Need for Speed: Most Wanted U review

by Ben Salter 20 Comments 7 Likes 21,412 Views 22/03/2013 Back to Wii U reviews Need for Speed : Most Wanted U

Need for Speed: Most of U Wanted it last year

Drive fast, look stylish and crash into incompetent policemen. Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is an adrenaline-fuelled feast of developer Criterion Games’ signature traits, as it infuses the best of the highly regarded Burnout series with Need for Speed’s high-flying reputation.

Wii U features and performance

Need for Speed: Most Wanted would have made a great Wii U launch title, but its late arrival comes at a time when Nintendo’s console is in desperate need of games. It’s Criterion’s first game on a Nintendo console since Burnout 2 -- an awesome game that developed many of the conventions that make Most Wanted U (and that’s the last time I’m stupidly writing “U” at the end of its title) the high-octane social racer it is.

Most importantly, or should I say as expectedly, Most Wanted is the same great game we saw on every other platform last year. The core review, below, still stands.

The Wii U version offers a plethora of control options -- the GamePad, Pro Controller, Wii Remote or Wii Remote and Nunchuck including motion control options where applicable -- and they all work. Well, the motion control on the Wii Remote or GamePad is a terribly awkward way to play and I couldn’t figure out how to access the Autolog menu using only the button-deficient Wii Remote, but otherwise take your pick.

Most Wanted looks stunning on a TV screen as arguably the best looking game on Wii U.

To add some spice to the mix, Criterion has added the option to employ a co-driver. While one person uses the GamePad, another can use any of the control methods listed above. Yep, that’s a real thing, and as you would expect, it’s something to be shelved immediately. Two players having control over one car is like giving two three-year-olds one lollipop. Mistake.

Most Wanted looks stunning on a TV screen as arguably the best looking game on Wii U, but loses some of its sleek style when moved off-TV to the GamePad. Playing without a TV has been the Wii U’s best feature to my mind, but it just doesn’t work with Most Wanted. It looks good on the handheld screen -- a little rough around the edges -- but there’s just too much happening for the small screen. Crashing because you genuinely couldn’t see an obstacle before it’s too late becomes commonplace.

The GamePad can also be used as a map, which is a crucial component for any racing driver, but unfortunately that isn’t very useful, either. The map on-screen and that on the Wii U GamePad show the same thing, but from different angles, disorientating even the most adept drivers. You have a split second to glance down at the GamePad or risk smashing into oncoming traffic, and that time is spent figuring out where you are in relation to the on-screen radar.

While there are some nifty new features, I found the Pro Controller with TV screen the best set-up -- exactly how I played on Xbox 360 last year.

Unfortunately Criterion’s definition of Wii U is “noob friendly”. The other changes are all to make the game considerably easier; Nintendo gamers must be incompetent. I understand that kids and families will want to play, but you don’t learn to get back up if nobody ever pushes you down.

The GamePad offers options to switch between day and night and automatically jump to races, repair your car or go to a jackspot -- No, no, no! Exploring Fairhaven in search of these was part of what made the Most Wanted experience so enjoyable. You can still do it, but it’s diminished by offering an easy way out.

Worse is an option to disrupt pursuing cops. What the hell? Evading the rozzers is what Need for Speed is all about. Of course, you can ignore these optional extras, but I don’t like what they imply about Wii U gamers or the future of the industry in general, for that matter.

In good news, Autolog links up across all platforms. In the rare event you’re moving from another platform, your Speed Points continue and you can try and better scores set by friends on other platforms.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted review

In somewhat of a purposeful naming blunder, there is a 2005 game called Need for Speed Most Wanted that teetered on the brink of being in both the current and last generation. Despite being a reboot, Criterion has left its own mark on Most Wanted, whilst paying homage to the game’s recent origins, as it did with Hot Pursuit in 2010. The similarities in terms of gameplay between the two are negligible.

Most Wanted turfs you into the thick of the action with its sleek, simplified presentation. There’s no need to retreat to the refuge of a main menu, or even the pause menu (unless Mum’s yelling at you). Everything from setting a destination, changing car and modifying your ride is handled by the fantastic Easy Drive menu using the D-Pad in-game. Yes, that means you can add nos to your car in the middle of a race, if you foolishly failed to equip it earlier.

Every car, from the Bugatti, to the Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the Porsche 911 is available from the outset.

