Need for Speed: Most Wanted - Is it Going Through an Identity Crisis?
The original Need for Speed: Most Wanted was a unique game. It was a blend of the free roaming established by the earlier NFS Underground 2 while adding the chaotic frenzy of an entire police force constantly hounding you. Add in the story behind it all, which actually held up considering the genre, and NFS: Most Wanted was a wonderful entry in the Need for Speed franchise.
Seven years later, and the Need for Speed franchise has undergone a split in the face of all its amazing competition. There's the more realistic Shift franchise, focused on competing with the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza. Then there's the more arcade-styled games, which focuses more on the thrill of racing and less on the minutiae that comes along with tuning every little aspect of your ride.
In 2010, Criterion Games worked in conjunction with EA to breathe a new life into the arcade branch of the Need for Speed franchise in the form of Hot Pursuit, and the game worked well. It was reminiscent of the original Hot Pursuit, while still feeling like a unique title, but the addition of Burnout elements couldn't be denied. Now with Need for Speed: Most Wanted on the way, the series appears to be suffering from an identity crisis.
From what's been seen so far, the barebones elements of a Need for Speed game are all present. Plenty of roads to race on and exotic cars to choose from. However, the series has evolved into much more than a barebones racing experience, and from all available footage, NFS: Most Wanted could easily be retitled Burnout: Paradise 2. The trailers flaunt the various challenges available and the absolute mayhem you can wreak on your fellow racers during a race. In fact, taking out other cars seems to be a center piece in this upcoming game. While there's nothing wrong with the concept itself, it's not a native Need for Speed element. These games are about overtaking your opponent, not running them off the road and watching their car be shredded into pieces.
The formula worked for Hot Pursuit because of the desperation behind constantly being chased down by the cops. However, here it just seems like a retitling experiment. Important elements like car customization or realistic racing mechanics, which are absent from the Burnout series for good reason, are a must for a Need for Speed game. Lack of car customization will only hinder the experience, and, beyond that, lack of in-depth customization will dissatisfy fans of the franchise.
In short, NFS: Most Wanted seems to be suffering an identity crisis, and unless there is some truly distinguishing quality which differentiates this entry from the Burnout series, fans may find themselves disappointed come October 30th.
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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