Wot I Think: Need For Speed – Most Wanted

By John Walker on November 2nd, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Rather oddly not we haven’t been given review code by EA, even after it was released in America, but we’ve finally been able to get our hands on Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Criterion’s latest take on the long-running series is a thinly veiled sequel to their classic Burnout: Paradise. Does the arrival of the police make things a riot? Here’s wot I think:

It’s Burnout Paradise 2. It’s Burnout Paradise: This Time There Are Cops. And that is the best possible news. One of the most purely fun games ever, a driving game that embraced arcade fun over realism, and overwhelmed with all manner of events, races, activities and collectibles. And most of all, smashing stuff. Which was smashing stuff. There were faults, there were issues (not least for the PC version), and there was DJ Atomika. But it was predominantly a rollicking piece of entertainment. So it does make it a bit odd that this spiritual successor should have worked so hard to accentuate the original’s faults.

I want to focus on positives because they are many, but the game really slaps you in the face with the negatives straight away. It’s important to keep things in balance – this is overall a great game, genuinely. But it’s one of those circumstances where what would usually be the issues mentioned near the end of the review get a great deal more prominence, since people have been pointing most of them out for the last five years.

Pretty much everything BP offered is here, mostly with incremental improvements. A vast city, ridiculously detailed and lovingly crafted, packed with races, cars, jumps, barriers and advertising hoardings. You have a huge array of cars very quickly available to you, all of which drive ridiculously fast (0 to 60 in around a second, generally), skid splendidly around corners, and hugely varied in handling. There’s a soundtrack of horrible, horrible songs, sun glare like you’re actually on the Sun, and AI racers with proper skill and smarts, accompanied by precision perfect rubberbanding to ensure races are always thrilling. Criterion know how to make racing games properly fun. They also know how to incessantly interrupt that fun.

Do you know how many times it’s fun to lose a race because an NPC driver pulls out into oncoming traffic and causes you to crash? None times. It is none times. Do you know how much less fun it is to then be forced to watch a long, boring, poorly captured crash animation that you can’t skip, rather than getting back to the race? It is a hundred thousand less fun.

The very worst part of BP – those slow, frustrating and unskippable crash sequences that everyone in the whole world, including babies and Vladimir Putin, said were stupid and horrible – are back. And so much more frequent. For reasons only known to Criterion, or the demonic evil that controls them, the decision has been made to make most of the cars far more vulnerable. Where once you could bounce sideways off barriers, now it’s a crash animation. Where once you could clip an oncoming car on the very corner and get away with it, now it’s a crash animation. Where once you could role incredibly slowly into a stationary vehicle, now it’s a crash animation. And they’re just as badly filmed as before, the action always just on the edge of the screen, and this time for some reason with the lighting dulled so they’re not at all fun to look at. Of course you can’t skip them. And it’s maddening.

All you want when you’ve crashed in a race is to be racing again. You want to be playing. The obsessive need to punish you because a non-racing car decided to slam into you is agonising. And it’s never, ever more infuriating than when you’ve just finished a race and upgraded your car, where when you’re finally free of the slow, barely comprehensible screens of data that follow, and it puts you back on the road at 80mph in front of a wall. Here, rather than showing you the crash animation, it insists first on displaying a bunch of icons on screen that you can’t understand and don’t want to see, taking away even your ability to pause the game until it’s finally done. And then, when it is, now it’s a crash animation.

If you think I’m dedicating rather a lot of this review to this one issue, you’re right. And it’s because you’ll be spending rather a lot of your game experiencing it. It made sense in earlier Burnout games, where crashing was the central theme. It made less sense in Paradise, where it really wasn’t a theme. And it makes absolutely bugger all sense now it’s in a Need For Speed game.

Moving on. There are some key changes, not least the police. And they’re superbly implemented. What could have been an annoying niggling distraction is instead constant fun. They ramp up their pursuit of you, using road blocks, spike strips, etc, but you always know you’re better than them. Escaping them is tough, but always possible. And if you fail, well, it’s another unskippable cutscene, but perhaps here the punishment is deserved. There’s lovely radio chatter from the police, which while eventually repetitive, is at least contextual and ego-boosting. “These guys are good – we’re going to lose them.”

Police will spot you if you’re ludicrously speeding (they mostly don’t care under 100mph), driving on the wrong side of the road, or being excessively dangerous, but shaking off a single cop is a synch. Where it’s much more interesting is during events. Races will have trigger points where the police get involved, meaning each time you play through it’ll dramatically change the experience. Even though they’re explicitly trying to stop you, they mostly don’t spoil things like the stupid, STUPID NPCs do, but instead give the races a new dimension.

Another new feature is the rather odd decision to have all races be car specific. Whereas Paradise had a couple of uniques per car, but otherwise a general free-for-all to upgrade your license, in Most Wanted you’re trying to up your way through the ranks of the eponymous list of felons. To do this you earn points by completing races for each individual vehicle, as well as through absolutely everything else in the game (brilliantly smashing barriers, speeding past speed cameras, doing good skids, evading the cops, etc, all add to this points tally), which unlock new races for spots in the top 10. However, the effect of this is to mean each and every car (and there are, I think, about seventy million billion of them) has to be individually taken through its five races, unlocking nitro and improved tyres, etc, for each one from scratch. It’s a very odd way of going about things, and means you lose the sense of constant progression that becoming more wanted would seem to imply. Still, it’s a ton of extra content, each with its own hilariously bad intro sequence (that you can, thank God, skip), and that’s more fun to be had.

However, the other big issue Most Wanted has is an inability to communicate. To the point where I… I actually miss DJ Atomika a bit. While there is the silky-voiced mystery lady, her appearances are sparse, and you can be left confused. One type of event requires that you maintain an average speed over a certain figure, but – um – never actually expresses that to you. In fact it does much the opposite, by informing you what prizes are available for coming first, second or third. Except it’s not a race. It actually means for beating three separate speeds, but it doesn’t tell you what they are before you start. This, combined with the mad jumble of information it slides across the screen in the race’s achingly long load times (required to sit through for a restart, every time), as well as after, leaves the whole thing looking very poorly thought through.

