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Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Wii U) Review

Review for Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Criterion jumped to the forefront of discussion when it claimed the Wii U version of Need For Speed: Most Wanted would be the definitive console experience. The team stated the game would have longer draw distance, better lighting, and a smoother frame-rate than the PS3 and 360 versions. Furthermore, it would feature PC quality textures. Given the limited performance of some Third Party launch day software, this was surprising. Most of the gaming world had settled on the idea that the Wii U was not even up to the level of the ancient Xbox 360. A short time later, the game is here and Cubed3 has taken it for a ride to see if it holds up.

Most Wanted wastes no time in showing and telling exactly what it is. From the first moment of the game, it states directly, "Here's your car, there's the final destination, here's what needs to be done on the way...GO!" A short cut-scene and a couple of minutes later and it is a case of driving, full speed, no stops, soundtrack full blast. It's a refreshing change from the melodramatic, hour long intros of many games today. It's one of the reasons games like Super Mario Galaxy feel so good: the game is never not playing.

Here's what Need For Speed Most Wanted is:

- A fast, loud arcade style racer;
- Fast;
- Loud;
- Fun;
- Full of places to go and things to smash and cars to race.

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Here's what the game isn't:

- A slow simulation racer;
- Slow;
- Boring.

That's as simple as the game can be described! Right from the start it drops players into the free-form sandbox of Fairhaven. It's a realistic looking city, with a downtown area, a wharf district, highways, rail-roads, and more, and it's chock full of ramps to jump from, security gates and billboards to smash through, and races to...race.

Along the way players can "jack" any car found from jack spots throughout the city and race them in special races to earn mods to make the car even faster and 'smashier.' When a car is fast and 'smashy' enough, it is time to start racing and "shutting down" the city's ten most wanted racers, each of whom has a unique car to unlock. Whenever players feel like it, they can jump into online multiplayer, where there are various goals, from competitive speed races to co-operatively jumping over buildings.

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Punctuating each special race is a short introductory cut-scene. These range in style from absolutely psychedelic - featuring scenes bathed in abstract colours - to comical, with cop car pyramids and cop car tornadoes (yes, you read that right). Again, it's the design ideal of the game in cinematic form: loud, fun, fast, and just enough substance to entertain without getting boring.

It's worth noting that some of the high end challenges are frustrating due to rubber band AI and police that disproportionately target the player. Furthermore, crashing an AI opponent only sets them back a couple of seconds, whereas a player crashing may put them out of contention entirely. Not every car is a viable speed demon, so choosing the right car and upgrading it with higher performance mods goes a long way to overcoming such difficulties, rendering difficult races much more manageable. Oh, and look into off-road tires. Trust us.

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Visually, Most Wanted doesn't disappoint. Fairhaven looks good, textures are clean, the draw distance is long, lighting is natural, roads are varied, from flat city streets to long, curvy country highways. All the while the frame-rate maintains almost uniform smoothness, dipping only in rare cases when a large number of cars are crashing into each other in the middle of the screen.

The one major criticism to be leveled at the port is that it runs in 704p, not 1080p. That is likely not the developer's fault though, given how few of the Wii U's games run in 1080p. Due to this, there are some jagged edges on objects, but all-in-all, the resolution is not a deal breaker, and does not detract from how nice the game looks.

Given that, it can easily be said that Criterion delivered on its promises, a fact attested to by the Digital Foundry. When everything is said and done, though, what matters most is not that the Wii U version is better looking than the PS3 or 360 iterations (although it is). What matters is that Most Wanted is great looking, plays brilliantly, and the Wii U version is an excellent edition of a great game; a proper job done by top notch developers.

Screenshot for Need for Speed: Most Wanted on Wii U- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Furious racing in a world designed to be driven over, under, around, and smashed about. Controls are responsive and physics are reliable, though the "swimmy" feel of the cars may not be to everyone's liking. Numerous optional in-game tasks keep the action refreshing are included, as well as multiplayer. GamePad implementation is useful without being intrusive, allowing the player to do such things as turn day to night, or vice versa.

Graphics

Visually rich, convincingly realistic, detailed, and well done. Cars, uniformly, look fantastic. Textures are varied and of good quality, making for a very nice looking game. A few issues do stand out, though. Some low poly art assets in the world maybe stand out, as with some trees. A couple of lens flare effects are problematic. Jaggies are also something of an issue.

