Need for Speed: Most Wanted Hands-On (E3 2012 Preview)

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is my favorite NFS title ever. It’s super fast paced, fun, challenging, and just so damn good. Criterion stepped out so EA Blackbox could produce The Run, a terrible followup to one of the best racing games of 2010, but with two years of intense labor the British game developer has revealed the latest in their line, Most Wanted.

The main difference between the two games is Most Wanted takes on an entirely different approach when it comes to online competitive play. While Hot Pursuit was just about the race, Most Wanted is about every aspect of racing, from getting first place in a straight run to jumping the furthest off a cliff. Large maps feature less winding roads and more suburban areas. It’s not only a race against the clock or against other players, it’s now a race to be the best in every aspect of the drive.

This works in two ways, the traditional sense and a very existential “score anywhere” motto. Certain streets have traffic lights that score who drove by them the fastest, so while you may suck at driving, you can still set a high score there, or somewhere else. Specific turns, regions, races, and everything else have their own score-keeping for just about everything, and all that data is stored in Autolog.

Most Wanted takes its namesake to the next level in this way, making every little part of driving and racing a challenge to beat, and to score with, perhaps to a fault. Criterion’s take on the matter is that now, anyone can set a challenge’s top mark among friends and competitors. This sounds great in theory, but can also have the opposite effect of better racers completely overpowering the competition by taking most, if not all of the challenges. Criterion plans to battle this by having hundreds to thousands of different challenges available around the entire world of Most Wanted, which is even larger than the recreated California of Hot Pursuit. Of course, with the vast number of challenges required to keep people playing, the game will need it.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted will also have a full single-player campaign that has not yet been revealed, plus traditional multiplayer racing. As with most of the series (sans the Shift breakaway franchise), Most Wanted is driven on the street with civilian cars, on everything from alleys to freeways, and with partially destructible environments (light posts, trash bins, etc.). The game looks as graphically stunning as both Hot Pursuit and The Run, but on a larger scale. Most Wanted is scheduled for release on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC on October 30.

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James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.

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