This extends even to what’s clearly the primary reason for playing: smashing through stuff. Jumping through an advertising hoarding isn’t celebrated at all. Instead you get a tiny, thin bar above the (far too zoomed in) minimap, that mumbles how many you’ve hit now. The same for barriers, which are now a dull grey, rather than the distractingly alluring bright yellow of Paradise. It’s as if they got slightly embarrassed about bringing Burnout’s cartoon fun into the grimy world of Need For Speed.

But but but it’s fun! It really, really is. I want to keep playing. I want to keep climbing up those Wanted ranks, and make the police hate me more. And smash stuff! Even if it is all camouflaged and less celebrated. I especially can’t wait for the ridiculous US/UK ocean gap to be gone, so I can play online and explore if that’s as great as Paradise’s online playground.

I’ve found a favourite car, a Nissan that can take at least somedamage, and I’ve got it specced up splendidly. I’m loving that the more I drive, the more I discover of this enormous map. There are buildings you can drive inside, huge jumps to perform, and always the fun of tagging a police car and then leaving him in confusion. And rather splendidly, despite featuring all licensed real-world cars, they get properly smashed up to bits. Seeing damage of a licensed car is all too rare, and you’ll be relieved to learn you can make them look a right state (even if they will continue to drive at 120mph without any tyres with their doors hanging off.)

It just bewilders me that Criterion seem to have stubbornly insisted on making all their mistakes again. Even the menus remain as horrendously badly designed as Paradise’s, still taking an idiotic time to load, spread across so many pages, and then still not navigable by mouse. At least it doesn’t play bloody Paradise City each time you load it. There’s at least that. All they need to do to complete the set is promise an expansion for PC, and then never release it.

It’s a shame that this caught the tail end of an aged console cycle, rather than the fresh pastures of the next, but it remains utterly gorgeous. They’ve squeezed more out of the limitations imposed by the 360 than I can believe, and I really cannot wait to see what they do when such restrictions are removed. The cars feel properly weighted, the controls as unrealistic as you could hope, while still offering a proper challenge with hairpin corners. And the racing is superbly balanced with excellent AI competition. It’s a real shame that I still feel obliged to end this paragraph saying that all this stuff is great, worth playing, but you’ll be putting up with niggle after niggle in between.

It’s like being given a giant chocolate cheesecake, but forks that keep snapping. You’re damn well going to eat that cheesecake, because by crikey it’s delicious, but that won’t stop you complaining about the forks.

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149 Comments »

  1. omNOMinator says:

    First.

    Good review! Thanks a lot.

    • DickSocrates says:

      First here, last everywhere else.

    • Premium User Badge Malibu Stacey says:

      First.

      Get out.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      everybody thinks you smell

    • Lanfranc says:

      But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

    • MrLebanon says:

      omg i envy you for being first

    • Stochastic says:

      Fifty-sixth!

    • Cooper says:

      FIRSTFACE

    • pepper says:

      Please find the thick cable coming from the back of your computer, it has a three pronged plug at one end and the other fits your local power outlet.

      Rip the cable out and never come back.

      • plectophera says:

        man u a cranky sod.

        • SAM-site says:

          Cranky or not, the notion that posting “first” is somehow valid, useful or important in comments has been pleasingly absent from RPS (for the most part) so far. This marks a trend I’ve observed of late where comments have been getting a little more like you’d find on other gaming news outlets – increasing posts of senseless frothing rage, occasional accusations of being a “fanboy” and now use of the word “first”.

          I put it to you there are newcomers to these comments who do not conduct themselves in the manner to which we/I have become accustomed, and I for one don’t like it.

          I shall be over here scowling.

          • Shinwaka says:

            Hear, hear!

            And I’ll add a furrowed eyebrows to his scowl.

          • geoffreyk says:

            The only glimmer of hope I have is that maybe he was just being super-ironic. Right?

            But even then… most of us are still suffering from the PTSD of spending time on other websites. Too soon… too soon.

        • Shooop says:

          Anyone who ever posted that on any internet forum or message board anywhere should be whipped with their monitor’s power cord. It’s pointless, obnoxious, and serves no purpose but to tell the world the person posting it is an incredible douche with nothing to say but wants to say something anyway.

          pepper said what I would have said much, much more eloquently and politely. Do not defend the indefensible. Just don’t.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      fiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssssssssstttttttt

    • Gorf says:

      you’re in the wrong place OP.

    • lurkalisk says:

      For all the time I’ve spent on RPS, I never thought its community one to react so childishly to a “first” post… Wow.

      • Xepter says:

        That’s the same thing I thought. Most of the time people just ignore the first comment if it’s stupid like this one, instead of unnecessary flaming ._.

  2. Premium User Badge yhancik says:

    EA couldn’t send you review code anyway. Only maybe whaddyathink code.

  3. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    Trust my John, fire up Burnout Paradise again and you’ll find you most certainly don’t miss DJ Atomika in the slightest! He’s certainly not the gluon that holds the game together.

    • Premium User Badge oWn4g3 says:

      Fun fact: In the German version, DJ Atomika is actually a woman. Not less annoying though, I guess.

  4. Crane says:

    “Where once you could role incredibly slowly into a stationary vehicle”
    Roll.

    “but shaking off a single cop is a synch”
    Cinch.

    For shame, RPS proofread-o-bot.

    • Premium User Badge yhancik says:

      I can now only imagine RPS proofread-o-bot busy hunting in the English countryside

    • Snids says:

      THANK GOD YOU CAME!

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Actually misread (or well, correctly read) the synch one. I felt dumb because it took me a second to figure out what he meant. RPS keeps you on your toes!

