Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review - Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) | Rubbish on wheels

Source: EA | Note the cars are drifting with their front wheels facing forward.. huh..

Better late than never but then again, I never intended to get this game in the first place. Since it was made FREE for the Vita via PSN during the PSX expo last week, I nabbed it anyway.

I'm just glad I didn't have to pay for it.

I've played a lot of racers ranging from arcade to simulation throughout the years. The NFS series has been one of my favorite arcade racer until it evolved into the "Fast & Furious" inspired Underground and beyond. NFS Shift brought back my faith into the series but it all went downhill again afterwards.

NFS Most Wanted, developed by Criterion Games, is actually a 2012 reboot with an open world concept and a vision of mixing Need For Speed with Burnout. NFS is known for it's arcade paced racers and Burnout (originally developed by Criterion) is an over-the-top racer with illogical physics and fuck awesome explosions. A marriage of both games will be a dream come true, right? Nope. It's like a clash of ideals.

NFS + Burnout? What can go wrong? ..well

Rather than greeted with a main menu screen to select the type of game modes and which car you wish to use, you immediately start the game in real-time. Your D-pad buttons act as an on-the-go menu system where you can check available races, upgrades, challenges and access to the game's online/ad-hoc multiplayer. Multi-tasking with this is not entirely possible and I'd rather a screen solely dedicated for everything that makes up a main menu.

The menu is shown in real-time rather than having a dedicated screen

You do get to change cars later on in the game but with a catch - you have to find the damn cars hidden in the city first. Each car will have it's own exclusive races and challenges in order to earn NFS points and unlockable car upgrades. There are no currencies to spend in-game and NFS points are for unlocking upgrades, races, and determining your position in the leader board. Races that you've not participated in will require you to drive to their locations and those that you've already participated in will have a "start race" shortcut instead. While it does keep things engaging in a sense, completing these races for each car can be rather repetitive. Especially when the racing itself is not fun.

Playing NFS: Most Wanted reminded me of Midnight Club so much, and I hated that series thanks to the retarded checkpoint race system and cheap AI. Two of these elements are present in Most Wanted.

Due to the open world concept, the roads that make up the race circuits is determined by a flawed checkpoint system. You won't know the next turn will be a gruesome 90 degree junction until you see the check marker indicating that you should refer to your minimap. Other details such as roadblocks, incoming traffic and spike traps are so small and unnoticeable in Vita's screen. By then, it's already too late and this will force you to restart the race. Restarting races will be something you'll do often in this game.

In typical NFS fashion, you start the race last and you have to overtake all of your opponents to get pole position. The AI in Most Wanted can be extremely unforgiving and cheap. Based on the difficulty setting of the races, opponent and cop cars will have superior acceleration, top speed and impact. While challenging, it's infuriating that they can suddenly catch up with you in no time and smack you around into a crash or nonchalantly zip pass you.

So, you got competitiveness and challenge in this game. That said, it should make Most Wanted a decent racer. It doesn't. There's no fun found in this game. After playing this game for hours and restarting race after race just to get pole position and the best race times, I felt like I just wasted time and effort to achieve something because I hated the system so much. It didn't have any "Wow!" moments or anything that can be categorized as "having fun".

Not to say I hate games with insane difficulty. I had huge amounts of fun playing playing Demon's Souls and the Dark Souls series. That's saying something.

The NFS series really lost it's touch. Perhaps, there will never be another NFS game with Hot Pursuit's level of awesomeness and fun. The newer games barely hit the mark and let's not mention the god forsaken film adaptation.

Of all things. A Need For Speed movie. I know right?!

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