Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

Spotlight

What's going on at Criterion?

Matt Webster on the possibility of paid alphas, its new prototype and, of course, Burnout.

Digital FoundryNeed for Speed: Most Wanted DFPC Performance Video

See how Need for Speed: Most Wanted stacks up on the 300 Digital Foundry PC running at 1366x768 and full 1080p.

Key events

Nintendo asked Burnout dev to make Wii U F-Zero

UPDATE: Criterion was also offered Forza, Mad Max and more.

UPDATE 23/06/2015 5.34pm: Criterion founder Alex Ward noted on Twitter that the Burnout studio was also offered the opportunity to work on the first Forza, Mad Max, a Vauxhall only racer, a Command & Conquer FPS and a Gone in 60 Seconds game.

EA announces free game giveaway for all PlayStation owners

EA announces free game giveaway for all PlayStation owners

NFS! Mirror's Edge! PVZ! But you'll need to be quick.

EA is giving away three titles from its back catalogue in celebration of this weekend's PlayStation Experience event.

The trio of games are Need for Speed: Most Wanted on PlayStation Vita, Mirror's Edge on PlayStation 3 and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare for PlayStation 4.

But you'll need to be quick - the games will only be free to download until the event's end tomorrow.

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What's going on at Criterion?

Matt Webster on the possibility of paid alphas, its new prototype and, of course, Burnout.

Criterion is in a state. The once mighty Guildford studio has been hobbled by the transferral of the Need for Speed series to the Gothenburg-based Ghost Games, as well as the departure of its racing-focussed staff who formed Ghost UK and, more pertinently, the departure of two of its founding members, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry.

Face-Off: Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Wii U

If there's any developer ready to give brand new console hardware a fair shake, it's Criterion Games. From Burnout Paradise to its celebrated reinventions of the Need for Speed series, the studio has an impeccable record turning in tightly matched games on 360 and PS3 platforms alike, with no-one left wanting. With the hotly anticipated Wii U version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted it aims to go one better. By no means a straight port, the boat is being pushed out much further this time with its suite of unique GamePad features, improved PC-grade textures courtesy of the console's 1GB of RAM, and a greatly revamped approach to its night-time lighting.

So can this new edition truly be taken as the definitive version? In our original Face-Off feature, it was inevitably the PC version that offered the greatest number of perks in resolution, shadow quality, reflection mapping and object draw distance. However, the two console versions held up to the Guildford studio's long-held standards for parity, with only an occasional lead in frame-rate on Sony's platform dividing the two in the final tally. One immediate benefit of waiting an extra five months for the Wii U version is the inclusion of the first 'Unlimited Speed' DLC pack as standard, plus any basic engine refinements that had been applied to these initial releases.

Alas, these optimisations aren't all included on the disc, and booting the game still demands a sizable 156MB patch install to bring the version up to 1.1.0. With everything set up though, we pit the visual quality of this release against the PC, 360 and PS3 versions with the head-to-head video below - plus our quad-format comparison gallery. Due to the dynamic nature of the game's day-night cycle, it is worth noting that there are minor differences in shadow positions at various points.

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Digital FoundryNeed for Speed: Most Wanted vs. PlayStation Vita

How well can cutting-edge games run on Sony's handheld? Digital Foundry talks to Criterion Games.

In an ongoing series of articles, Digital Foundry takes an in-depth look at the most high-profile PlayStation Vita releases, talking with the developers and gaining new perspective on what it's like creating games for Sony's brilliant - but underperforming - handheld. In this second instalment, our focus is Need for Speed: Most Wanted, one of the most fascinating games available for the platform. Criterion Games' objective here was ambitious: to incorporate PlayStation Vita into the cross-platform development workflow of what turned out to be one of the most technologically advanced current-gen games on the market. As you might expect from the Guildford studio, the result isn't just a great game but a remarkable technological achievement.

Back on track: the UK racing scene revival

How UK's racing talent rose from the ashes.

Motor racing, despite its roots in France, its scarlet red Italian heart and its current domination at the top tier by a German and a Spaniard, is a very British affair. In the heart of England, amidst the pockets of nondescript countryside of Banbury, Oxford and Woking there's the self-titled Motorsport Valley, where a large part of the global circus that's F1 calls home.