    • Azradesh says:

      They’ve been in need of a good proof reader (or any proof reader?) for quite some time now.

    • benkc says:

      Thank you for clarifying that I was not, in fact, wrong about the phrase “is a cinch” all my life.

  5. Dinger says:

    Come on, LC, the crucial moment in Burnout Paradise was when DJ Atomika mysteriously disappeared, never to be heard from again. Why have you forsaken me, DJ Atomika? Left alone in a lifeless city of hostile cars and crappy music, that’s a horrible fate no upgrades to my license can hide.

  6. MOKKA says:

    Who else completely missed this game’s release, because he/she only has a Steam account?*
    It’s a bit frightening to see how big Steam’s influence is when it comes to this kind of stuff.

    *Not that I’m a Steam ‘Fan’, I’m just too lazy to install several clients on my PC, which probably makes me even worse.

    • orange says:

      First it was MOH:Warfighter’s release that really surprised me. It wasn’t until this game’s release also surprising me till I made the link: they both aren’t on Steam and so I automatically do not care for them.

  7. Dimonte says:

    I, for one, liked hearing Paradise City when starting up BP. It’s cheesy and horrible, sure, but the vibe, man, the vibe.

    • Kyrius says:

      Ohhhh, so much this! Every time I start (I still do) the game, the track completely shut me off from the world and only I’m in the car to do some smashing :D

    • Moni says:

      This is the same reason that I actually liked DJ Atomika. He lowered the tone and got me riled up just enough to start mindlessly smashing stuff without remorse.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Much as I can’t stand G’n'R, I always got jacked hearing those first chords to Paradise City every time I started Burnout Paradise.

      And, I’m also missing DJ Atomika. I was hoping the female narrator would be a little more him.

    • particlese says:

      Yes! The intro song didn’t grate my ears like most of the rest of the soundtrack (which I whittled down to the classical music to great comedic effect), and it got me pumped for crashing into things and flying through the air. And DJ Atomica was just kind of there. I love that he was toned-down and vaguely informative instead of being a UT announcer whenever you hit something. As much as I delight in UT’s announcements, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed them in Burnout Paradise.

  8. vasek45 says:

    Am I the only person on the whole internet who disliked Burnout Paradise and therefore not going to spend money on this one?
    In my opinion previous burnout games were better. Especially Takedown. And hey, I know it’s a console-only title, but the best arcade racer this generation is Project Gotham Racing 4, which didn’t have an open-world or npc’s or barriers to smash but still managed to be more fun TO ME than any open-world racer with tons of extra-content.
    Finally, again, am I the only one who wants a proper NFS game with cutomization, bad storyline and ridiculous soundtrack, just like in the times of NFSU/U2/MW/Carbon? And not a Burnout Paradise remake in different setting?

    • The First Door says:

      No, you really aren’t. I was very disappointed with Paradise and much preferred Takeout and Revenge. In fact, the 360 re-release of revenge still gets lots of playtime thanks to the crash junction local multiplayer!

      Then again, I really enjoyed the utterly silly, but rather fun, live-action moments in the original Most Wanted, so that might invalidate my opinion a little.

    • djbriandamage says:

      NFS Underground was my favourite in the series since NFS2. I really enjoyed the open world, customization, and less stringent requirements about what car you use and when. I guess two games in that series exhausted all their ideas.

      • Squire says:

        Do you mean NFS:Underground 2 or NFS: Undercover? Because NFS: Underground didn’t have an open world, just a giant list of races to complete.

    • Howard says:

      Nope, not even slightly. I own every game in the Burnout series and Paradise is just dross.

      This, while clearly BP2, is better than BP as it actually has controls that work. The problem is that everything else is broken: stupid cameras, no progression, everything unlocked from the start and cops that drive cars made of iron but can do 3000 MPH. The AI is…well its not AI – saying it was AI would be like saying Mario Kart had AI.

      Does it look pretty? Sure, but given that I find behind-car views to be moronic and the “in car” view is the view you would have if trapped under the front tires, you never get to see – fuck, you can’t even see the ROAD from that camera.

      Total and utter waste of time really and this is the exact review I knew RPS would give.

      Only EA could “dumb down” a dumb arcade racer. That takes talent.

    • wodin says:

      No you aren’t. I rubbish at the more realistic car Sim but also hated the Burnout game as it was just boring. The only games I’ve really enjoyed to do with racing are Dirt2, Shift and an old Nigel Mansell one on my Amstrad.

    • SuicideKing says:

      No, you’re not. The last NFS i enjoyed was HP2.

      Most Wanted was good too, but kind of got repetitive after the 5th blacklist.

      Shift was great, but didn’t have a steering wheel and since it’s not the typical arcade NFS, it was a bit difficult with the keyboard.

      Criterion’s Hot Pursuit was horrible for me. At least the pursuits. The crash/police cams bugged the hell out of me. The police was annoying. The game wasn’t optimized (even after multiple patches) for multi-core support, even though it scales well (i have to deselect and reselect cores from the core affinity list to get it working).

      In that respect, don’t know why anyone expected the Most wanted remake to be any different.

      I just want my good ol’ NFS II SE’s arcadiness (not a word, i know) back, with the Frostbite 2 engine, the new MW’s police (since John found the police to be balanced), an open world with car customization. Or something. You get my drift (my first RPS pun?).

      • brulleks says:

        For me, the last decent one was Road Challenge (I never played Porsche, though a friend assures me it’s very good). HP2 was all right compared to more recent entries, but was still disappointing compared to the earlier ones (apart from the first game, which was awful).

        Criterion’s HP was appalling. As well as the issues you mention, the rubberbanding just neutralised the racing, making the whole thing pointless until the last few hundred metres. And forcing me to play time trials to progress? No thanks.

        This one sounds all right, but with so many games to play and so little time to play them nowadays, I can’t be doing with anything that keeps interrupting that time with unskippable cutscenes or other irritations.

