The last two games in the Need For Speed franchise have been something truly “unique” to put it nicely. Named Need For Speed: Underground and Need For Speed: Underground 2 respectively, EA chose to stray from the NFS gameplay norms in delivering something to really appeal to the mainstream. Without a doubt, movies like Fast and the Furious and tv shows like MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” were undoubtedly inspirations with the Underground games. They both featured stories of you being this “unknown, wannabe racer” that had to work his way through the ranks to gain respect on the streets. In the meantime, you “upgraded” your vehicle with everything you were able to unlock. This could’ve been anything from your engine’s performance to the very exterior look of your ride.
However, there were two major things missing in both games. One was visible damage. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s just say that crashing into any given obstacle on a track at 200 mph head-on would never warrant you seeing any kind of visible physical damage to your car. Now that’s a bit strange isn’t it? The second is the absence of cops! Now I don’t think anyone could really understand why this happened to be the case, since one of the core gameplay features of NFS has been those cop chases. But in both Underground games, they all seemed to be stuck to their high rising stools at the donut shop. In other words, the cops not having been present in either game could almost lend players to assume that what they were doing wasn’t illegal!
Need For Speed: Most Wanted seeks to go back to its roots while still maintaining some of the aspects from the Underground series. There will be at least 40 playable cars in the game, although a good number more are expected to be in the final version. In terms of actual models, a good number of car manufacturers are being represented here. They include Porsche (Carmen S), Mazda (RX8), Toyota, Chevrolet (Corvette), Ford (Mustang GT), Lamborghini, Cadillac, BMW (GT4) and Volkswagen. Thankfully in this new NFS installment, SUVs will no longer be making an appearance, but don’t be expecting to see any Ferraris either.
But to make racing all these cars a little more exciting, EA chose to hire a custom builder to actually modify the normal appearance of these vehicles JUST for the game. Each model will be different from their real life counterparts, and their unique appearance should make driving them more enjoyable in the actual game. All the vehicles can also be painted to your liking and aesthetically modified to really look like that souped-up ride that you’ve always wanted. However, with these visual enhancements come differences in how each actually control. It seems based on the demo that the cars don’t “feel” like they normally might in real life. The turning sensitivity seems more intense and just how they control overall appears to be a bit different. It is supposedly easy enough to get used to, but only we can be the deciders of that. Why EA would even think to modify how the cars actually control is a bit strange, which lends you to think their infamous “arcade” elements will be very evident here.
Now we have the actual racing modes that are known to exist at this point. They are currently comprised of three different special types of races: toll booth, sprint and drag. They all seem to increase in difficulty from start to finish of that particular list. The actual racing of the game is complimented by a 30 frames per second rate, with civilian, cop and opponent cars gracing your television screen.
Then we have the game’s straight racing and pursuit racing. You can actually play the main game however you please, but eventually you will be forced to take part in either of the two previously mentioned. The actual racing is comprised of the three different modes explained before, while pursuits encompass variations of cop chases. These can include point-to-point, time-based, speed trap races and more that we don’t yet know about. A brand new feature being introduced to the NFS franchise in this game is Pursuit Breaker. This isn’t meant to be confused with EA’s NBA Street Breaker system, but the ideas are somewhat similar. How the Breaker system works in this game is basically as a tool for you to use in thwarting cop pursuits. You can basically use destructible objects such as water towers to slow down or completely stop cops from chasing you. Doing so successful will earn you some nice points!
Need For Speed: Most Wanted also features a story, but it’s not quite as expansive as the Underground ones were. It really isn’t the core of the actual game either, but there still is one there to experience. The beginning of the game will set up the story through about a 6-9 minute long FMV. Of course, you’re the “new guy” in town, and you’re very much interested in becoming the baddest racer known around. To do this, you must defeat all the racers in the city that are currently on the “black list”. Your new adversary happens to be Sgt. Cross, the city’s sheriff, who’s determined to put a stop to all this illegal street racing. He basically wants to ban the whole deal altogether. During actual races, you’ll be able to earn yourself bounty points which you can in turn use to enter new races, buy new vehicles or modify your current ones to your liking. Car modifications will include exterior and performance enhancements, but they too aren’t keys to the overall game’s experience. That is a good thing since the racing is what you should be focusing your attention upon.
