Alright then, I have less than 24 hours until I’m back within city limits so I’m going to wait it out and talk about one of the two new games I got from
my mother Santa this holiday season.
Let’s just start out by saying that I used to live on Burnout 3 Takedown, Criterion Games’ glorious magnum opus that was straight balls-to-the-wall action and one of my favorite racers of all-time. So, after seeing what Criterion have done with the Need For Speed franchise in the form of the Hot Pursuit remake, I was ready to invest numerous hours that should be reserved for sleep, nourishment and
sex reading in the latest installment for NFS, Most Wanted.
Didn’t that come out in 2005? Yes it did. I remember playing that as well during my adolescence and while I never played Underground or Underground 2 (oooooh hate me if you must), the original Most Wanted was still very enjoyable and one of my personal favorites in the series. So, has Criterion pulled a Frankenstein and got the monster to breathe again?
AND THE ANSWER IS: I ‘unno, I guess, sort of.
You see, Burnout and Need For Speed originally had very different levels of pace. NFS was a lot more controlled with its racing and if you cocked up, it was usually your fault. In Burnout, shit was thrown at you like it was being shot out of a fucking repeater cannon. I had to tape my damn eyes open in order to give the amount of focus the game required and when that wasn’t enough I had to muster up the sheer willpower to activate my hidden powers of foresight in order to figure out when to turn or where traffic would be because there was no other fucking way to tell.
Hot Pursuit had a great balance between the two. Great sense of speed, the game world felt varied, the cars were numerous and handled well, and more importantly KEPT THE TRAFFIC TO A FUCKING MINIMUM! But now in Most Wanted you’re in a large urban city and fucking hell do the developers want you to know that, what with every race opening up with a surreal vignette, some with cars multiplying, rings of police cars, cars falling from the sky, and all manner of camera angles showcasing the city that Criterion has built from the ground up.
So now that you’re in a city, there’s tons of hairpin turns and numerous pedestrian cars out in the streets and I swear to fucking Hell EVERY corner of the city is out to ruin your day. I can’t take my eyes off the screen for a second otherwise some new asshole in a Prius is conjured from the fucking netherrealm right in front of me, but I HAVE to look at the map in order to figure out where I’m going because you have nothing to go by besides the checkpoints and even those can pull a fast one on you when they feel like being pricks, which is all the time.
The even bigger pricks are the ones who organized the police chases. I’m not against the cop part of Need for Speed, because they’ve always worked fine in the original Most Wanted and even Hot Pursuit, but that’s only because you had ways to fight back! Most Wanted had you flattening cruisers with giant donuts and Hot Pursuit is the closest thing to a realistic Mario Kart. But in this game, the only option is to drive faster and pray to whatever six-armed deities you know the names of. If this game were a person, this would be the conversation during a police chase.
Mr MoonGoat: Hey game, I’m being chased by the police because I drove too close to them while giving them the finger. What do I do?
NFS: Drive faster.
Mr MoonGoat: Okay I’m driving faster and they’re still behind me. What now?
NFS: Drive into the city. Make some turns.
Mr MoonGoat: Okay I’ve done that. Now I’ve broken their line of sight. Now what do I do?
NFS: Drive faster.
Mr MoonGoat: Why can’t I just hide somewhere.
NFS: No. There’s nowhere to hide. Drive faster.
Mr MoonGoat: Hey I’ve changed my car and I’ve even gone through a shop to change my car’s color. Shouldn’t the chase be over?
NFS: No, keep driving.
Mr MoonGoat: But every time I keep going, you make a cop car appear right in front of me to continue the pursuit.
Mr MoonGoat: Well why can’t you give me some ways to take them out? Like, a weapon system or something else besides running into them?
Mr MoonGoat: Well this is just getting monotonous and boring. And I’ve crashed 14 times since this chase started, and I don’t want to have to race every time I want to unlock nitrous for my new cars, and I don’t know why I’m locked in this weird timeloop where I download your multiplayer update and it doesn’t go through so it asks me the same fucking question every time I start up the game and why are your eyes melting and why is your back arching in that horrible way?
I don’t know what to do, there’s so many weird design choices that Criterion put in this game that I just feel like they missed the mark. The big thing that keeps me playing this game though is that when this game kicks ass, it seriously kicks ass. So much ass. It’s that crazy Burnout Evil Kneivel feeling where you’re the fastest thing alive and you just don’t give a fuck about anything else besides reaching that finish line first. And it’s comforting to see them maintain the essence of their previous masterpieces.
So, Need For Speed Most Wanted gets a tentative recommendation. It’s a game that requires your full attention and your patience as well. If you loved Burnout like I did, you can still have fun with this one.
There’s an electric hotrod in this game. If it’s at night and I have a motor that doesn’t make a sound and a black paint job, HOW THE FUCK DO THE COPS STILL SEE ME!?
That’s one down, another to go? Can you guess what it is? Of course you can.