With a little bit of 2005 diced up with the socially connected world of 2012, the “Need for Speed” series rolls on with the enhanced “Need for Speed: Most Wanted”.

“Need for Speed: Most Wanted” is a remake of their 2005 racer of the same name. Originally developed by Black Box, publisher Electronic Arts passed the keys to “Burnout” experts Criterion Games. Playing the role of “remake mechanics” for a second time (re: NFS: Hot Pursuit), Criteron tweaks this “run-from-the-law” street racer. The basics remain the same, race up the ranks of “The Most Wanted” list while evading the cops. Except this time, Criterion brings the series up-to-date with all the fixing of a socially connected world.

The main difference between the two editions of “Most Wanted” (aside from the graphical leap) is the connectivity of their “Autolog 2.0” tech - a social feature that has now become standard in the “Need for Speed” series. This makes “Most Wanted” more than a racing game against NPC mo-cap rivals. Now your rivals are your friends along with the pre-fab challenges. Yes, for those who remember, Razor and his crew are gone, and have been replaced with a bit of your world. This is a good thing, and one of the reasons why this update of “Most Wanted” is much more addictive than the original. There is something about taking on your friends that is so much more satisfying, no matter how solid the in-game rival 10 are.

Another revision to “Most Wanted 2012” is the location; Rockport is no more, and we say “hello” to the fictional surroundings of Fairhaven. Similar to most racing games, Fairhaven is your customary sandbox styled city-filled with many “zoned” sites to explore. The jumps, breakable objects, hidden vehicles, and speed traps will fill your need for exploration as you daredevil through the city. Unlike other games, vehicles are unlocked so all you need to do is find them. This “all open” idea is a fresh take for the series; however, I enjoyed the freedom to choose from their 40+ vehicles, although the feeling of being rewarded for playing the game is lessened due to this. Following multiple hours of my Fairhaven adventure, I wanted more of a reward than just simply upgrading the staggering list of vehicles I acquired.

Dealing with a “sandbox racer” means unlimited freedom and staggered start-and-end points. Once unlocked, each race can be attempted whenever the player wishes. This might sound a lot like Criterion’s golden-wheel racer “Burnout Paradise”...because it is. “Most Wanted” incorporates the sandbox style of “Paradise” mixed in with the police chasing, chart climbing heart of the original “Most Wanted.” The only area that is skimped is the customization; however, it seems like NFS has been getting away from that “tuner” vibe over the years. With customization you will have a few visual and performance upgrades that can be earned, but it’s at a minimum.

The physics also revoke an air of both games, so expect an arcade-style racer that isn’t shy to bump-n-grind. The bashing and crashing are things that you will get very familiar with, even if you try to keep to the imaginary race line. Although a tad ridiculous at times, the handling is great and each car has its own distinct feel, from trucks to big money sports cars, you will definitely get a kick out of giving each vehicle a try.

One new feature that you will be exhausting is “EasyDrive”, a quick-menu that lets you get into the action swiftly along with any option in the game. Always running in real-time, this D-Pad activated menu is a novel idea; however, its execution didn’t need to be that “free” because using this menu system during racers or anything “high-speed” is near impossible, and surprisingly not quick enough for some selections like restarting an event. “EasyDrive” is a neat addition, and some-what useful, but not the answer to in-game menus.

On the track you can go about climbing your “Most Wanted List” online with the help of the “stat-tracking” Autolog. Race types are broken up into the typical assortment of styles which goes for both online and offline play. Quick thinking and good reflexes are key here, although, the single-player races are somewhat scripted, which makes the online portion more exciting after extended retries of the same event. The most excitement comes from trying to outwit the law who come always seem to bust up your illegal fun. Unfortunately, this excitement can’t be duplicated online because of an odd choice to exclude the “cops vs. racers” mode that was so popular in last year’s “NFS: Hot Pursuit”.

Continuing the nitpicking; the sandbox approach makes “event start-ups” a little tedious compared to “standard menu” start set-ups. Although, when played online there is something exciting about dashing across Fairhaven to meet up and wait for the next event to start. The sandbox formula in an arcade racer only gets a minor “sigh” at times, which can be put in a bucket with the rest – ie: no cockpit view, “rubber-banding”, no manual transmission, etc. But hey, this isn’t our old “NFS”; it’s all about the no-thought quarters, something that “Most Wanted” does exceptionally well.

“Need for Speed: Most Wanted” takes the sandbox, high-impact racing of Criterion’s Burnout series and mixes it with the chart-climbing ranks of “Most Wanted”. Yes, a mixture of “Burnout” and “Need for Speed” sounds like a racing fans dream, and it kind of is. While “Most Wanted” might not carry the same attitude, or be clear of all enthusiast gripes - the online connectivity and high production value makes “Most Wanted” a “solid” arcade-style racer that can accommodate most of your high-speed needs!

  • Autolog 2.0 is always a good thing.
  • Having your friends as your rivals never gets old.
  • *Almost* All cars free to drive right from the get-go.
  • Solid graphics and production - much respect Fairhaven.
  • Controls are buttery smooth. Handles like a dream.
  • Online is where the money is. Highly addictive and fun.
  • I know it's a “remake” of sorts, but more originally would have been welcomed.
  • Feeling of reward is lessened with *almost* all the cars being unlocked.
  • Even through my distaste for Razor and his crew, the “attitude” from the original is somewhat lost.
  • More vehicle customization and view options would have been nice.
  • EasyDrive – not so easy at high speeds.
Quote: " While “Most Wanted” might not carry the same attitude, or be clear of all enthusiast gripes - the online connectivity and high production value makes “Most Wanted” a “solid” arcade-style racer that can accommodate most of your high-speed needs!"
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.05.12 | Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360

Similar Games: NFS: The Run (7.7) | NFS: Most Wanted (8.5) | NFS: Hot Pursuit 2011 (9.0) | Burnout: Paradise (9.1)


Need for Speed
Most Wanted

Electronic Arts



US Release
October '12


X360, PS3

Players 1
Online MP 2-8
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content
FF Wheel Support
Kinect Optional