Sound

One of the best features of the game is its pulse pounding soundtrack. Over 40 songs from many different bands, like Deadmau5, The Who, Dead Sara, and more. It's easy to find yourself just driving around enjoying the music. Sound effects are also good; engines roaring, glass smashing, cars crashing. Voice overs are well done as well, both in quality of acting and of recording.

Value

There is a lot of gameplay here. How compelling some of it is depends on how much someone likes free-form exploration, driving around a city and finding billboards to smash, security gates to crash, speed cameras to race past. There are numerous cars to find and race, five special races per car to acquire mods, and ten 'Most Wanted' races. An excellent multiplayer mode also adds a lot of value. If a storyline is needed and lots of voice acted cut-scenes, this is not the game for you. If what you want is smashing race car fun, however, then Most Wanted delivers.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the multiplatform title that Wii U owners deserve: one that has been given time and dedication by a developer with excellent technical skills, which shows the Wii U is more than just a late entry into last generation hardware. Better yet, it's a genuinely good game with enough content to last a long while. Any racing game fan is going to feel at home behind the wheel of Most Wanted.

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29.03.2013

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Developer

Criterion

Publisher

EA

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Rudy, Jorge - you guys have played this as well, right? What are your thoughts?

I've played some of the PS3 version last year and got so side-tracked in the multiplayer 'destruction derby' mode - it was great fun zooming around, smashing into others! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It is one excellent package, put together really well - runs smooth, looks great and handles really well. Love, love the GamePad shortcuts for distracting cops and tweaking the weather, it just makes things a little bit more immersive when on the road. It really shows Criterion actually gives a damn about this release and the additional development time has really benefited the release I feel.

Motion controls are a bit tricky, fortunately optional though with a proper wheel would probably pretty accurate. Online multiplayer is bizzare, haven't gotten into it yet but barely any lag.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

At first I hated it. The cars are hard to control & the menu system is a bit odd. But after a couple of hours of play I was addicted. The visuals are beautiful & the gameplay is frantic. I even enjoy the online play which is unusual for me.
I don't usually find online play appealing. Mainly because its usually populated by idiots. 

I'm not sure I agree with the review saying its aimless. Like any racer you can select the next event from the menu and race. It just so happens to be set in an open world where you can find other challenges (often set by friends) and secrets. 

Speaking of secrets.. I got told off in Miiverse for talking about a secret place. Not that I actually said much about it or revealed its location or anything. Fascists! Haha. 


RudyC3 (offline, on WiiU) (guest) 30.03.2013 14:57#4

@Adam: Haven't even booted it yet, Should finally be able to sit down and play it a bit tonight.

Staff Member

Never said it was aimless. The great thing about open world games is that you can determine much of the pace of the game. You can choose to ignore the races completely and explore as you will, wandering around and finding all the interesting parts of the world, playing multiplayer, and setting records and topping the scores of your friends. Alternatively you can find the best cars, get its best mods, and set your sights on taking down all the Most Wanted, one after the other. That's a good thing, in my opinion!

Never played with motion controls. I forgot that was even an option.

( Edited 30.03.2013 20:57 by jres80 )

jres80 said:
Never said it was aimless. The great thing about open world games is that you can determine much of the pace of the game. You can choose to ignore the races completely and explore as you will, wandering around and finding all the interesting parts of the world, playing multiplayer, and setting records and topping the scores of your friends. Alternatively you can find the best cars, get its best mods, and set your sights on taking down all the Most Wanted, one after the other. That's a good thing, in my opinion!

Never played with motion controls. I forgot that was even an option.

Sorry. Don't know where I got that from. I've read more than one review about it today & I'm obviously getting myself confused. :-/ 

Read it again & agree with everything you said! Apart from the bit about the space ships and the unicorns.  

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Smilie But that was my favourite bit!! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Played it a bit tonight. Doesn't hold a candle to Burnout Paradise. I preferred the more arcadey controls of Burnout, as well as the soundtrack which was more in line with my personal taste... and finally the fact that the city seemed to be far busier in the older game in my humble opinion... it felt more natural and had a level layout that was far more interesting. Need For Speed has very few intersections and feels like corridors most of the time (not really how I expect a big city to look like) and doesn't even let you choose to go to the finish line whichever way you want.

