So after the long break, I’m still not done reviewing Kinect games and I had some time to check this one out. In case you haven’t heard about the reboot of the Need For Speed franchise, here you go:

To be the Most Wanted, it doesn’t matter if you put the most distance between  you and the law – you only need enough room to escape. Outrun the law and  outsmart your rivals in this high-speed race to become the most skilled, most  ruthless, most wanted wheelman on the road! Need for Speed delivers another  completely fluid, open, street-racing world where you can take on missions,  challenge friends, and compete against rivals with seamless transitions between  single and multiplayer. Choose a vehicle to match your driving style and hit  jumps, blast nitrous, and more in play where the action never stops. Discover  hiding spots and hidden shortcuts and share your inside knowledge, or keep it to  yourself to gain an advantage.

Overview

I’m going to compare this game to Burnout and Need For Speed, only because it is actually Burnout and has nothing to do with the Need For Speed franchise. Even as a Burnout title, it still does not live up to par to for example, Burnout Paradise. I mentioned Need For Speed because even though it has the title, it has nothing to do with the franchise, Hot Pursuit was done so much better. This iteration is basically an open-world car collection game with Burnout crashes. For the ultimate Burnout fans, you will probably like it although Paradise will probably have you coming back for more. For the NFS fans, I believe the series is now over thanks to Criterion and Hot Pursuit was our last hope, although Blackbox (the previous Need For Speed developers) did manage to release their last title, The Run, and I found that game more enjoyable than this one.

The Menu

There really isn’t a menu as it just throws you in the game at the start. Once you do start, by pausing the game you can bring up the menu. It’s pretty much all over the place so I’ll try to organize it. The main menu options consist of Driver Details, Map, Multiplayer, Friends and Settings. As usual, I’ll break each one down, but first, I’ll go into the how it plays first so you can get an idea.

How It Plays

As I mentioned in the overview, this is just a open-world car collection game with Burnout crashes. You drive around collecting cars by finding “Jack Spots”, as well as collecting speed cameras, billboards and security gates. I mention collecting because that’s all it is, although you just drive through them to collect them. Think of Disneyland Adventures in a vehicle. Sure it’s time-consuming, but it’s boring, unless you love these collection type games, this one is probably not for you. Burnout fans may also become bored. The only other thing you get to do in the game is race, but unfortunately there are only 4 different types of races and that becomes repetitive and cumbersome when it’s basically the same types of races using different vehicles in different areas. Surprisingly enough, there is an objective – beat the Most Wanted list. That is your only real objective. You can beat this game in a couple of hours if you don’t want to deal with the cumbersome collecting.

Driver Details

This section basically just keeps track of your progress throughout the game. It’s categorized into several areas which include Single Player Progress and Milestones, Multiplayer Progress and Milestones, Collectible Milestones and License Plate. The license plate option allows you customize your license plate, wow.

Map

The map only keeps track of places you have been, although does help as when you are driving around it notes when you find something. You can search certain things such as Races, Jack Spots, Recommends (which is the Autolog recommendation feature), Speed Cameras and Billboards. Security gates you are on your own to find.

Multiplayer

This is another title requiring the season pass, since I rented I couldn’t play any of the multiplayer. You have a few options to Find Public Game, Create Friends Game, Friends (which just show how you rank with your friends), Edit Speedlists and an Xbox Live Party option.

Friends

This section just shows friend recommendations on who you should race out of your friend’s friend list. I’m not sure why it needed its own section.

Settings

The settings consist of Audio (Music/SoundFX/Soundtrack) and you can adjust the music order to be sequential or shuffle. You can also load your own playlists as well. Display allows for Screen Calibrate and Margin Scale. The Gameplay area allows you to change your units from US Imperial to Metric, toggle Subtitles, view the Controls and access the Kinect Tuner. Account Management allows you to review legal agreements and Additional has the in-game manual and Credits.

Easydrive/Autolog

While driving around, in the top left is your Easydrive/Autolog menu. You can jump around pretty quickly using this so it is a nice feature. The first option, Autolog Recommends, is what Autolog recommends races for you to do whether its in-game or multiplayer. Races allow you find certain races depending on the type. As I mentioned, there are only 4 different types which is ridiculous in my opinion. I will break each one down however.

Circuit Race

This is your normal race laps around a track, albeit the track consists of areas within the fictional city. It’s typically 2-5 laps, I didn’t encounter anything longer than that. It’s fairly straight forward, but this is straight up demolishing racing. The only way you win is if you ram your opponents into objects to make them crash, you will rarely hold a lead for a long time in front of your opponents. Sometimes cops will join in, but if you are used to the Need For Speed cops, that breed doesn’t exist. They are all about ramming you and making you crash. Here’s a video of a circuit race, most of the races are similar so don’t look for too much variety:

Sprint Race

This is your typical start to finish race in a certain distance. Again, it’s easier if you keep ramming your opponents. There’s not enough tuning to the vehicles to give you an advantage. Here’s a video of a sprint race:

