it is a weak, tinny intro speech that tells you nothing before you're thrown into your first car. After this point, you can do whatever you want. Some people may like the sound of this, but keep in mind doing 'what you want' involves either finding another insta-gain car, smashing one of four possible environment props, entering a chase, or racing in one of the three staple racing modes (time trial, sprint and circuit. yawn). This is fun, don't get me wrong, but for three hours. You have no incentive to race the 10 cars on the Most Wanted list (a pale impression of 2005's MW Blacklist which involved characters with visually unique vehicles) other than to collect another car that feels almost no different and can't be customised to look any differently to the rest.
The game fails on some very basic mechanics too. Terrible mini-map system, difficult navigation in and out of races (you will lose so many races because there is NO INDICATION to turn unless it's extra unclear in which case the devs popped in a little band-aid arrow border) and the GPS doesn't help at all. You cannot even choose between automatic and manual. It's automatic all the way with uncustomisable music so you can nod your head to 2009's top 20 bro-tunes while you bro-steer through a cardboard cutout environment.
In short, this game isn't worth your money. It's about $30 worth of solid fun and there's still something to be said there. This game isn't entirely awful, but it's unfinished and there's no reason to have ever called it NFS or MW. It feels like false advertising.… Expand