Looking out for number one — Need for Speed Most Wanted E3 Preview

Criterion is the most well-known developer for the Need for Speed series, and one of their best selling of the series are the Hot Pursuit titles. Being able to race around as a cop and chase other cars was a unique gameplay feature. Now Criterion is going to be coming out with a new Need for Speed game, but it’s not going to be another Hot Pursuit. Instead, they will be working on the next Most Wanted game, and I got a chance to check it out.

The previous Hot Pursuit game introduced us to the Autolog. In most wanted, Criterion will be introducing us to the the second generation of the Autolog. Here you’ll be able to see how your friends have been doing on the courses. You’ll be able to find out what cars they have been using as well as what kind of time they are getting. Everything you do in the game will give you experience and make you level up and your Autolog will show that. The more experience you have, the higher you’ll be on your Friends List. The person on the top of the list will be your Most Wanted.

[singlepic id=8168 w=320 h=240 float=left]When you first start Most Wanted, you’ll find that you are in an open world driving game. In fact, the only place that you won’t see any cars is on the Map List. Because of the fact that you are going to be personified by the car you are driving, the developers wanted to make sure that your car looked really good. For example, on the Porsche you can see the dynamic spoilers in the back. While the cars look very pretty at the start of the race, they wanted to make sure they look just as good beat up. As you crash into objects, and other cars, you’ll definitely see the damage done by your errant driving.

Exploration is rewarded through the game.  Billboards with other developer names on them are all around the map, which you can then crash through and replace with the Criterion logo. You will also find hidden shortcuts behind fences and cones, spots where you can gain big year, drift around curves, or game booths by going against the flow of traffic. Some hidden areas on the map have super cars that you can get for your garage. You’ll definitely need to drive through a lot of back alleys to find some of these cars though.

During the multiplayer session, you see all your friends on the map. However you don’t find yourself just lined up waiting for race to start. Instead, the game will choose a specific meeting place for you to go for your next release objective. You gain points for getting to the meeting place, but you don’t just sit and wait for them to get there. Instead, you can try to crash other cars. You can actually gain points for your team or yourself by crashing other cars, which will give you extra points you during the multiplayer race. This section is what the developers like to call Dancing with the Cars.

[singlepic id=8166 w=320 h=240 float=right]During the multiplayer session that I had, there were several different modes that I got to try. The first was your typical single player race, where everyone tried to race against each other to try to get the fastest time. However, you didn’t have a set path. All you needed to do was reach the checkpoints in order. The next gameplay type, there was a giant hill that could be used like a ramp. The object of this race was to get the fastest time growing up the ramp and over the highway slightly above it, living out your boyhood dreams of driving the General Lee. If you got taken down by another car, then you couldn’t try to drive up the ramp again and increase your MPH over the road. There was some strategy in this as well where one person tried to hide while the rest of us tried to take down each other. Unfortunately for him, once the rest of us had been taken down, all seven of us went after him. Needless to say, he didn’t survive much longer. We also had a team race, where we were put on a team and tried to reach the finish line fastest while taking down the cars from the other team.  The variety of the multiplayer should ensure that it doesn’t get old.

You might be saying to yourself that this sounds a lot like Burnout Paradise, and you wouldn’t be incorrect. However, I found the game to have the right amount of arcade handling to make the game fun without feeling too easy. You’re not going to find any story in Most Wanted, but with the focus on playing with your friends a story would probably drag it down. Quite frankly, I was impressed with how Most Wanted played, and I’m really looking forward to the release of this when it comes out this November.

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