Need for Speed: Most Wanted Reader Review
I picked this up after hearing some good reports about it, but before the EG review was printed. I enjoyed the early NFS games, but hated Need For Speed Underground, it was duller than a dullard on a dull day doing dull things. I'd heard the cop chases were 'really good', and that in general, most of the things that were wrong with NFSU were now fixed. So, while EG don't have to pay £50 for their games, I most certainly do, and I decided to wallop such a note down on the counter of my local GAME in the hope it would be money well spent.
Not initially. I played the game for a round hour and decided that once again, it was dull as ditchwater. I laid it to one side, and reckoned I'd '10 day return' it when I got a chance. Then Kristan reviewed it for EG, and I thought to myself "Hang on, did he play a different game from me?". I noticed in his review that he said that the game really wasn't terribly good in the early moments, but that it got much, much better the further you got into the game. Was I guilty of not giving it a chance? I decided to find out and bunged the old disc back in the drive.
Three hours later I'm having a blast. I'm no longer in the crap 'starter' vehicle, and I've won the pink slip to a rivals car in a mad racing showdown. The cop chases have indeed become great fun, and the chatter of the police radio as they try and hem you in is incredibly atmospheric. At this point I felt much guilt at how I had dismissed the game so readily. You live and learn though, eh?
The graphics are on the whole excellent, with some great effects and detail. The framerate can suffer at times, but I'd hardly call it chugging, though it would have been sweet if this had been smooth throughout. The early cars are rubbish, and it's this more than anything that will put people off the game. Perseverance is key though.
The sound is the usual eclectic mix of EATrax, lucky us. The engine roars are good, but as I stated earlier, it's the cop radio chatter that can really ramp up the atmosphere levels.
The city itself opens up the more you play, with harder courses and more interesting locations, so you always have something new to play with. The FMV is great in a cheesy hamfisted kind of way, and I love the way they have overlaid the real actors to make them look as if they are video game graphics. You have to see it to get a grasp of what I'm talking about though, it's very hard to describe, but very effective.
The story is great, with you taking on 15 rivals, one after the other. Of course it's not that easy, you have to earn the right to challenge a rival, and that usually means completing a set of races, as well as various milestones. The milestones are usually along the lines of "Avoid the cops for 10 minutes, then make a succesful escape", or "Take out 5 cop cars and succesfully escape". A challenge any gamer will relish I'm sure.
In High Definition, the game is lifted up another level, with everything even more shiny than it was previously, and it's a credit to EA that they have made 'generic racer number 551' actually pretty bloody good.
I'm now about 8 hours into the game, and I've taken down 4 of the 15 blacklist drivers, and managed to nab the pink slip to 3 of their cars. I'm going to keep on playing, you know why? Because I'm simply having so much fun, and you know something else? That's why I got interested in games in the first place.
So, if you are more into fun than a steady 60fps racing game, you're going to love this mix of racing and chasing, and with the 360 version, you are getting something very lovely indeed. I hate to be boring and agree with Kristan, but it's an 8/10. A very deserving 8/10 though, and for me to give this umpteenth sequel in the NFS franchise such a high score is praise indeed.
8 / 10