The vehicular presentation is stunning, with each car doing its real life counterpart proud. Likewise, they handle in surprisingly unique style, for what boils down to a fast-paced arcade racer. They’re matched by a lively and diverse world, and a signature up-beat EA soundtrack, which can be replaced by your own music if you’re hard of hearing or have an affliction towards a quality track list.

Just as it is in the real world, the Bugatti Veyron is the fastest car in the game -- the Most Wanted, if you will -- with an obtainable top speed of 417 KM/h, which has been verified in the real world by Top Gear’s James May, of all people. Upon reaching such breakneck speeds, you’ll immediately slam into an oncoming truck or an unfortunately positioned speed camera, utterly ruining the car.

For all their enviable beauty, the cars of Need for Speed: Most Wanted are disposable. They’ll bounce back, lighter on windows and graffitied in dents, but drivable enough to limp to the nearest repair shop, of which there is an ample supply, to instantly refurbish your ride back to factory mint condition.

Every car, from the Bugatti, to the Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the Porsche 911 is available from the outset. All you need to do is find them, scattered across the picturesque landscape of Fairhaven, and they’ll enter your on-demand garage. Some are parked on perilous rooftops or down small alleyways, but most are hidden in plain sight. You simply need to cruise around the world of motoring mayhem to add them to your collection.

Each is decked out with stock components, which can be enhanced by winning a series of race events. Theses are managed by Easy Drive and comprise of five unique to each vehicle. However, races, which are introduced by an action-packed cinematic to offer a semblance of context, are only the beginning.

The appeal of Autolog is inherent to its social nature. To best enjoy Most Wanted, even as a single-player game, you’ll want your friends on Xbox Live or PSN to compete against your times. Beating the A.I. is almost meaningless if Autolog taunts you with an alert that a friend is better than you. It refines the competitive edge first introduced in Hot Purist by comparing your every move and achievement with those of your friends.

Besting your friends’ times in Autolog will earn you additional Speed Points, the currency for progress, which are acquired by winning races and driving recklessly in general. Accumulating Speed Points will unlock the 12 Most Wanted cars, and by “unlock” I mean have the gracious opportunity to try and beat and then destroy them against the game’s most skilled A.I. racers for the privilege of entering the driver’s seat. Should you be skilled enough, you might even move up the leaderboard.

Whilst Most Wanted’s single-player could be criticised for a lack of content, that would be unfair. It’s a joy to replay a race to ensure you better your friend’s result, which eventually leads to immense frustration when they beat you again with a blitzing time -- “impossible!” you’ll scream.

Unless you’re purposely trying to garner the maximum heat level, and there’s some merit in doing so for a challenging laugh, the cops offer intense chase, but are no match for your speed on the lower heat levels. They’ll eventually deploy spikes and call in the SWAT team, but before that, evasion is a simple nudge into oncoming traffic away -- unless there are more cops around, in which case such tactics will just make them even more displeased with you.

The freedom to explore the diverse open-world of Fairhaven is perfect for some, yet could pose a nightmare for others. On the whole, it’s an effective system that pushes you to explore every inch of the environment, but the lack of a narrative driven approach could confuse some players, especially if you’re looking for events your friends have competed. If you only have one or two friends playing Most Wanted you’re really relying on them having played more than you to be driven to improve, and the motivation can waver if you’re confronted with a series of races not completed by any friends. That’s not a blight on Most Wanted, however, it’s more indicative of your disappointing online friends list.

The Final Verdict

Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is a high-octane delight full of motoring mayhem, a vibrant landscape and the prefect garage for an arcade racer. With a fantastic competitive streak, thanks to the refined Autolog system that compares your every move against your friends, it’s the same great game we saw last year, shifted to Wii U. All of the control options work well, but I prefer the Pro Controller over the GamePad. Unfortunately there are too many added assists to help lesser skilled players -- who apparently play on Wii U -- and they diminish some of what makes Most Wanted most enjoyable, so I suggest all players ignore them and enjoy Fairhaven by car, not menu, as it is meant to be seen.