      • lociash says:

        Criterion’s NFS:HP was one of the best if not the best racing/arcade sim I’ve played in recent time, admittedly it was on the PS3 so I had none of these supposed PC port issues.

        I’m enjoying Most Wanted a lot, but I agree with the review about things like a lack of structure and small annoyances to do with restarting races because of stupid crashes and I am noticing some performance issues on max settings.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Didn’t you find the crash/police/you sneezed cams distracting though? :o

          I HATED the pursuits because of that. Just kept crashing because of either the police (which seemed too tough…maybe just me? Tough i’m not too bad ;) ) or something else.

          Races were still fun enough, though.

      • Bremze says:

        @SuicideKing: Absolutely agreed. It’s probably nostalgia, but NFS 2 SE is still the favorite game from this series. Just give me pretty cars I could never afford and let me loose in beautiful and diverse stretches of road.

        • SuicideKing says:

          :D yeah like a McLaren F1 on that oval track…forgot what it was called…

    • Arkadion says:

      Need For Speed Underground 1, for me, is still the best arcade racer to date. It was just so much fun, I can’t explain why. The race maps were awesome, upgrading and designing your car was awesome-er. And it wasn’t even open-world.

      Miss spending afternoons playing NFSU, Ace Combat and Shadow of the Colossus on my PS2…

      I am currently enjoying Forza Horizon. It reminds me of the fun I had with NFSU.

      • derbefrier says:

        that was my favorite too. I dont get into a lot of racing games but me and my friends spen countless hours on that game. It was just so much damn fun.

        • Arkadion says:

          It was just so awesome to start with an ugly, slow car and then get more awesome at each race :P You felt like you needed to conquer it, to win it all. Awesome.

    • Azradesh says:

      I agree. Could I please get another Burnout with fast cars, arcady racing, lots of takedowns and most importantly, no fecking open world! I hate open world racing, I want tracks to learn. (Actually, saying that, Sleeping Dogs had great arcady open world racing, mostly because of the arrows that clearly show the route)

    • brianisbrilliant says:

      no one else has played/liked flatout 2? all of the things that gripe the author ruined BP for me. I have loved playing Flatout 2 for its slightly technical feel, and the fact that you win races by NOT crashing. and it’s on steam! I highly recommend it.

      • brulleks says:

        Agreed. Although Ultimate Carnage would be the one to get, seeing as it is basically Flat Out 2 with updated graphics and more AI drivers.

        Shame the MP in UC was so poorly supported and implemented, but nowadays I imagine the MP community has dropped off the board anyway.

    • absolofdoom says:

      This comment thread is a listing of all the bad people.

  9. Snids says:

    Hopefully this game will get run through the hack-mangle and it’s enskipment enabulator will be activated.

  10. The First Door says:

    After having a rather… rocky relationship with the more recent Criterion games, I was really hoping for a demo of this one. Sadly it doesn’t seem like one will appear which means I’m unlikely to pick this up for a while.

    Also, am I the only one who utterly hates the idea of all the cars being available at the start? I love earning new cars in racing games, the sense of progression you get is really nice. I get the fun involved in finding them, but the designers obviously saw a problem with it and tried to hack in a solution, namely forcing you to play with different cars.

    • CapeMonkey says:

      There are also cars you have to earn as you work your way up the single player Most Wanted ranks – although it really depends what you get out of unlocking cars as to whether that’d be good enough for you. Personally, this Most Wanted is my favourite setup ever.

      I’m having a blast with this, although I’m ridiculously doing it on PS Vita rather than PC.

      • The First Door says:

        I like the build up of speed through the game most. Either through upgrading your car, or working you way up through different tiers. That way it makes revisiting the same tracks/routes (which is inevitable in a racing game) less dull as you revisit them with faster cars.

  11. kryator says:

    Was the version tested here on the review the PC one?

    • John Walker says:

      Yes, of course.

      • strangeloup says:

        For ages I thought the text in the background of your icon said “RIAA” and it was some witty visual commentary comparing that organisation to a dinosaur.

        Then I realised that I’m just rubbish at reading and maybe need my glasses for using the computer now.

        • particlese says:

          Oh, wow, same here! It made me smile a bit before, but now it’s “woo, dinosaurs!”, which is a good thing.

  12. Shantara says:

    WTF is happening on the third picture?

    • kryator says:

      Its the intro movies to each race, it goes all crazy on purpose.

      • subactuality says:

        Damn… the idea of being chased around the city by a giant ferris wheel of police cars was just about enough to sell me on this game.

        • Premium User Badge oWn4g3 says:

          I was intrigued too.

        • phylum sinter says:

          I too was hoping for pure insanity cop mode. Criterion is a great developer, but sometimes i think the crazy they portray comes off as completely wooden and could use some of the silly from say, Volition or someone to help zazz it beyond DJ Atomika style pseudo-cool. Make it weird, folks. Please make it happen (patch?)

          Also i wonder: if the crash-cam’s frequency became a prevailing gripe, would Criterion see fit to tone that business down a bit via a patch?

          Currently holding my dollars but looking intently on purchasing some racing game. I think Forza Horizon (which has some serious PGR elements and alumni behind it btw – to the guy that mentioned PGR4 as the best of the generation) may hold a distinct advantage over this game. Albeit on ye olde toybox360, i’ll gladly play it there with the wheel and such… unless there’s a better, sleeker, pc racer coming down the pipes in the next few months? Maybe Dirt 4: Filthtown? When is GRiD 2 coming again?

      • particlese says:

        Awww…that’s a bit disappointing. It might also be a good thing, though: I was thinking that if it were an actual game mechanic, it would quickly become trite unless they had a enormous variety of crazy things like that.

    • malkav11 says:

      I was wondering that myself. I would play a game of that.

  13. djbriandamage says:

    One thing you didn’t mention, John, was what sort of online service is supported or required. I expect I can never play Burnout Paradise again because it inexplicably refused to associate with my EA\Origin account. I was forced to make some throwaway account I’ve since forgotten, and it’s required even for single player.

