NEED FOR SPEED™ MOST WANTED ON STEAM

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This isn"t paradise. Most Wanted"s host city of Fairhaven is a gritty, aggressively urban location; industrial parks stretch out into docklands & construction sites, while the city centre is a chaos of scaffolding and concrete. Criterion"s second run at the Need for tốc độ brand may evoke the much-loved Burnout Paradise with its open-world setting, but this is a trò chơi that"s kept grounded by its licences, & one that feels almost po-faced by comparison.

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Pitch it up against Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit và it feels different again. Whereas 2010"s game had its eyes fixed intently on the horizon, Fairhaven"s website of highways, side streets & alleys sees the focus shift away from pure speed, resulting in a trò chơi that"s broader but never quite as thrilling. Most Wanted straddles two of Criterion"s greatest racers, but while Hot Pursuit felt like a delicious collision of two disparate brands, there"s a lot more compromise going on here.

Most Wanted"s never less than entertaining, though. Those first moments spent investigating Fairhaven"s roads are intoxicating. Criterion"s stuffed the đô thị with things to discover: secret gates can be smashed through, billboards invite you lớn leap through them, while the game"s garage sits waiting lớn be discovered at various points across the map.

In the finest tradition of the open-world genre, it"s initially overwhelming. There"s so much to lớn do & so much lớn discover that it"s hard khổng lồ hold on lớn any single thread, instead hyperactively leaping from one vehicle lớn another. Most Wanted"s cars are, by and large, all available from the off, & there"s no early restriction khổng lồ milder rides; within minutes of starting it"s possible khổng lồ have sampled Porsches, vintage Lamborghinis & true exotica such as the Marussia B2.

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There"s a layer of grime khổng lồ everything in Most Wanted. It"s quick to lớn coat cars and it"s spat out all over your screen.

The cars are uniformly great fun to drive, their handling pulled from Criterion"s weighty tradition. Powerslides are delicate negotiations with a mass of steel and rubber, & there"s a thick momentum to lớn the cars that make them feel initially sluggish - that is until you"re comfortable with coaxing their pendulous rear ends out to lớn counter the trademark understeer.

Vita"s Most Wanted

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For the first time in the handheld"s history, we can happily transpose all of our praise and criticism of a home console game to the PlayStation Vita version - which is something of an occasion in itself. Much of the credit must go khổng lồ Criterion, which handled the Vita version of Most Wanted itself. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the studio"s pedigree, it"s done an impeccable job.

The city of Fairhaven"s intact, as are all the cars, billboards, smash gates & speed cameras - và there are even a handful of bespoke events that sit atop those offered in the PS3 & 360 versions. Understandably, it"s taken something of a visual hit, but it"s never enough khổng lồ undermine the incredible achievement or the immense novelty of having a faithful handheld port day and date with its bigger cousin.

Most importantly, the handling and chơi game survive the transition, although there have been some sacrifices. Races take place between fewer cars - some five as opposed to the eight on console - & there"s a noticeable dip in the amount of environmental traffic, which does have a slight impact on the business of getting about town.

The act of taming these cars is made all the more entertaining by their overstated aggressiveness. They"re primitive beasts, snarling và roaring while tyre smoke streams from their bloated wheel arches. You wouldn"t ever want khổng lồ come across Criterion"s take on a Lamborghini Aventador on a cold, lonely night.

And in one of the few throwbacks khổng lồ the 2005 game with which Most Wanted shares its name, cars can be fully modded. When first discovered they"re in a pure, untampered state, but success in races grants you access lớn nitro boosts, tuned gearing and a selection of tyres. There"s even the slight creep of call of Duty here, with different loadouts being better suited lớn different events.

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Selecting mods is done via the d-pad (or, if you"re playing on 360 & so inclined, through an unobtrusive và fairly successful implementation of Kinect voice control) as part of the inventive EasyDrive mode. This is a successor lớn a similar feature in Burnout Paradise that allows for access to lớn in-game options on the fly. Races can be selected, multiplayer can be hopped into and cars swapped around while the road unfurls towards you - a seamlessness that"s only broken when you inevitably meander into the scenery.

It is, being a Criterion production, extremely boisterous too. Races are kinetic affairs that spit out more sparks than a foundry at full tilt as the street furniture is mulched through by angry fenders & tyres. But beneath all this surface sound and fury the combat that"s been a staple of Burnout games - and that was divided so neatly in Hot Pursuit - feels a little muted.

There are a couple of reasons why. The takedown camera that has been Criterion"s tag for so long has been rudely excised, and without the dual purpose of Hot Pursuit"s game of cops & robbers - in Most Wanted, you"re always the robber và never the cop - there"s no neat website of power-ups khổng lồ work through, with the modding options making for a slightly less satisfying substitute.

Fairhaven"s never quite as rich as Paradise, either, or as diverse as Hot Pursuit"s Seacrest County. Offline races are limited khổng lồ only four real types, while events are strictly limited lớn five per car - great if you want khổng lồ explore the limits of Most Wanted"s garage, but frustrating if you find yourself attached khổng lồ any one ride in particular.

There is a single spine that runs through Most Wanted"s solo mode, though. Throughout Fairhaven there are 10 vehicles that can be raced and, if you manage to beat them & then shut them down, unlocked. Each of these Most Wanted events becomes available once a certain threshold is met with the game"s tốc độ Points, a currency that"s dealt out with forceful generosity.

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The police operate across six different heat levels - to cool it down, you"ve got lớn escape a certain radius.

This generosity is felt elsewhere in Most Wanted, especially in its social features. Autolog returns, và once again it"s the fabric that ties the whole trò chơi together - now spread even further out across the thành phố of Fairhaven. Success is no longer measured simply in seconds - in Most Wanted, it"s measured in every speed trap và every billboard that can be driven through, ensuring that every stretch of tarmac holds a meaningful, connected challenge.

Fairhaven, for all of its faults, is a great automotive playground, và it"s at its absolute best when it"s a playground shared. The diversity and eccentricity that"s perhaps lacking in Most Wanted"s single-player races has been siphoned off into a hysterical multiplayer mode that sends a gang of eight racers rampaging across the đô thị in a series of seamless, objective-based events.

Drift through warehouses for as long as possible (or, more likely, until you"re rudely interrupted by another competitor), work together lớn accumulate a mix amount of Near Misses, or simply race from point khổng lồ point. Throughout the course of one of Most Wanted"s tốc độ Lists - a mix of events that, when playing with friends, you can define yourself - every second is an opportunity for more competition.

And that"s ultimately what defines Most Wanted. Its sense of character may be not be as forceful as Criterion"s other games - but the sense of competition that informs it, the joy of discovery và the plain pleasure of driving haven"t been dimmed in the slightest. This isn"t quite paradise, but it comes very close.