EA revs up Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Publisher divulges first details, screen of the next installment in its popular racing series; promises next-gen version this November.

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In January, rumors swirled around that the next Need for Speed game would be subtitled "Most Wanted." Today, those rumors were confirmed, as Electronic Arts officially announced the game. Like its predecessor, Need for Speed Underground 2, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is being developed by Vancouver studio EA Canada and will be available for the PC, DS, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and PlayStation 2. It will also be the second Need for Speed game released for the PSP handheld.

According to EA, Most Wanted will combine "the thrill of illicit street racing and tuner customization with the intensity of strategic police pursuits." The description would appear to confirm rumors that the series is returning to its chase-centric roots, versus the story-driven gameplay of Need for Speed Underground 2, which received mixed reviews. However, the game will still have "a dynamic open world," meaning it will likely again feature a sprawling metropolis as its setting.

EA also revealed several tidbits about the next Need for Speed's gameplay. To increase their street cred and be challenged to more impressive races, players will have to "build up their rap sheet" by evading police. As players successfully complete more and more dangerous feats of illegality, they will move up the so-called "Black List" in order "to become the most wanted racer on the streets," according to EA.

The announcement also confirmed the second part of the January rumor, namely that Most Wanted will also ship for "a next generation console" this November alongside its current-gen counterparts. While the publisher did not reveal which platform the racer was in development for, the timing of the release makes it likely that it will drive onto the next Xbox, which is expected to hit the market this coming holiday season.

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