But still an excellent game I don't regret purchasing... I guess it's the closest thing we'll ever get to a Burnout Paradise on Wii U so I'm still quite happy Smilie. I guess I just can't forget the mind blowing experience that BP was for me.

( Edited 30.03.2013 23:00 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Staff Member

I've heard some complaints from Burnout Paradise fans. Usually they say the city is too small. Never played Burnout Paradise, myself. All I can say from watching videos of it is that everything I've seen of Paradise looks like stuff in Most Wanted, and that after 12+ hours of playing I've still not memorized the entire map. I see that BP is on Steam though, so I'll have to pick it up during the next Steam sale =p

Most Wanted starts off in the downtown area, which is a grid based design: square blocks and straight roads. That's definitely true to a large American city. Most of New York is very strict grid design. There's a lot more to see in Most Wanted, though: construction sites, the docks, highways.

As for the physics of the cars, a lot depends on the car you choose and the mods you apply. The "control" stat affects how much your car sways during a turn, how fast it responds to input. The Ariel Atom V8 is a real nice, responsive, early game car that doesn't sway much. It was my first favorite car. Its main failing is that it's very lightweight and crashes easily.

From the Atom I switched to several others cars, trying to find a good balance of acceleration, speed, durability, and control. Eventually I settled on the McLaren F1 LM. Great car. It's just a hair slower than the Lamborghini, but it's much tougher.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I didn't see much of the grid based design you mention in Most Wanted whereas its prominent in BP, at least in the city area, because BP also has more than half its open world set outside the big city. My complaint is that roads tend to be too long without and branches or stuff outside of them for you to explore when compared to BP. Like in Most Wanted there seem to be more billboards to destroy but you can usually find like 5 or 6 grouped close to each other, whereas you really had to look for them in BP (most of them where in plain sight, but more wide spread across the map and put in all sorts of difficult to reach locations)

But like I said, I still LOVE Most Wanted for what it offers. It's easily my second favourite racing game in recent years... just behind BP Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Staff Member

Like I said, I haven't played BP to compare, however there are some tricky billboard locations. Keep looking! =)

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I've yet to play BP, but played the previous Burnouts - definitely see this one's a criterion game. Would perhaps prefer a more Burnout styled way of racing, but really enjoying the sheer speed and zipping about the city!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Now that I've found all that was to be found around the city (although it seems some pick up spots need to be unlocked some other way before I can find them), and now that all I have left to do is racing... and I'm finding myself mostly incapable of winning any race due to the controls, I don't like the game as much as I did initially :/... I struggle even on the first Most Wanted race or the easiest of races appear like tough challenges to me.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Staff Member

The first Most Wanted race (10), the Venom, is actually the toughest Most Wanted race. It's the DLC Most Wanted. Try one of the others.

Also, the car and the mods make all the difference. That race is near impossible in something like an Atom V8. With a McLaren it's much easier.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I tried the Venom with the Maclaren F1 LM... I could see the car at he beginning, zooming away... never to be seen again for the entire race.

I could beat the first most wanted car... just barely, but didn't win it because I couldn't stop it... Never had such problems in Burnout Paradise, I even was close to getting my Paradise License last time I played...

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Staff Member

RudyC3 said:
I tried the Venom with the Maclaren F1 LM... I could see the car at he beginning, zooming away... never to be seen again for the entire race.

I could beat the first most wanted car... just barely, but didn't win it because I couldn't stop it... Never had such problems in Burnout Paradise, I even was close to getting my Paradise License last time I played...

You also have to mod your car. Each car has 5 races that award 10 different mods which will upgrade your acceleration, top speed, control, toughness, and offroad handling. I find acceleration to be more useful than top speed, and off road handling to be very useful.

I've found all the Most wanted races really easy. Not that I'm bragging. :-P

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm up to the Most Wanted nr 5 now. I'm making very slow progress. I tried the online mode for the first time tonight and thought it was a mess... I expected to be able to choose what type of game I want to play (I mostly wanted to race) but I was thrown into random stuff all the time.

Plus, no one seems to be using the mic to talk, or those who do don't bother to listen to other players talking to them, which I found lame. Not to mention the audio I received from other players was piss poor in quality, I could barely understand anything, but maybe that's a case of them not setting the mic sensitivity level high enough, which caused drop outs.

Anyway, I reached 52% of progression now.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Does anyone know what the file size of the game is? Thinking about downloading it! Smilie

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