Familiarity breeds content in Need for Speed: Most Wanted

E3 2012: Most Wanted feels a lot like Burnout: Paradise, and that feeling of sameness saps away much of the thrill.

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Last Month, former Bizarre Creations developer Gareth Williams said that racing games, maybe more than any other genre, need new technology to thrive. He argued that it's harder to convince people to buy a sequel to a racing game, even great ones such as Dirt and Project Gotham Racing, without a new physics engine and graphical overhaul, something only next-generation consoles would be able to provide. It' a bold and certainly controversial claim, but after spending a bit of time playing Need for Speed: Most Wanted, we now understand exactly where Williams was coming from.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a reboot of the original game of the same name, although now that Criterion has taken over development duties, it's ignoring the so-bad-it's-good story that was one of the defining characteristics of the Xbox 360 launch title. After a brief description about the core features of Most Wanted (open world, multiplayer Autolog, licensed cars), we fired up a multiplayer game so we could get behind the wheel to see how it ran.

The resemblance to Burnout Paradise was stunning. After spending a minute or two driving around the open-world city to familiarize ourselves with the controls, the screen switched to a black-and-white display to announce that an event was taking place. Following the green marker on the map, we made our way to the designating starting area along with seven other players, playfully crashing into each other as we waited for the race to begin. Once the checkered flag dropped, we sped toward the goal. Because it's an open world, we could drive down alleys or take ramps to hidden shortcuts, all while muscling each other into walls and trying to cause as much chaos as possible.

Once that event wrapped up, we started two more with different objectives. In one, a ramp leading to a suspended bridge lay in a dirt-covered parking lot, and whoever got the most air off of this structure would win. In another, top speed is all that mattered, though getting your speedometer up is mighty difficult when seven other players are trying to halt your progress.

Most Wanted controlled exceptionally well and was definitely fun, something you would expect from a Criterion-made game. But it was so familiar that it was far from thrilling. Keep in mind that we saw only a brief demo of an incomplete game, but what Criterion chose to show was so similar to Burnout: Paradise that it could have been another piece of downloadable content if it didn't carry the Need for Speed name.

Criterion is fighting an uphill battle with itself. Its previous open-world game contained most of the features we've seen so far in Most Wanted, and with excellent track design and precise controls, it was just as fun to play as well. And though Paradise is more than four years old, it was so loaded with content that those who enjoyed its destructive pleasures could easily sink a hundred or more hours into that glorious oasis. Remember, not only did Paradise ship with a huge world to explore and tons of events right on the disc, but Criterion heaped on oodles of free content during the life of the game that added significant changes.

More of the same isn't an inherently bad thing, but Criterion showed little that made us excited for spending more time in an open-world experience that's remarkably similar to its previous game. Though Autolog, an asynchronous multiplayer feature that debuted in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, will return in Most Wanted, we didn't get a chance to see how it would change our experience given that the demonstration focused on head-to-head multiplayer. Considering Autolog gives you easy access to your friends' times and lets you set up your own challenges in Hot Pursuit, it could offer a significant change in Most Wanted, but there's no evidence of that now.

Instead, we saw events ripped straight from Burnout: Paradise, and it's simply not as fun to compete in the same racing types in a similar-feeling city with similar controls. There's no telling if better technology would make Most Wanted a more interesting game, as Gareth Williams argues. But it's hard to deny the deflating familiarity of Criterion's latest entry in the venerable Need for Speed series. We look forward to seeing more aspects of this game in the coming months, but for now, we're left with a feeling of deja vu.

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted - A Criterion Game

Discussion

66 comments
unreal101
unreal101

Tom is completely forgetting about the ACTUAL defining factor of Most Wanted, which is the constant presence of the police. It set the original MW apart, and it will make this game different from Burnout

panda_fu
panda_fu

I get it now, The Ps3 and 360 arent ready for the epicness that WILL be NFS Underground 3.Will have my pulsing boot neon again eventually. ; )

Mire2k3
Mire2k3

Rather have them work on Burnout, will see how this turns out.