Need for Speed : Most Wanted U

Got Right
  • + Same great gameplay
  • + Sleek cars, pretty world
  • + Heaps of control options
  • + Autolog pushes you to be competitive
Got Wrong
  • - A little repetitive
  • - Adding ‘U’ to the title is stupid
  • - Too many added assists
Platform: WiiU
Similar to: Sonic All-Star Racing Transformed
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Need for Speed: Most Wanted U review Comments

  • Olly 34243 XP 22/03/2013
    This was the most disappointing NFS yet for me, the series has lost its identity under devs Criterion who only seem to be able to make Burnout.
    It's boring, and the idea of having to drive around to find other cars is just stupid and gone is the customization NFS is known for. I'm not even gonna waste my money on this. In the UK I can get this for £19.99 on PS3, 360 and PC, on Wii U? £44.99!! I think not! Good review though @Ben!
  • barters81 8615 XP 22/03/2013
    The very first NFS games on PC didn't allow car modification. The game was about awesome cars currently on the market at that time. I remember them very well as awesome games. To me car mods are more GranTourismo.

    That said, I'm about to pick the game up so am yet to play. Looking forward to it though.
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  • Olly 34243 XP 22/03/2013
    Well yeah I know I had the very first NFS on PC and Sega Saturn but even that the focus on the cars is gone, what we have now are Burnout arcade racers its awful. I thought NFS had evolved into the customization trend when Underground hit. Black Box were great developers that started to lose their way due to EA pushing them too hard. Anyone who plays this enjoy the unrealistic and terrible cornering along with that rubbish for NFS rampage mode from Burnout.
  • Gryllis 371665 XP 22/03/2013
    I really liked it because it was more like Burnout, but that's just me.
  • chucky110 36928 XP 22/03/2013
    You never played Undercover? Because that was far worse.
  • chucky110 36928 XP 22/03/2013
    I love this game and if the graphics look crisper and cleaner I will get for sure
  • Olly 34243 XP 22/03/2013
    Yeah but that was Black Box under huge strain from EA. They made good games until EA had them pushing out a NFS every xmas. I expected what happened with Undercover.
    Criterion are known for Burnout which is awesome although Paradise not so much but NFS should be NFS and Criterion promised an awesome NFS title and what we got was a NFS mod for Burnout Paradise.
  • Olly 34243 XP 22/03/2013
    Crisper and cleaner graphics? for half the price you can get that and better on PC.
  • 1wiierdguy 9880 XP 22/03/2013
    Yeah we could get it cheaper elsewhere but here's the thing. I WANT it on Wii U. I WANT to support the Wii U. It's not like the other systems are losing 3rd party support or selling poorly. :)
  • barters81 8615 XP 22/03/2013
    First impressions tells me your concern with cornering is warranted. Having trouble. But enjoying the idea and giving it some time to see if I can get better.
  • Olly 34243 XP 23/03/2013
    Well that's all nice and dandy but that doesn't change what I've said. The pricing of titles is ridiculous, you know Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is out in the UK today? guess how much... £49.99! stupid. At least side with the other two consoles with a £39.99 price point. With this being a port I wouldn't touch it until say a £29.99 price was reached. I want to support Nintendo but not be made a fool of at the same time.
  • barters81 8615 XP 23/03/2013 I'm liking the game. One thing that bugs me though, what's the point of having to find new cars when you can just select them in easydrive? I don't get it.

    Looks good, and I drive much better with the camera on the ground than above the car.

    Looooove the sound when I crank it! Best sounding cars in a long time.
  • 1wiierdguy 9880 XP 23/03/2013
    Don't retailers set the price in the UK? Hardly Nintendo's fault. I got MH3U today as well and at $74. This is at the lower end of what new releases sell for here so I can't complain.
  • chucky110 36928 XP 23/03/2013
    If you are getting chased by the cops you can change to help get away from them on the run. But if they are all unlocked from the start driving around just to change is dumb
  • chucky110 36928 XP 23/03/2013
    That's exactly what im thinking of doing as long as the g27 work with it
  • chucky110 36928 XP 23/03/2013
    The RRP is set by the company not the retailers
  • Olly 34243 XP 24/03/2013
    That RRP is set by Nintendo, I was talking to guys in my local GAME and up til just recent the RRP set by Nintendo on Zombi U was £54.99!! Black Ops 2 still is...
    Just what are Nintendo thinking? poor marketing, silly prices plus the gamepad is proving pretty useless in games so far with most with the option working better with the pro controller.
  • chucky110 36928 XP 24/03/2013
    Just been playing the PC version and it the Wii U is as good as this visual wise I will get it for sure
  • metalliguy 54877 XP 25/03/2013
    Olly having a bitch. What else is new.

    Good game and good review [Derp]
  • xXNitroXx 2766 XP 15/04/2013
    No customization to cars in this?? [WTF]
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