Let’s just call it what it is. Need for Speed: Most Wanted is Burnout Paradise part 2 and I’m OK with that. After all, I adored Burnout: Paradise and I’m normally not into the racing genre as much as I used to be. The reason behind Need for Speed being the way it is, is that Criterion, the creators of Paradise, are the ones who came up with the latest NFS installment. And man, lucky for the franchise they did. Because we have to face facts; Need for Speed used to be an awesome franchise until it hit a lot of snags in its later incarnations. But I think Criterion really has breathed new life into it.
Much like Burnout, NFS:MW has an open world city, Fairhaven, in which a player can do as they please. They can crash through billboards (like in Burnout? check), drive to any event around the city for their selected car and take these challenges on in any order (also like Burnout? check) and can take any route they want to finish races (big check).
But, true to the Need for Speed franchise, you’ve still got your great cop chases and let me tell you, when you get into a truly big one, it’s some of the most fun you’ll have in the game. I somehow managed to get myself to a level 5 on the Cop-o-meter (not a technical term, I just made that up) and was driving around for THIRTY minutes trying to lose them, all while racking up a huge score for my Speed Points, which ups your Most Wanted rank. Of course, I got caught and lost all chance of gaining said Speed Points, but I wasn’t frustrated. In fact, I was laughing and taking a deep breath to ease the tension I had building up while trying to evade road blocks and traps, changing the color of my car and swapping cars mid chase to try to throw the cops off.
And, in Need for Speed fashion, this game is all about just that. Speed. OK, not every car you unlock is going to get you over 100mph (sometimes it’s funny to drive around in a Ford Focus and try to actually do jumps off ramps), but those that do are a ton of fun. And when you blast through highway speed radars (also giving you points), there’s something satisfying about increasing your max MPH on that specific stretch of road and possibly besting the high score your friend put up.
The game is also very, very pretty. It’s the first thing I noticed when I started up my first car; looking out on the horizon over a bridge or at the city lights at night, it’s definitely nicely rendered and it all looks great no matter how quickly you are blasting past it.
I’m in love with NFS: Most Wanted because it gives me everything I loved from Burnout Paradise, plus cop chases! It’s one of those great games that you can pick up in between your great, big, epic games, to take a break and just burn some rubber.
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