Tasnuv
Tasnuv

Tilted> Brim low, Brim low> With a Cardia Eye and his car go by like NEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWWWWW...!

gutworm
gutworm

can you remake nfs porsche unleashed - last nfs worthy of its name, pretty please?

berrymanav
berrymanav

Can we tune car and modify looks like we did in NFS underground?

HaloGears402
HaloGears402

Didn't this game came out already like 6 years ago?

AyeeeMatt
AyeeeMatt

As long as they keep customization, it's a buy. 

daredevil313
daredevil313

our only hope for this game that EA is finally listened to us and made something that IS little interesting -so we could say -

ZachBobBob
ZachBobBob

This is why I don't like criterion making NFS games! They feel like Burnout...and I'd rather they just made an AMAZING burnout game instead :/

tevic
tevic

By unending chases I mean that being busted after a 13 minutes police chase is really, really not fun...

tevic
tevic

The main problem with the first NFS Most Wanted was the unending chases that became very irritating in the second part of the game.

I suppose Criterion won't wake this mistake...

tevic
tevic

Tom, go back playing your 2D Mario games ! :)

Lions_heart
Lions_heart

Wow. I was waiting for this for a while... finalllllllllly! A burnout paradise styled Racing game with better graphics. Forza Horizen would not work for me as it seems not thrilling enough like burnout paradise to me. Its more like Forza 3 or 4 on open world. Anyway still play burnout paradise as it rocks and online still going strong.

bnoftall1969
bnoftall1969

I loved NFS Hot Pursuit from Criterion. i hope this game is as good but what i think Criterion should make a classic muscle car NFS with the 60's 70's muscle cars. Mustang, GTO, Daytona,Road Runner,442,Chevelle. That would be sweet.

korosaki-ichigo
korosaki-ichigo

is this a sequel of nfs MW or a remake ?????????????

catamjad
catamjad

After all, I hope that the customization option in the cars like : colors , body kits , engines ... etc.are still there 

or ,,, It's not a most wanted remake , It's just a new need for speed game . 

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I was initially very excited for another NFS made by Criterion, but if it's basically a Burnout: Paradise clone then I'll definitely be skipping it. Call me crazy but I didn't enjoy Paradise.

aaron25m
aaron25m

They make this sound like its online only anyone want to clarify that for me?

 

BKGlover
BKGlover

It's Need for Speed, made by a studio who knows how to make games that are both good and fun. I love Paradise, so bring it on.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

I am sure it will turn out to be a great game - similar to Paradise is hardly a bad thing!

Mariner32
Mariner32

I don't know. In my opinion, another Criterion-developed NFS can only be a good thing. I absolutely loved the remake of Hot Pursuit but the only previous NFS title I've really loved was Underground 2. However I've really enjoyed all the Burnout titles I've played, Paradise most of all. So if the new Most Wanted is pretty much just more of Burnout: Paradise, then I say bring it on!

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

burnout paradise is probably my favorite racing game ever. more of that seems awesome to me (i managed to run out of content for it :D)

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

I liked the Burnout game when they were Burnout games but this whole melding of 2 games needs to stop. NFS sucks at the moment.....don't make it suck harder.....

As far as open world racers go I have a good feeling about Forza Horizon.....

Max_160
Max_160

GREAT! Shift 2 had the most broken customization in the world, next several NFS games after shift 2 get no customization at all, and now the remade most wanted, which is based on the RPG style of customization, tuner cars, and tuning get none of that stuff. i swear EA put their nose in ME3 and fuckd up the ending, which it promised to give us 16 different endings, but we get only 1 with different colors, and now they fuck up NFSMW. and if i still don't convince you, look at what activision has done to blizzard games! same thing as EA. activision destroyed guitar hero and tony hawk games. everything these 2 large over hyped companies touch turn into overpriced, low quality, and overhyped crap that lasts about half year-a year before same thing comes out.

Gundamdesign
Gundamdesign

Need for speed HP was ok, the original most wanted was great so I'll just wait for a demo and take I from there, if it looks like the run and plays like HP I'll get it, if it's more like the run on both kiss it goodbye

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

I love the NFS series. but if this quote- "Most Wanted feels a lot like Burnout: Paradise"- is true, then I don't want it.

