Sunday, August 28, 2022

Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2005) (PC) Review

I finished this game on Thursday, May 28, 2009, 8:05:00 PM. This review was first published on GameSpot on July 20, 2009.

Need For Speed series was reinvented with Underground, the series focused solely on illegal street racing. Underground and Underground 2 focused on nighttime racing. Most Wanted takes place during the daylight. It is a welcome change after two games which were exclusively under street lights.

This time around, there is a stronger emphasis on the story. Underground 2 had a story for the first time in the series but it was weak and was not treated very well. Most Wanted has a better story line and played a stronger part in the game.

The career begins with the player taking on the role of a nameless protagonist, who enters the city of Rockport to be a part of the street racing circuit. As you win races you go up in the Blacklist. The story starts to unfold when you enter a race with Razor. Razor sabotages your car and wins it from you at the end of the race, and you get caught by the police and land up in jail; but released soon due to lack of evidence.

You get help from a mysterious woman named Mia. She assists you in getting a car and taking part in the Blacklist races to win your car back from Razor, who reached the top of the Blacklist with it.

The police keep an eye on your from the beginning and as you start to win races they get more aggressive in their pursuit. Winning races in the Blacklist involves meeting certain criteria, such as having certain amount of bounty, evading cops in chases, and finally winning a one on one race against the opponent. This process repeats until you defeat the final Blacklist racer.

The story is told through full motion video with real actors. You won't remember the game for the acting, it is just about in the same league as your latest Fast and Furious movie, which is to say, mediocre and laughably bad at best but still fun to watch. Story is compelling enough with a few obvious plot twists to hold the interest to see it through the end.

The game makes it easier to jump in to a pursuit or a race right from the menu without having to drive in the city, which is convenient if you want to get into action right away. This makes the game less tedious. It thankfully does not follow the GTA style of having to drive to a certain location to get the mission; that would have been a completely unnecessary way to prolong game play.

Evading the police is a welcome return to the franchise; they were not to be found in the last two games. A chase typically starts slow with one car on your tail, but soon you might find 20 cars giving chase, in addition to a chopper flying overhead. Getting to the top of the Blacklist to beat Razor needs a LOT of work. There are tons of races and cop chases you need to beat to even get to race with a Blacklist driver. Halfway through the Blacklist, this process started getting tedious, more so because the AI starts to act crazy. For instance, I was in the final lap of a race and I was almost three quarters of a lap ahead of the race, and I happened to crash, and before I know, the AI is almost on top of me in a matter of seconds; and another time I was way behind in the race when the AI inexplicably slows down to allow me to win the race. The AI tends to do more of this as you go higher up; it oscillates between extremely tough and extremely easy.

The game has a lot of licensed cars that can either be purchased or won; I particularly loved the Ford Mustang GT. The customization of parts is really fun, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you install a higher upgrade of nitro and race past the AI.

The game, for the first time, has a speed breaker, which is a version of bullet time. The game slows down to a crawl and this allows you to navigate some really sharp turns without crashing. I thought this was a nice addition to the game.

Graphically, the game looks great. Playing it at 1600x1200 with all settings maxed is very exciting. The large environments of the city are well done. The different parts give a nice sense of variety, and the car models look sharp, especially when you start painting them with crazy triple-colored paint. The visuals scale reasonably well, I tried this game on machines with AGP cards and it worked well.

The game has outstanding engine noises that change depending on which car you're in and which upgrades you have. The rest of the sound effects are also of excellent quality. The game uses quite a bit of voice acting in the story, which is good, but sometimes they are entirely out of context. That's easily forgiven.

Most Wanted is an excellent arcade racing game with high quality visuals and sounds and some very interesting gameplay additions.

+ Visuals
+ Cop chases
+ Sound effects
+ Full motion video
+ Ford Mustang GT!
+ Speed breaker

- Racing in career mode can be tedious
- Unpredictable AI

Verdict - Buy

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