Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) – Review

Wulfy foreword: I have a special treat for you boys and girls today! My very first guest post! My friend Lykos wanted to do a review for Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012), but had nowhere to put it. So I said he could put it up on my blog! As for why he felt the urge to do this review, I’ll let him explain that. PS! The alt-text for the images is still me, I’m afraid.

PPS! The game version tested is the PC one, but the game is also out on PS3, XBox 360, PS Vita, Android and iOS.

Reminds me of Mirror's Edge.

Let me start off by saying that this is the first time I’ve written a review, a friend (ed Wulf: that would be me) is putting it on his blog for me. The reason I’m writing this? People need to be warned. I’ve played almost every NFS game and I must say that this one dropped the ball.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012) has the distinct pleasure of being the first NFS game that, although stickered with EA Games’ logo, is made by Criterion Games (makers of Burnout: Paradise). The game overall looks fantastic before you purchase it, the engine seems to have been pulled from NFS: The Run and the graphics are… Well, just below the quality of The Run. The physics seem to have been messed around with as well, and not for the better.

The first vehicle you’re dropped into is a Aston Martin V12 Vantage, which is fairly regular for a Need for Speed game, give you a great car, then drop you into junk. Though your first mission (one of only two I know of) is to go steal a car, this sounds awesome as you pull up to a Porsche 911, but quickly becomes depressing as you just hit “E” and steal the car, with only a loading screen and a yellow paint-job to show for it. Lets note that this, in my case, was done in front of a police cruiser on the road that completely ignored my driving off the road, and theft of a vehicle. Mission two is a simple point to point race using the 911, leading to being dropped into the world in the 911 with a simple “Do what you want.”

That’s right people, no sexy girls telling you that you have a great adventure of racing ahead of you, no undercover police, not even Cross telling you that he is going to bust you one of these days. This game has NO story whatsoever.

And now I've gotten dirt on the car! Great!

 On to the cars: how to unlock them and the upgrades they can get. Cars are unlocked via “Jackspots” where you pull up next to a car with a manufacturer’s emblem over it and it becomes available to you. There are 123 Jackspots in the game and 43 cars, anyone else see the math issue here? That’s right, there are almost three Jackspots for each car. Each car has a different stat-line which I wont go into, because they all handle and drive almost exactly the same as the others (that’s right, even rear engine models) the only difference I’ve noticed is in the trucks and SUVs because they are slower than dirt and handle like a school bus. Vehicle paint schemes are pretty much random, you can drive through Repair shops (labeled with a wrench on the map) and your car gets a new, completely different colored paint-job, as well as any damage (mostly just visual) repaired. And yes, this does include tires after a spike strip (which the police somehow fire out the sides of their cars).

In regards to upgrades, each car has five races that you can run that are different difficulty levels and you get a reward based on if you get first or second place. Now this is where the game goes from a few mistakes to terribly, terribly wrong. The unlocks are the same for every car, on the Easiest difficulty race you get Nitrous for first place plus the second place unlock of Off-Road Tires, just the tires for second though. Now this is important because most of the cars handle just fine off the road but are greatly reduced in speed, and these tires do help slightly. And even if you unlock everything on one vehicle, if you switch to another vehicle the unlocks you got on the first one are unavailable, you have to go through the new car’s unique races (5 x 43 = 215 races + 10 boss races) and unlock the same equipment all over again. The only advantage I can see to a system like this is that you can probably beat the game with only one car.

On a slightly off topic note I have a personal issue here as someone who graduated from college for Automotive Technology: The Tesla Roadster is an electric car, something the programmers clearly noted in the audio department.What good is Nitrous to an electric car?! I’ve noted various mistakes like this; such as steam/smoke coming out from under a car’s hood when its damaged, despite being air cooled and rear engine or electric and mid-motor.

You'll never take me alive!

The Police of the game; Now they are a joke I must say, you can do anything you want around a Police Cruiser: drive in the wrong lane, go off-road, steal cars, or even ram civilian vehicles at 200MPH. But if you speed (drastically speed I might add) or so much as lightly tap a police vehicle on accident you end up in a chase that is nearly impossible to get out of unless your speeding by fast enough that your on pursuit cooldown before they can accelerate. Speaking of pursuit cooldowns; this game does have the various Heat Levels, and the only way to escape a pursuit is for them all to completely cool down. If you’re on Heat Level Six then you have to keep running away and staying out of sight until the Heat drops to zero. 

This takes SEVERAL minutes, and considering all of your vehicles seem to have a LoJack security system you WILL be in a permanent pursuit if you hit anything above Heat Level Four. At this level if you hit cooldown from getting out of Line-of-Sight you can be speeding through a four way intersection three miles down the road and cruisers/SUVs will come flying at you from all directions. Which leaves no possible way to get away. And if you think hiding in an out-of-sight shortcut or alley will help, you’re wrong. The police will immediately pull into the shortcut and restart the chase despite not having seen you for the past few minutes, or even if you’ve changed your paint-job or car. This also means that ‘races’ to escape the police are almost guaranteed to fail. The good news is that so far I have been unable to identify any negative to being arrested, you just show up at the Jackspot you got your car from.

Look ma! No wings!

Taking a leap off of a *glass* sculpture.

Bosses… Well… There are ten, and unlike all other NFS games they have no names. You race vs a car, a bot, a computer, Tron, KITT, Herbie, whatever you would like to call it. There is no driver name or fancy cinematic with someone trash talking you. These bosses are ridiculously fast, know all the paths around roadblocks, and like the cops, are immune to spike strips so if you do get the game: Don’t try to draft, not that there is a drafting mechanic, they will just drive over the spikes and make you go down to 80MPH when you hit them. But if you don’t want to face the bosses? Great news! You don’t have to, the ‘objective’ of the game is to become the Most Wanted, meaning to get the most Speed Points, which you can do without ever facing one (I was #8 on the chart before trying to face #10).

They also brought in something called an “Easydrive” system where you can set your pseudo-GPS to lead you to races, change car parts on the go (seriously, still wondering why I can install new tires while running from the police at 100+MPH), change cars instantly by teleporting to their Jackspot, check the Most Wanted list, and join multi-player. I find it slightly annoying that while I can change cars instantly from one side of the map to the other, I can’t go straight to races but oh well, that’s small compared to everything else wrong with this game.

Well, this doesn't look at all disruptive to driving at ludicrous speeds.

During police chases at 100+MPH it’s common to not look at the road.

Overall? I liked Need For Speed: The Run (4.5 out of 5 for me), I also liked Burnout: Paradise (4 out of 5), but Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012)? I give it a 2 out of 5. This game is offensive to both series in that the lack of story and poor mechanics insult the NFS series beyond belief, and that it lacks the sheer silliness the Burnout series had. They had a fantastic car list to work with, some of which I’ve been waiting on for years, and a great setup to work with in the first place (The Run). Yet they somehow screwed up, and from now on I’ll be calling this game Burnout: Most Wanted, all of the ‘map objectives’ (smashing billboards, finding cars, driving by speed cameras, etc.) and stunt styled areas are just too Burnout styled, despite the cars being licensed.

 If I thought that I could get anything out of it I would demand a refund. I can only recommend that you purchase this game if you’re interested in multi-player gaming, and even then don’t expect much. EA Games just lost a loyal customer, and honestly? I hope I’m not the only one.

Score: 2 out of 5



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