    Unskippable and frequent animations, voluminous menus, long load times, and races being tethered to specific cars all sound frustrating to an admittedly lousy virtual driver as I. To me, Criterion’s magnum opus was 2010′s Hot Pursuit which I still play regularly with my wife, so I plan to retire to those pastures until something comparable takes it place.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      For the year or so that I had Paradise installed on my system, I never had to enter my EA account information. I was able to play the entire game account-free, including the multiplayer part.

      Did you have Paradise associated with your Origin client by chance? I’m thinking that’s where your problem lied. Origin has issues with pre-Origin games sometimes.

      • djbriandamage says:

        I wish it was associated with my Origin account. That’s exactly what I was trying to accomplish but for some reason (which I can’t remember now) it refused to work. The menus in that game are so ridiculously horrendous that it took me about 45 minutes to make an account and get to the main menu.

        Maybe I’m remembering wrong about the single player requirement because I bought 2 copies with the intent to play with my wife, which we did for a short while, but then it asked me to re-enter my long-since-forgotten login information so that was the end of that.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          After uninstalling Paradise I activated the key in Origin, and there it sits, waiting for me to try to reinstall it again at some point. I’m dreading that a bit because my experience with Origin and legacy games has been pretty abysmal so far. I couldn’t even get Medal of Honor Airborne to run after Origin detected it on my system and added it to the library.

  14. Premium User Badge TheApologist says:

    Well, I liked DJ Atomica. AND I liked Paradise City. So there.

  15. MrMud says:

    The multiplayer is pretty great, especially how you can smash other peoples cars to prevent them from improving their scores in the various challenge modes.

    The bad part is that the cops in the single player are actively making the game less fun to play.
    I hate having to evade cops in GTA and I hate it here.

  16. Mr Monotone says:

    I don’t know if it’s trackmania spoiling me but the thought of having to wait more than maybe 3 seconds to restart a race really turns me off this game. I mean I liked burnout paradise and the earlier games but the idea of waiting around in a racer really fills me with a feeling of meh.

  17. kryator says:

    Strange that other PC reviews make reference to the strange optimization (or lack of it), with fps going up and down constantly and here on this review..nada..nothing..no reference at all.

    That’s why I asked above, was the PC VERSION used for the review?

    And I believe it was (pc gaming site, makes sense) it all played smooth? No fps drops? Nothing.. ?!

    Really strange when 80% of PC players are having problems with it, even with graphic options at minimum in top PC’s.

    • caddyB says:

      PC Gaming since 1873

    • Premium User Badge Shakermaker says:

      I was wondering about this myself, especially because of this part:

      “It’s a shame that this caught the tail end of an aged console cycle, rather than the fresh pastures of the next, but it remains utterly gorgeous. They’ve squeezed more out of the limitations imposed by the 360 than I can believe, and I really cannot wait to see what they do when such restrictions are removed.”

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        I guess we”ve all had to accept that grgraphics standards are now dictated by the consoles. RPS. is not known for giving much of a crap about the technical part of pc gaming , beyond the occasional hardware article. . You’ll generally see an ‘it’s good enough ‘ approach or sometimes the more angry ‘graphics are killing gaming ‘ approach. The main thing that keeps this place PC is the openness of the platform as opposed to advancing technical superiority.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      RPS doesn’t seem to comment on this stuff, which is unfortunate for us, but I suppose the info is available elsewhere.
      Basically it seems that RPS doesn’t review on multiple builds, just one badass gaming computer, and we don’t hear about niggly frame rate issues unless they’re really bad.
      I’d love more technical reviews from RPS, but these guys mainly just review the games themselves, not how they run.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      It’s a Wot I Think, not a review. Of course they used PC code. And if they;d had problems worth mentioning, they would have been mentioned.

    • John Walker says:

      Yes, I reviewed it on PC, of course. In the three days I was playing it, I had it stammer I think 4 times. I didn’t find the framerate an issue at all. Perhaps I got lucky with my PC, but I can only report what I experienced.

      • Crimsoneer says:

        Aww, I was hoping you’d reviewed it on a toaster.

        • jayc4life says:

          Toasters can play this game? BRB, downloading Origin onto my Morphy Richards.

      • kryator says:

        I see, probably some configs(high end included) are having problems with it, seems that fps go around 40-60 a lot, ruining the experience.

        At least there’s like thousands of forums reply’s referring to these fps problem so it must be real.

        Want to buy the game but fps drops, even with graphic options at minimum are unbearable for me, and in a super speed racing game..even more.

        • trjp says:

          SO why are you even looking at a new release game – they ALL have issues which take time to sort out (and sometimes never are)

          I can’t understand the mental disability which makes people touchy about technical quality but unable to grasp that there’s nothing they (or anyone else) can do about it.

          Common-sense-blindness perhaps?

          My tip is to not give a shit and just play the game on-offer :)

          • dE says:

            What? No, really… what?
            I know the words you’re using and the way you bash them together is even loosely reminiscent of actual sentences. But your post just makes no sense to me. What your post seems to suggest is:
            That every game always has technical issues (‘right), therefore technical issues are irrelevant (what?) and people are stupid for paying attention to it (WHAT?) and thus the best choice of action is to ignore being unable to play the game (WHAAAAT?) and… play the game? (What?^2 [running out of ways to further emphasize the word. Please do insert squirrel powered neon flashlights as backdrop indicator into the final parts of this post.]).

          • phylum sinter says:

            I’m going to blame coffee: the excitable destroyer of meaning.

          • trjp says:

            OK – I’ll explain in large-type for the hard of thinking.

            I don’t understand why people get upset about technical issues and other things in-relation to PC games given that we KNOW they’ll be there – it’s like complaining that it’s raining, it’s not like anyone can stop that.

