Over the years, the Need for Speed series have been a wonderful way of satisfying our desire to drive fancy cars. The first games in the series featured incredible sports cars racing across highways and racetracks. Over time however, the series has evolved. Now the Need for Speed series features more regular cars and puts an emphasis on urban environments and the story. While I still find myself longing for a nice Ferrari in the later NFS games, the latest instalment features nice changes. It is great to see an increased diversity in the available cars. While Need for Speed Underground was dominated by Japanese cars, Need for Speed: Most Wanted has cars from many countries. The player’s job is to win all the races and purchase the best cars.
I had just waxed the car...
The story begins as you arrive at Rockport. You will meet a mysterious woman called Mia, and receive a briefing about the city. Before you have a chance to get your bearings, you’ll find yourself racing all over the city. After a few days your luck will run out. Upon losing your fancy BMW M3 to Razor and his gang, you will have to rely on Mia’s help to take your revenge. It is up to you to crush the 15 members of the gang, become the number one racer in town, and reclaim your car.
Hey pal, the cops are chasing us!
Reminiscent of NFS: Hot Pursuit, with their high-tech cars, the cops will be out to catch you as you race through the streets of Rockport. If you exceed the speed limit or otherwise drive dangerously, the police will start chasing your car. Your radar will show you the direction of the police car nearest to your vehicle. The ability to successfully avoid the police cars plays a crucial part in NFS: Most Wanted. In fact, there is a game mode dedicated entirely to the chase aspects of NFS: Most Wanted. Your “bounty” level goes up as you avoid capture and get additional police cars to chase you. In fact, you will need a specific bounty level and racing experience before you can challenge one of the members of the gang.
One of the best aspects of NFS: Most Wanted is to mess with the police cars that are chasing your vehicle. For instance, driving your car into a water tower or gas station might cause the structure to collapse. If a police car is closely following you, it might get caught under the debris, instantly turning from a high-tech vehicle into a useless piece of junk. Of course once you have a large number of cars on your tail, little tricks like this are not enough and you’ll really have to step on the gas pedal. When the chase really gets intense, there is no need to be tentative or cautious about your driving. While the police cars and the other cars are easily destroyed, your vehicle is nearly impervious to damage. For instance, you can survive several flips in the air and driving straight into a wall at 150 miles per hour with cracked window and a few scratches on the car. You can also avoid the cops by hiding in quiet corners. Thankfully, the numerous positive aspects of NFS: Most Wanted more than make up for its lack of realism.
Among the best features of NFS: Most Wanted is the new racing system. In NFS: Underground 2, it could take a long time to actually get to the available races displayed on the map. In NFS: Most Wanted, you can return to the Safe House after each race and select a different one using a simple menu. The streets that serve as the race tracks have been modeled very nicely. It is autumn and leaves are blowing all over the city. The relaxing atmosphere can make you want to drive your Corvette to the seaside and enjoy a drink while watching the sunset. Of course the beautiful graphics and all the details demand a powerful system to run the PC version of the game. Even players who were able to run NFS: Underground 2 in high resolution might find themselves in need of a video card upgrade before they can truly enjoy the detailed graphics in the PC version of NFS: Most Wanted.
You can hear the sound of my engine two blocks away!
As you run between race tracks with a rush of adrenalin, you will occasionally make stops at the Car Lot and the Shop. The NFS: Underground games a number of different stores to modify features like your vehicles color or buy accessories. NFS: Most Wanted eliminates this unnecessary hassle by combining all the car modification stores under one roof. You can make all enhancements to your car from a single store. However, the accessories you can buy for your vehicle are more limited than the NFS: Underground games. The modifications consist of three levels. You unlock various upgrades as you win races. It is worth mentioning that different cars with the same modifications have comparable performance. Thus, there is little incentive to buy the most expensive cars when you can get the same results from a regular car. Of course if you just like the idea of driving a Lamborghini better than a regular car, that’s a different story.
NFS: Most Wanted does provide ways for you to get new cars without purchasing them. When you defeat members of the gang, you are given the option to select 2 of 6 secret prizes. Three of these prizes are accessory upgrades. One of them is an out of jail free card and another is a cash award. The last prize is the gang member’s car. Getting a $60,000 car for free certainly feels nice.
Most Wanted also features appearance points for your cars. In order to increase the appearance rating, you can decorate your car with fancy rims, spoilers, and stickers. However, just like the performance modifications, there is a reduced number of appearance upgrades you can purchase. For instance, you can no longer put neon lights underneath your car. A little more variety in appearance upgrades could have made the game more enjoyable.
EA certainly deserves credit for the music featured in NFS: Most Wanted. Quite a number of players could be found on online forums looking for the songs featured in the Underground games. The rap and rock tunes featured in Most Wanted feature the same level of quality. It is also worth noting that the vehicle sound effects are great. Each different model seems to have a distinct sound. After driving a specific vehicle for an extended period of time, you might find yourself able to recognize your car just by its sound. The whistling sounds coming from the engine when you get the turbo speed upgrade are especially thrilling.
EA Games shows rare degree of progressive success with the NFS series. Each game in the series has been full of innovations that give it a distinct appeal. Without a doubt, NFS: Most Wanted is the best racing game currently available in the market. If you are into racing and fancy cars, there is definitely a game you will enjoy.