Review: Need For Speed: Most Wanted


The Need For Speed series has been running since the PSOne era however EA's racer has had a dramatic change in the last few years with the Underground series. But Need For Speed: Most Wanted decides to go back to its Hot Pursuit roots as you take on the streets with "dope", "fly" and "pimped" cars or "rides" as they are most commonly known in most "crews". Well, that's the Underground lingo out of the way! Let's just hope some of Underground's flaws have been rectified.

Most Wanted takes the best of the last few Need For Speed games. It uses Underground's huge amount of car customisation, Hot Pursuits cop chases and Underground 2's free roaming environments. It may seem like a strange mix, but EA actually manages to pull it off, well for the most part. Most Wanted starts as Underground 2 did. You (an unnamed driver in the game) arrive in a new generic Metropolis looking for another new challenge. You begin with a "pimped out ride", making your way up the ranks. When you finally get to race a rival, he sabotages your car! Nice people huh? Oh well, the only way is up. Most Wanted works on a very simple ranking system, this is called The Black List. As you make your way up the list, more cars and parts are unlocked.

Before you can challenge people on The Black List you must achieve two set criteria's. First of all, milestones must be achieved. These are objectives that must be reached from cop chases or speeding past speed cameras. Milestones can vary from simply bashing into the side of cop cars known as "busting", evading a certain number of police cars or just holding a chase on for as long as possible.

Reaching mile stones also increases your bounty placed on your head. The second need is the standard races. They include: circuit, sprint, drag and two varieties of toll booth racing. Yes that's right 3 modes are missing from the game; drift, street X and (thankfully) those mini tournaments. Obviously the bulk of the gameplay comes from how the cars handle, and to be honest some of them aren't amazing. The first few cars are obviously not going to be the greatest, but it just feels as if EA has slowed the game down to compensate for new graphical effects. Some key cars were removed from the last games such as the Nissan Skyline and my favourite the Mazda MX5 'Miata', meaning the car roster this time concentrates on more American and Italian cars much like the Hot Pursuit series. You'll see a hell of a lot of 911's and a couple of Lambo's here and there.

The game is actually quite story based, although it isn't going to make you scratch your head, Most Wanted has some memorable characters such as Mia (the obligatory hot girl), Razor and my personal favourite the police officers. They all appear several times through out the game in fully fledged live action movies. Although they probably aren't meant to be funny, the cheesy dialogue did make me laugh out loud quite a few times. The only down side to these movies is the fact that there aren't enough of them. Instead the game relies on a few in-game cut scenes where the cars basically just race around.

In terms of graphics, Most Wanted on the GameCube isn't the prettiest due to its disk capacity size. This means some of the games textures are even lower res than its PS2 counter part. There are less sun blooming effects and the game basically skimps on world texturing. Somehow they've made it look worse than Underground 2. EA's sloppy porting means the game doesn't really have the greatest frame rate in the world; however it is constant with the rest of the games on the other platforms including the PC and XBOX360 versions.

The sound is a 'Jeckle and Hyde' case. Sometimes the sound is amazing and very atmospheric where at other times it's just plain awful. The licensed soundtrack has become a joke, unless you love to bathe in a load of hip hop and crap rap and how the artist 'Rock' raps about his useless excuse of a life in "I Am Rock" you are not going to be enjoying this one. Other tracks include needless remixing of previously solid songs and fairly poor heavy metal tunes. The other side of Most Wanted' music is the fantastic cop chase songs. Upon meeting a cop, the music stops dead, zooms in on the police car and then starts one of the many well orchestrated scores. They immerse you in the chase and get your heart pumping relentlessly as you try to evade from the police. Sound effects are also very solid, all the engine grunts and clicks are a bliss to hear and the voice acting used in the game is also good if a little stereotypical.

Most Wanted suffers from a few problems along with the ones mentioned above. There is less customisation, this is probably due to both time constraints during development due to having to re-write a lot of the old Underground engine and because they added more cars. Also, although I said the Cop chases really are very good, it's only half the story. When driving around in free roam mode they will quite randomly find and chase you depending on how much you're wanted. This can be very annoying when you just want to drive to a shop to buy new parts and end up trying to get away from annoyingly relentless police cars. The other weird and damn right un-needed floor is wheel spinning or rather, skidding. EA purposely added skidding from stationary into this years edition so that you can't easily get away from the police when they have you cornered. Although it adds a challenge it also makes it very unfair when you lose and it's simply not your fault.

Overall, Most Wanted is another solid addition to the Need For Speed franchise, even if it does have a few annoying flaws here and there.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Another great Need for Speed game, if you've played and loved the previous 2 games this one is a definite pick up.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability3
  • Visuals3
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Free roam is much better
Fantastic FMV's!
Some fantastic music


Annoying car chases in free roam
Not enough fantastic FMV's!
Some terrible music

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