Now as for the actual gameplay, the demo showed three different types. The first it showed off was a simple point-to-point race in which you had to finish under a certain time limit. The actual city in the game is a fictitious area inspired by the East Coast that is littered with long, narrow and crazily bending streets. This happens to be just like previous NFS. But now there will be more hills, turning as well as multiple paths to drive through and shortcuts to utilize. The demo race happened to take you through a more suburban-inspired area complimented with a county fair. Yes of course there is a Ferris W heel in it, and a good amount of destructible objects could be seen.
The next part happened to be a single opponent drag race that was put on display at this year’s E3. Now just like they were in the Underground games, the action and excitement contained within these races is crazier than ever. The actual race took place in narrowed neighborhood streets while passing through a series of rather intimidating hills. At some point you will also happen to cross right through a major intersection that just happens to have an 18 wheeler barreling through it! The funny thing is the game is actually scripted to do that, so you’ll pretty much have to expect that to happen every time you drag race. You then find yourself in a car-filled tunnel that happens to lead out to a sweet exit ramp that will send you straight into a speed trap.
The second race that is shown off is a pure and simple drag race. They are pretty much completely reminiscent of the Underground games, with slight differing features. Just like the changing of lanes had a sort of “magnetic” feel in Underground, that will be making a nice return in Most Wanted. You will also have to manually shift gears again, making the whole race dependent upon your reaching peak speeds controller hand skills. Some luck will also help in participating in these races. Interestingly enough, there happened to be a shortcut in this race, which begs you to wonder what they could possibly be.
While actually racing in these drag competitions, the game will rate the quality of your gear shifts just like the Underground games did. Such ratings as “too early”, “short”, or “perfect” will be given to you. Then depending on just how well you shift, you have a chance of completely burning out your engine, which obviously isn’t a good thing. No engine means no racing, you’re done! But if you manage to achieve the skills required to perform well in these races, you will increase your acceleration without any kind of interruption. This will basically require all perfects on your part in the shifting. The increased acceleration will then lead to higher top speeds and ousting your opponents!
Another new feature that may aid a lot of players will also change your strategy just a little bit. In a sort of “Bullet Time” effect, you can literally slow down time by the simple press of a button! This will allow you to more skillfully steer through tougher turns, pressuring situations or any kind of near-collisions with just about anything that you can crack into. This feature happens to be more similar to the “Focus” feature in Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 than Max Paine’s bullet time gun attacks. But nevertheless, you’ll find yourself wanting to use the feature quite a bit; since it will help you avoid potentially devastating your position in any particular race.
The last part of the demo happened to be the most invigorating. At the end of the second part, you will find yourself blazing through one of the city’s many toll booths. Then without much surprise, you discover the toll booth is being monitored by the cops. It also happens to take your very photograph as well as clocking the speed at which you were going when running through it. The camera flash seems to blind you for a second or two as the screen goes completely white, and then you all of a sudden hear the cops on radio heavy with voice activity.
At this very point, you will find yourself immediately being pursued by a good dozens of cops. A map can actually be pulled up while you are racing to view just where you are in the city as well as seeing just how many cops are pursuing you, but it’s best to really maintain focus on the race. The cops will start off by just calmly driving alongside you, trying to peacefully detain your progress. But as you speed up, the aggressiveness of the cops will begin increasing. They will begin ramming you, swerving left and right and speeding ahead of you in an attempt to stop you. They will also try to completely surround you in an attempt to direct you into some sort of unknown obstacle that will basically put you at a dead stop.
But just as about all games featuring cops, they aren’t the most intelligent people around. They aren’t stupid either, which is a good thing. But moreso than anything else, they are just downright aggressive towards you and work in great numbers. You can very much outsmart and out-drive them if you’re paying attention enough, so you have that. When they try to completely surround you, simply slow down making them think you are going to go one way, then dramatically change direction and head off accordingly! You can lead them into oncoming traffic if your heart so desires, causing some nice destruction in the process. You can also trick them by going into a traffic-filled tunnel and then quickly backing out, or you can use your trusty nitro and simply make them eat your rubber!
So come this November, the cops have returned and with a vengeance! You can no longer hide under the night time of a fake city, as you will be pursued at many points during the game. Whether it’s in the narrow streets, traffic-filled tunnels, or enclosed alleyways, you are the Most Wanted November 15! If you thought cops and police helicopters were bad, try dealing with them AND the city’s traffic!