 

I know I am in the minority, I hate the Burnout games.  It's fun to crash like three times.  Then it becomes incredibly jarring to continue to play.  Burnout was one of the only games that would give me a headache.

 

I am guessing the writer just doesn't know what he's talking about, comparing it to Burnout.

Shmoe82
Shmoe82

 @killerintherye I see what you're getting at but this is "Most Wanted" from the Most wanted series, not the Hot Pursuit series.

killerintherye
killerintherye

 @AyeeeMatt

 There was no customization in the game Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit that Criterion made 2 years ago.  Probably won't be in this one either.

WillyChong
WillyChong

 @tevic BMW is so overpowered that no way you can't get away easily, try harder!

WillyChong
WillyChong

 @tevic Getting caught after 13 minutes of chase in Most Wanted is a scenario which you don't try hard enough to dodge the cops, I have a 30 minutes chaotic chase on Most Wanted and still get away clean with the SLR McLaren on Most Wanted :| Played for so long, never get busted each time the game ends

WillyChong
WillyChong

 @Lions_heart For me NFS heat dies after Carbon, and rekindle a little in the 2010 Hot Pursuit, but they decided to just top the lighted candle with another candle again......

WillyChong
WillyChong

 @Lions_heart Froza Motorsport, somehow got my attention, all outback racing with customization made you really feel good in every race. I like NFS Hot Persuit 2010, but its becoming an annoying trend to just copy and paste again and again, changing very little, even the title is gotten somewhere before...... the next will likely be a NFS Carbon 2016, a burnout style racing game with NFS at night.......

wolf503
wolf503

 @catamjad "...not a most wanted remake" I see what you did there. xD

thrice00
thrice00

 @PlatinumPaladin You're not crazy. Who the hell thought NFS would be nice with burnout physics....... Oh yeah..... EA did.

keymaster7
keymaster7

 @aaron25m From what I can see, they are more focused in online "interactive gameplay", since they think that it will make the players play longer due to been competitive, rather than an awesome single player like the Origianl Most Wanted

crazimax
crazimax

 @Mariner32 hell yeah dude!!..my wish came true when i saw the e3 demo..now if only the game would support the GT Pro wheel, it would be icing on the cake..that was the only thing missing from HOT PURSUIT

icedstar666
icedstar666

 @Max_160

 i totally agree with you dude, what made need for speed great in my opinion was underground, underground 2 and most wanted, cuz the customization level they had and the great street racing feel to them, now its all the same crap over and over, you dont need a new engine or improved graphics to make a great racing game, just look at those old titles. nfs shift was a joke and hot pursuit had great controls but no story at all so i got bored after 2 hours cuz all i could do was change the car color... what happened to ride height? rims? custom bodykits? at least give me wheels, ride height, and camber kits FFS... when i saw the title coming up in the ea presentation i was super happy but 2 mins of the gameplay footage and i was bored already... i think ea is fucking up everything lately the only game that i still enjoy is fifa and thats about it i loved mass effect and mass effect 2 but since i saw that much hate towards mass effect 3 i didnt even played the game.

icedstar666
icedstar666

 @gatsbythepig

 burnout sucks and this game sucks too so i guess the writer is right to compare them, the original most wanted was so epic and i cant believe that they are putting the same name into this POS that looks like its not gonna have single player at all so forget about having story or customization at all.

 

so yeah is just like burnout paradise... a piece of smelly crap

killerintherye
killerintherye

 @Shane_Padget

 A second remake with the same name as the first two and made by the same studio as the second remake.  What the...???

poseidion
poseidion

 @killerintherye True, but in the original NFS: Hot Pursuit I and II there were no customizations either. In the original NFS: Most Wanted customization was available so who knows. Anyway, "deja vu" or not, Forza Horizon looks great and I'm gonna be a little busy for this one :)

killerintherye
killerintherye

 @keymaster7

 The 2010 Need for Speed Most Wanted made by Criterion had an Autolog which kept stats from your friends and shared your stats with them, but it still had single player - that really sucked and had very few police chases in it.