            My suggested solution – as with many other issues you might have with games – is to play the game being offered and NOT the one you’ve got in your head. Forget your wishes for what the game ‘might’ be and accept what it is.

            Example: You might want a silky smooth 120fps racer with tolerant collisions and instant return to action after a crash – but that’s not on offer here and wanting it won’t make it happen.

            Similarly, you might want a sequel to Dungeon Keeper or XCOM but recent games ‘in that vein’ aren’t quite that, so people complain instead if just playing the games being offered ‘for what they are’ – hell they might even like them if they stopped wanting them to be something they aren’t.

            I seriously cannot think of a PC game which hasn’t had technical issues tho – so if I were the sort of person annoyed by FPS issues/stuttering etc. – I’d probably not own a PC.

          • dE says:

            I see what you mean but heartily disagree. You are dismissing the entire concept of scalability in technical issues. The range includes:

            Won’t start at all
            Input won’t work correctly
            Noticeable Input delay
            Frequent crashes
            Single digit FPS
            Severe Audio Stuttering

            All of which render a game unplayable, even (assumedly) by your standards. Unless you count browsing the 2 page PDF manual as playing a game. ;)
            Technical issues are one of the most important aspects of gaming, as they decide whether you can actually play a title or not. As such it is very important to be informed about these kinds of things, especially prior to purchase. And again, are you seriously suggesting that not being able to run a game properly, maybe even not at all, is a case of “well it’s like rain. You burned 60 bucks on something you can’t use, so what”?

            Some further words on the scalability:
            40 fps for some are very well 10 fps for others. Not even counting the matter of perception of FPS is highly subjective. For example I can deal with something as low as 25 fps quite fine. Others do notice so much stuttering that it nauseates them. Physically. Also fluctuating FPS are more noticeable than stable FPS.

          • grundus says:

            I normally agree with what you (trjp) say but in this case I’m afraid I don’t. It’s not asking much for a console port (of which there are a million billion so far) to run at a stable frame rate, even if that’s only 30fps. Your example of a 120fps super smooth whatever is you being intentionally obtuse, no one was asking for that, just a game without inexplicable frame rate instability!

            Now if it was something like, I don’t know, dodgy collision detection, CTDs from doing a specific thing or other bugs that plausibly could have escaped the QA folk (and are repeatable and severe enough to be insta-patched) then fair enough, but something as elementary as the frame rate is not something you can shrug off with ‘Hey, it’s a new game, it doesn’t need a stable frame rate! Accept it for what it is and stop moaning!’, surely that attitude is why we have substandard games on release which get patched up afterwards (thus screwing early adopters and making them feel stupid, and therefore less likely to buy a game on day 1 again – I’m looking at you, DICE)?

          • kryator says:

            Wooa..calm down there (trjp) “mental disability”, “common sense blindness”?!

            I’m simply exposing that there’s a horrible fps fluctuation (even with all maxed or at MINIMUM) in that game lots of people talking about it, some are even locking the game to 30fps (I prefer that too instead of 35-60fps changes every 3 seconds) and you start saying shit, that this is to be expected, that people who refer to it have mental disabilities?..l
            LOL…lots of games come out every week and if you set up the settings acording to waht your PC is capable, you can get smooth 60 fps, but in this case, fps drops still persist even with all on low.

            Btw, welcome to my block list, because you really have a mental disability and a huge blindness in terms of common sense.

          • phylum sinter says:

            @trjp re: “acceptance of what is vs. an ideal in mind” i agree with you, when it comes to a certain feature or type of mechanic, but i think what the poster mentioning the dip in framerate was trying to point out was that this wasn’t ‘missing an ideal’ in a large amount of customers minds, it was missing “acceptable functionality”.

            Sure, the openness of the platform will mean that there will inevitably be some time in a pc gamer’s near future where they may have to tweak something manually, find a solution to a problem specific to their setup to run a game etc. – Maybe wait for a video driver update or a patch from the maker even – but beyond that, i think it reasonable to expect a game to work, and though i think the ending sentiment of the article was much in line with your suggestion of grinning and bearing the bad for the good of the overall experience, hearing about those design features that you’d rather they handled differently here in a WIT article is both welcome and natural.

    • pilouuuu says:

      You can make it slightly better by forcing 30 fps in the Config file in My Documents and setting triple buffering on. The game is unplayable without that, at least for me.

      And even then at times it sttuters like crazy even if playing on 800×600 and the lowest detail possible. It’s about as badly optimised as Dark Souls.

      Hopefully EA will fix this mess ASAP.

    • Greg says:

      I was playing NFS hot pursuit last night and was running into the same weird frame rate drops even on minimum graphical settings where normally I can max things out with little negative effect. I found it incredibly annoying and am definitely not getting most wanted if that is what many PC gamers are reporting. Is that autolog thing in most wanted as well? I got booted from the game because it couldn’t connect at one point. Ports…argh

  18. trjp says:

    I’m not greatly surprised here – Burnout Paradise was shit on release and the fixes which were made were done grudgingly and as they felt like it.

    Things like unskippable crash replays and an inability to restart a race (probably one of the biggest cock-ups in gaming history) drove me away from BP more than that strangled bullshit of a theme tune did.

    These games are being designed and signed-off by morons who’ve never played a game

    “Oh yeah – linger on that accident – in fact, can we roll an ad for Burnout Crash on iOS whilst it’s going on?”

    It’s possible that – in 3-6 months – they’ll fix this shit.

    It will be £5 by then too – wait for that.

    • Zanpa says:

      But you can restart a race in Paradise.

      • The First Door says:

        I think his point was before it was patched you couldn’t restart the race, although I’m not sure if this applied to PC or not, I can’t remember. Also, it was still a frustration even after it was put in because of the stupid menu system.

    • Howl says:

      I thought the race selection mechanic was the worst thing in the history of gaming. “Race to the wind farm” would result in me being stranded in a corner of the map with a five minute drive back to civilisation so that I could find another race to do.