Speed Run

This one is kind of annoying, you have to maintain an average speed within a set distance. Being the whole game is based on crashing, as soon as you crash, you typically lose your average. It’s not impossible, just more challenging which isn’t bad, I think the crashing just gets annoying after a while but that’s my opinion. Here’s a video of it:

Ambush

This is the weird cop chase mode. The introduction to them are very strange like I suppose you need to be drugged on something in order to understand it. You basically have to run from the cops and go through a cool-down mode in a certain amount of time. Here’s a video of one of the weird ones:

Customize Car

Now depending on how well you do in the races (basically either 1st or 2nd place only earn you something) you unlock options to customize your vehicles. Now don’t think because there’s customization that things are specific to certain vehicles as they are not. This is more of an arcade aspect in my opinion, depending on the type of race, you will equip certain customizations. They are broken down into the following categories:

Tires
You start off with stock tires on every vehicle. Winning races unlocks Off-Road and Track Tires. You can also unlock Reinflates which automatically reinflate if you run over a spike strip, but they are kind of pointless because even if you lose all of your tires, you can still maintain a steady speed to get you to a garage to repair everything.

Nitrous
Nitrous only has 2 options, Burn which burns nitrous as long as you press the button down and Powershot which is a burst for a short time. I didn’t really see any use for the powershot option so most likely you will always use the burn option. You recharge nitrous by driving in the opposite lane, going fast, etc.

Chassis
The chassis starts out as stock but you can unlock Lightweight and Reinforced. The reinforced allows you to take more damage instead of crashing all the time while lightweight gives you some more speed typically, but less protection.

Body
The body starts out as stock and you can unlock Aero for speed and Impact Protection which basically allows you to become a battering ram.

Transmission
Transmission allows you to unlock long gears or short gears. I never seen any bonus for using long gears so I always stuck with short gears.

Now if you want to paint your car, you can’t. You can change the color but it’s whatever the game decides the color it wants to give you by driving through one of the gas stations. The gas stations also repair any damage to your vehicle although I didn’t see that it mattered how banged up your vehicle is, the only importance of them is to lower your wanted level quicker, but you have to go through one without any cops around.

Another note, when you do have an upgrade unlocked and in use, you’ll notice there’ll be some kind of challenge associated with it such as short gears. The challenge will say something like drive for 300 miles drifting or something (I’m just using an example), and when you achieve this challenge, you unlock the “Pro” version of the upgrade which enhances it a little bit. Unfortunately that’s all there is though to the customization. It’s very generic and is applicable to all vehicles.

Change Car

The change car option allows you to quick jump to a new car that you’ve found already. It’s pretty useful saving time driving around and just putting you right into the vehicle, although after you complete the 5 races for that vehicle, you most likely won’t bother racing with that car again.

Most Wanted Cars

In here you will find the list of the most wanted cars. Your actual objective is to beat #1 obviously, but to do so, you have to earn SP which I’m assuming is Speed Points. You gain SP by winning races. Once you have enough, you can challenge a most wanted rival. That’s why this game can only last for a couple of hours if you just want to burn through it real quick. Once you beat a most wanted rival, you have to do a “takedown” move on them in order to win their car. Basically just ram them and force them to crash or flip and the car is yours.

Multiplayer

Lastly, you can compete online from the Easydrive menu. You can Find a public game, Create a Friends game and list your friends. That’s basically the whole game.

Better With Kinect

This is another Better with Kinect title, but again, I’m not impressed with voice controls, once Kinect starts talking back to me in an AI sense, then I’ll start to be impressed. Sure voice commands are easier to implement with Kinect, but they are really not necessary. This game is another proven fault to that statement. You will find using the controller is much easier than shouting out commands at it. Sure you can say nitrous and off you go, but here’s the proven fact. When you don’t want to use up all of your nitrous and use it sparingly, using your voice doesn’t allow this where as you are forced to use a controller, so again, this one is far from being Better with Kinect.

Summary

Overall, it’s a mediocre game. I guess the good thing is that I realized how great Forza Horizon was compared to this. I have always been a Need For Speed fan (although I am a Forza fan as well) but in my opinion, I always favored the original Most Wanted. I was that guy who had the regular Xbox version of it, bought the 360 and had to have the 360 version of it in order to enjoy it even more. It had a decent storyline (most racing games have none) and it was just done well. The old series also made you feel like you were really trying to escape from the cops, like you were going to lose you car (which you actually could by getting busted too many times in the later ones) so it gave you that feeling of I can’t get caught. It was even additional fun to be a cop and chasing your street racing buddies.

This game is a complete opposite of all of it. It has nothing to do with Need For Speed or Most Wanted. It’s a Burnout playground using the NFS name. I am actually surprised Criterion was ok with this to be honest, unless this was done by our beloved EA again. It’s probably the least fun Burnout game in the series that I have played, but maybe it’s because I like to do more than just collect random things and not play something so repetitive - I am old, not a kid – I need to be entertained differently. If you are the ultimate Burnout fan though, you will probably want to add this one to your collection, I would just wait until they are done with the “highway robbery” price of this game.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?