Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Need for Speed Most Wanted

Welcome to Need for Speed, the Vita game that could.
  • That could pack in practically the whole console experience in to a portable. 
  • That could tie into beyond-PSN services with AutoLog. 
  • That could deliver on the promise of next-gen portable gaming. 
I've been playing Most Wanted for a few weeks since it came out on-and-off, which is both a highlight and weakness of the game. It is very easy to pick up and play, but there's little persistent reason to go rushing back to rev it up, especially with lots of other titles demanding my time.

Visually, it excels, with just some bits of furniture removed to keep the speed up. There are some odd choices though in places, tall fences vanish just yards ahead of you, which is quite distracting - they'd have been ideal for removal. Many road signs are too small to read, or vanish off the top off the screen before they are readable, these could have been moved, or removed, but that's small change.

The gameplay itself is remarkably relaxed, there is no pressing need to rush to the next race or event, while in multiplayer (which I found a little bit jerky from time to time) you can spend more time meeting up and getting to a start location than in actual events. As you head from A to B, there are plenty of things to be doing, smashing billboards, breaking speed cameras, finding new cars and exploring the wide and varied map of Fairhaven.

There are police chases to liven things up, but despite their fine scripting and construction, they're really more of an annoyance than anything. Autolog can help guide you to the next event, or find challenges to help you earn points. When you are on the clock, in a race or challenge, its pedal to the metal and you find the small screen and controls are probably a little less friendly than an Xbox on a 44" screen (I haven't played any other version). Staying focused is essential to racking up the wins and points.

Other cars have oversize light blooms, so you can see them coming a bit better, but any loss of concentration, looking at the map or watching another competitor too long can easily see you wreck-out in spectacular style. It only loses a few seconds, but seems to happen more than I remember in other games.

With plenty of challenges, and bigger, better cars to win, I will keep coming back to Need for Speed to find them all, but it feels a lot less of a game than almost anything else I'm playing. The kicker for this review is that I played the demo of Forza Horizon, which does the same thing, but with its veil of a plot really grabbed me.

Need for Speed is technically excellent, with fast transitions between cars, a world designed with love and packed with detail, if only it had a little more soul, I'd love it down to the wheel nuts, but for now I'm just impressed by the achievement it represents.

Price: £34.99 (PSN)
Score: 8/10
Progress: Been around the block a few times
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