  19. edwardoka says:

    Burnout Paradise is a good way to kill time, but when compared to, say, Midtown Madness, the races are ULTRA-mega-repetitive. Race from the baseball stadium to the windfarm ad nauseam. Oh good I’ve only driven that road a thousand times.

    I mean, how hard would it have been for them to implement checkpointed races of varying length instead of “A-to-B FOR EVAAAR!!!”

    Is that less of an issue in this?

    • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

      It’s not an issue in this, thank goodness. Races take place on checkpointed routes all over the map. There are even occasionally arrows that clarify the route, which is good, because I can’t count the number of times I chose the wrong road in Paradise and screwed myself over.

      • edwardoka says:

        That’s encouraging, thanks! I might have to pick this up then, as that was my main issue with Paradise.

  20. Miltrivd says:

    I get that you played this as Burnout Paradise 2 given that it’s Criterion, but seems you didn’t even think about the Need for Speed Most Wanted “part” of the title, not a single comparison with the former game and even naming some of its known features as new. Still enjoyed the read, but it felt a bit weird, kind of one sided, not sure I’m explaining myself clearly to be honest.

    • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

      It has nothing to do with the previous Most Wanted except for the fact that there are cops who chase you. If you really want a sequel to that game, rather than a sequel to Paradise, you will probably be disappointed by this one.

      • trjp says:

        It’s probably for the best – the original MW is one of – if not the best – arcade racer ever made.

        Great range of cars and events – genuinely exciting – great handling – an almost flawless package.

        This is corpse fucking, at best.

        p.s. yes, trying to end cop chases in the original could be challenging ;)

        • Miltrivd says:

          Sad to hear. I lost interest for arcade racing a long time ago, switching towards sim-arcade and rally games, but hell if I would love to play a proper continuation of NFS:MW. The trailers didn’t convince me, and seems to be plagued with “social stuff” to pad it, but no way to know for sure. Thanks for the comments.

  21. Jnx says:

    I was wondering why I wasn’t aware of this’ release being close. Then I realized it’s not on steam, that’s why.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      From the sound of it, Steam is apparently now blocking its users from accessing the rest of the world wide internet. Who knew Valve were going to be such cockblockers?

  22. BobbyDylan says:

    Didn’t I play this game a few years ago?

  23. bit.bat says:

    I generally really like prolonged crash sequences in games and find it quite annoying when a game decides to cut away from a car that definitely has a lot more tumbling to do. But I guess giving the player the choice to cut away if they want is the important thing here.

    The very first NFS had fantastic crashes by the way.

  24. Laurentius says:

    “splendidly” follows “splendidly” rather splendidly.

  25. pilouuuu says:

    More like Need for Sttuter: Most Crashed to me.

    Really, I’m having a hard time liking this game. I want to like it, and I played much more than I should considering it’s sad state. I cannot recommend the game before it is fixed.

    OK, the speed of the game is a bit better if you lock it to 30 frames in the config in My Documents and set triple buffering on. But even then at some times the games stutters badly and since your car crashes even if it goes slowly and barely touches a wall, it becomes really, really annoying.

    When it gets fixed it will be worth playing a bit, but it’s not on the same level as the original Most Wanted. The city is not as interesting or beautiful and the gameplay is not as good. At some races I felt really entertained by this game, but it’s not even on the same level as Hot Pursuit or Burnout Paradise.

    Next Gen can’t come soon enough!

  26. whatfruit says:

    Well this review has really thrown a wrench into my expectations.

  27. TechnicalBen says:

    “The very worst part of BP – those slow, frustrating and unskippable crash sequences that everyone in the whole world, including babies and Vladimir Putin, said were stupid and horrible”
    Your wrong. So wrong. I actually made it part of my game to do as many “crashes” in one car without writing it off. Made for quite some interesting handbrake turns trying to just take off a bumper, but leave my engine running. :D

    Granted, a “skip” option would be more welcome than a “have to watch”. I’m all up for options in gameplay, just don’t say my gameplay is the option that needs dropping. ;)

  28. PARSEC says:

    No bonnet cam , what the he…Oh well… Need For Speed – Least Wanted!

  29. sonofsanta says:

    Is there fast travel yet? That was what put me off Paradise in the end, I had avoided races to the wind farm so many times that they were all I had left. The races were fine and exciting, but by Horace, driving back down that long, uneventful road for 5 minutes after every single race got real old, real fast.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Yes there is fast travel, but only once you’ve already been to a place.

  30. SuicideKing says:

    Hmmm…i don’t know what you expected, really. After what Criterion did to NFS Hot Pursuit, I knew they’d do this to the new MW too…

  31. The Random One says:

    The last Burnout game I played was Burnout 2. On the GameCube. I hated it for a number of reasons, one of which where the ridiculous crash animations, that would sometimes trigger after lightly touching an obstacle. The instant replay made it look like the driver touched something, freaked out and slammed the brakes.

    I can’t believe after over ten years the same bloody thing is happening.

  32. Arkadion says:

    I have a question for you, John: should I buy this NFS or Burnout Paradise?

    I already have Forza Horizon and am enjoying it.

  33. MistyMike says:

    John Walker is wrong on the Internet. Even Herman Van Rompuy would agree that the crashing animations of BP were, to paraphrase, ‘fucking glorious’. These panes splintering into glimmering shards, these sheets that actually bend and deform! The abrupt stop when you didn’t notice the grey civilian car on the grey tarmack and smashed into it at 200 mph was breathtaking. The whole rythm of the game was fast, then slow, than fast again. I can’t see why anybody would want it out, I only worry if Criterion actually did them properly with the breaking metal, since they are working with licensed cars this time.

    • ttcfcl says:

      Yea I’m really sad and disappointed a company that earned it’s reputation making games that glorified crashing and made it look freaking amazing is now relagated to making racing games with the same old wimpy watered down scratch and dent crashes as every other licensed car racer because they don’t want to hurt the manufacturers feelings. Call me when a true Burnout sequel comes out.

