There are plenty of things to keep you on your toes in Criterion's Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Regardless if you're a regular on the race tracks or are an expert at keeping the police at bay in Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto games, there's sure to be something to keep you busy in Fairhaven.
Choose Your Pavement
In solo mode, your main goal is to be ranked among the ten most wanted in the city. This then opens you up as a target for challenges as you rush to the top of the street race chain. This is done by winning against lower-ranked competitors, completing challenge missions and basically being a bad ass. You need to master slipstreaming, drifting and carjacking, to name a few. You also have to evade a seemingly infinite number of relentless cops, leaving destruction in your wake like a speed demon.
Want to get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Bugatti Veyron or a Marussia B2? To aid you in your quest to become number one is an array of sweet rides. In keeping with the game's sandbox design, there's no need to rack up a dizzying number of trivial points. These are all unlocked from the off. Thing is, you will need to scour the streets to find them. There are a number of Jacking Points spread throughout the city of Fairhaven and once you've successfully located the one you want, all you'll need to do is to jump in and drive off into the sunset -- until your next race, at least.
Getting Under the Hood
While the cars are great in general, they are equipped with stock parts the moment you find them. This means no nitrous to give you a boost as well as a set of basic tires and chassis. Handling depends on the vehicle type too so if you're left wanting for some tweaks to your ride then joining races is your ticket to a fully modded racing beast.
Every car has a set of races associated with it ranging from easy difficulty to hard. If you get first or second place, you not only get Speed Points but also a number of nifty car upgrades such as different types of tires and nitrous. If you've set your sights on becoming the best street racer around, then you will need to swap these mods around per race to adapt to the situation.
There are no menus or lobbies to wade through before beginning a race. Switching to a new set of wheels, setting up routes and cycling through mods is easy enough thanks to the game's slew of smart shortcuts. If you want to go social, you can challenge your friends instantly in various multiplayer events. This allows you to roam free in a private version of the vast city to see who can perform the longest drift or jump the farthest off a roof of a building. A mini race links these events, allowing you to compete even before the actual race starts as you make a mad dash to the starting point to see who gets there first. If multiplayer isn't for you, you can still participate in the fun. Master the art of stunt jumps and you can have your avatar featured in one of the game's gigantic billboards. On the other hand, if a bitter rival beats you to it, then it'll be oh-so-satisfying to crash through his face.
As a notorious street racer, part of the fun is going to be evading those pesky boys in blue. Ambush events, in particular, pit you against the cops as you attempt to lose them within a set time limit. Doing so successfully will reward you with mods and Speed Points. Having trouble with heavy traffic? You don't always have to blast past cars. As it is with GTA, all you need to do is disappear and hide for a while until your trail runs cold.
Keep the Engine Running
With endless races and over-the-top destruction right at your fingertips, Need for Speed: Most Wanted undoubtedly provides a unique experience. Its sandbox-style approach to arcade-style racers may end up feeling aimless to some, but this is all about defying expectations. It allows you to abandon that racing line, switch from solo mode to a multiplayer event in a heartbeat and feel the rush uninterrupted. It's a title fit even for those who are not fans of the genre and is an experience not to be missed.