UK chart: Assassin's Creed 3 top, second biggest launch of the year

UK chart: Assassin's Creed 3 top, second biggest launch of the year

Ubisoft's leap of faith rewarded with best sales of the series.

Assassin's Creed 3 has topped the UK charts with the best sales of the series to date. It was the biggest launch in publisher Ubisoft's history and the second biggest launch of any game in the UK this year (behind FIFA 13).

It doubled the launch week sales of Assassin's Creed 2, and beat last year's Revelations by over 117,000 copies.

Wow.

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Need for Speed Most Wanted review

Need for Speed Most Wanted review

Better to reign in hell.

This isn't paradise. Most Wanted's host city of Fairhaven is a gritty, aggressively urban location; industrial parks stretch out into docklands and construction sites, while the city centre is a chaos of scaffolding and concrete. Criterion's second run at the Need for Speed brand may evoke the much-loved Burnout Paradise with its open-world setting, but this is a game that's kept grounded by its licences, and one that feels almost po-faced by comparison.

Pitch it up against Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and it feels different again. Whereas 2010's game had its eyes fixed intently on the horizon, Fairhaven's web of highways, side streets and alleys sees the focus shift away from pure speed, resulting in a game that's broader but never quite as thrilling. Most Wanted straddles two of Criterion's greatest racers, but while Hot Pursuit felt like a delicious collision of two disparate brands, there's a lot more compromise going on here.

Most Wanted's never less than entertaining, though. Those first moments spent investigating Fairhaven's roads are intoxicating. Criterion's stuffed the city with things to discover: secret gates can be smashed through, billboards invite you to leap through them, while the game's garage sits waiting to be discovered at various points across the map.

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Most Wanted: A Criterion Game, but is it Need for Speed or Burnout?

Joao spends a few hours with a near-final version on Xbox 360.

Whether you relish Burnout 2's race bias or harbour a secret penchant for the chaotic atmosphere of Burnout Revenge instead, you can't argue against Criterion's record turning out enjoyable driving games. But this isn't Burnout, it's the developer's re-imagining of the once-popular Need for Speed: Most Wanted, so should we be looking somewhere else for comparisons?

Playable EA games at Eurogamer Expo 2012 revealed

Need for Speed, SimCity, Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Medal of Honor, FIFA 13.

Playable EA games at the Eurogamer Expo 2012 next month include Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, SimCity and FIFA 13.

New Need for Speed: Most Wanted Autolog 2.0 details

New Need for Speed: Most Wanted Autolog 2.0 details

Criterion plans Battlelog-style website.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted will feature the second generation of Autolog, developer Criterion's nifty social racing service.

Autlog 2.0's news feed will be available to view online, with a variety of functions planned.

You'll be able to browse race recommendations, tag events to play when you next boot up the game, plus share and comment on pictures. It sounds similar to EA's online Battlelog service, which tracked all sorts of statistics from Battlefield 3.

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted release date

Need for Speed: Most Wanted release date

UPDATE: PlayStation Vita version confirmed.

Criterion's second take on the Need for Speed franchise, a reboot of Most Wanted, made an impressive debut at EA's E3 press conference - and got a firm release date to boot.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted seemingly shares plenty of DNA with Criterion's Burnout series, with a live demonstration showing a vast open world that played host to destructive racing.

Like Burnout Paradise, races have a start and end point but are granted freedom to pick their routes.

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EA's E3 2012 Conference

All the stories. Need for Speed Most Wanted steals the show.

Update: The EA conference is now over and yielded a number of announcements:

EA confirms Dead Space 3, new Need For Speed: Most Wanted

EA confirms Dead Space 3, new Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Promises more unannounced titles will be at E3.

UPDATE: The first screen from Most Wanted has just slipped out - see below.

ORIGINAL STORY: EA has finally gone ahead and confirmed that both Dead Space 3 and a new Criterion-developed Need For Speed: Most Wanted are on their way.

Both games will be showcased at the publisher's E3 conference on Monday, "as well as titles not yet announced".

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