  34. grundus says:

    What I don’t get is their aversion to allowing you to turn off the crash cam. Look at Sniper Elite V2, they made a huge deal of the X-ray kill cam and they still let you adjust how frequently it happened, though admittedly I’m not sure you can turn it off… Burnout: Most Wanted (ouch, right?)’s marketing never made a big deal of ‘ohmyactualgod CRASHES’ yet you can’t turn it off. Maybe the playtest focus group thing only did about five minutes each or something?

  35. QualityJeverage says:

    The comments here were really surprising to me. I had nothing but a ridiculously good time with this game, and with Burnout Paradise. Absolutely adore both of ‘em.

    Always interesting how much tastes can differ, I guess.

    • iucounu says:

      I just remember when B:P came out. The last Burnout game I’d played was Revenge, and that was brilliant. I don’t even like racing games, but I loved it. But Paradise removed the incredibly fun crash junction mode, and the demo I played made me drive around looking for races instead of just, you know, letting me select a race to drive in. I didn’t want the open-world side of it in the least, because it felt like a time-consuming pointless level-select, so I never bought it.

      • particlese says:

        I really missed crash mode from Burnout 3 when I played Paradise, so I went nuts when I discovered the latter’s similar “showtime” mode. It’s not as satisfying, but it’s fun and is close enough to stave off nostalgia for playing my rooommate’s xbox.

  36. fox01313 says:

    Agreed from what I’ve seen that this needs DJ Atomika or something similar to give it a bit of personality but the multiplayer of this is more closer to Paradise than the single player. Hopefully the next Burnout game will take the multiplayer in this then improve on it more for the next one that this studio does so cheers that this studio has the NFS franchise to test things out to make the next full Burnout game awesome.

  37. PopeRatzo says:

    Man, I love this new NFS game. I’m a big fan of the way Criterion does arcade racers, and playing NFS: Most Wanted (2012) has been providing the needed dosage of dopamine.

    Though my daughter keeps wondering why I’m yelling, “NOOO!” so much, I can’t really tell her that it’s because I just crashed into a NPC car or concrete abutment in a video game when I’m on her to be studying all the time.

    I even had the expected experience that I get in all NFS and Criterion games, where the car handling and the physics feels unusably awful and I think I’m never going to get five minutes of enjoyment out of this game. Of course, three races later I’m used to the new handling and I’m tearing up the streets.

    I’m so grateful to have a fun arcade racer again. I’m so sick of third-person console shooters crappily ported to PC. I wish there was a little more bad heavy music in NFS:MW. Something like the Junkie XL “All My Cities Lay in Dust” or “Rusty Cage” from Burnout Paradise.

  38. MistyMike says:

    Burnout Paradise had a hilariously unfitting soundtrack at times, with the clinical depression anthem ‘Would?’ by Alice in Chains being the prime example.

  39. Shralla says:

    What do you mean, crashing isn’t a theme? It isn’t a Burnout game if there isn’t a heavy focus on takedowns during racing. Are you saying that there isn’t?

  40. Gorf says:

    I hate rear view and i hate bumper view, my default is bonnet view which this doesnt have, plus the fact that if its like BP,HP etc and all the other identical shit we’ve been getting the last few years then its a definate no buy for me.
    Last good NFS was U2 and last good burnout was Revenge, apart from that Forza and Project Gotham are amazing games (wish we had Forza on PC) and so is GRID so i cant wait fro GRID2 next year.

  41. Megakoresh says:

    I think that since BP was also published by EA and since, as we know, the only way with EA is down, they just told Criterion to copy/paste Burnout Paradise, reskin it, add police and licensed cars (cuz you have to earn the name somehow) and name it an NFS. Why improve when you have something that works and that you can copy/paste with spending less money and then sell it under a more known name for 20 Euros more?
    At least it still has the fun element. Most EA games do not.

  42. mwoody says:

    Wow, the idea that a race is car-specific just absolutely ruins it for me. I didn’t even care a bit about being forced to watch the crash animations. But the joy of unlocking a new car is the idea that it’s going to gain you a toehold in the ever-increasing speed and difficulty.

    It’s like the Oblivion of racing games: why level when it means everything else levels too?

    Bah, I so enjoyed the old Burnout games, but they’ve gone progressively away from what I enjoyed. The open world is, like in SSX, a pointless annoyance that only serves to limit the creativity of the levels; a way to pad out the gametime by forcing you to drive between activation points. And where are the carefully sculpted, almost puzzle-like crash maps, where you wielded your vehicle like a weapon?

  43. casshern09 says:

    Just want to point out to people that the game is heavily CPU bound and even on a very high end PC the FPS fluctuates a lot. Drops to below 30 at times.
    For the sake of arguement I’m running it on..

    Intel i7 3770K 4.6ghz
    16GB DDR3 2600mhz
    2 x GTX680 SLI
    Win 7

    Also there is no SLI support.
    The game though, is great fun.

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  45. UncleLou says:

    No PC demo, and the one for the PS3 is plus-subscribers exclusive.

    Fools.

  46. Aankhen says:

    I don’t understand the hate for Paradise City and DJ Atomika. :-( Okay, you might get a little tired of Paradise City after hearing it one too many times, but DJ Atomika? Every now and then I’d be driving along, there’d be a lull in the sound, DJ Atomika would say something and I’d just crack up.

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  48. fooga44 says:

    Game sucks, it is a poor sequel to Most wanted. They should have named it something else, the game has hardly anything in common with most wanted.

    I wanted a sequel to Most wanted, what I got was burnout paradise redux… fucking gay!

  49. Howl says:

    HEAT LEVEL DECREASED.

    Yeah.. that’s lovely and everything but do you have to obscure the central 33% of my vision with that message because I’m probably going to crash into oncoming traffic now.