My boyfriend stayed for a few days this week, and we decided that when he left we should get a game we can play together through Xbox Live. It’s going to be about another 3 months before he comes to stay again, so a bit of gaming should keep us going. We both love playing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit together, so it only seemed logical to Need for Speed Most Wanted. Now, when it comes to racing games I’m really not very good. I enjoy them, but I mostly end up sounding like James May off Top Gear, shouting ‘Oh, cock’ every time I crash into a wall or another vehicle. Nonetheless, it provides amusement for myself and the man so off we popped to HMV in our respective locations, armed with money off vouchers and a clear goal in mind; Getting the game for less than £30.
Anyway, I had a good three hour session on the game last night and had a little burst today so I just wanted to give my quick feelings on it. First of all, I think the IGN review is far too nice to this game, and I would definitely sway more towards GameSpots rating. Why? Because it is by no means perfect. I played the Alpha version of this game a while back, and while the single player has certainly been improved, the multiplayer aspect is just as frustrating as when I first played it.
The single player is a lot of fun, and you certainly feel the speed as you are racing around. I’m on the fence about having all the cars available to you at the beginning. I understand that they wanted the cars to be accessible from the very beginning for players of any level, but even for me as a player who is by no means fantastic, I feel as though they have taken some incentive away from me. As much as it frustrates me to start with a rubbish car, the satisfaction of building up to a bigger and better one is a wonderful feeling. You don’t get that in this game. You get excited when you find a new car, but that’s all you did, you found it. You have found a beautifu Koenigsegg, but you didn’t do anything special to get to it.
When it comes down to the narrative, it’s entirely non existent in my opinion. You have to beat the ten most wanted cars, and that’s it. Do some races along the way, earn some NOS and you’re sorted. This isn’t a criticism from me, but some might find this a little offputting. The races with the Most Wanted are fun to do, and chasing them down after you beat them is great as well. The cop chases are very high speed and fun to do, but when you’re in a less than desirable car and your most wanted level is creeping up it can be very difficult to get away from them.
My main gripe with the game is the multiplayer however. I’ve seen the multiplayer praised online, but I just don’t understand why. It feels broken. There is no option to just do a quick race with a friend like you could in Hot Pursuit and this really frustrated me and the boyfriend. All we wanted to do was drop into a multiplayer session, be dropped where we needed to be and have a good old fashioned race. Instead we were met with a list of challenges, making us drive around the map to start them, and find that we were facing the wrong way. Personally I think the multiplayer isn’t very accessible at all. I think for newcomers to the series it’s going to be very jarring, and an unpleasant experience. It’s too slapdash, and it has no organisation to it. I understand it’s meant to continue the open world feeling, but I just don’t think it works.
I paid £27.99 for the game and I don’t regret it. The multiplayer in my opinion needs a patch to make it more accessible, but the single player is good fun, if not a little repetitive. The game is fast paced, and there are some beautiful cars in it. The scenery is beautiful, and it’s fantastic that you are not restricted just to the normal path. Shortcuts take you to new cars, and to new billboards to smash through. As a final little nod to Criterion, I very much appreciate the little garages dotted around the map, letting you fix your car as you drive through in the middle of a race, and get a new paint job while you’re at it.
Most Wanted is an arcade racer, and it’s clear to see that from the visuals and the gameplay. If you want something as good as Hot Pursuit in terms of challenge, don’t buy this game. There is very little challenge in getting the cars, only in completing the races. You can’t pimp your car as much as I was expecting which is a let down, but again, it’s an arcade racer not a sim.