"Solid, But Lacking in Personality"
To start off, Need for Speed: Most Wanted for iOS / Android does not come with most of the notable features that its console counterpart boasts. There’s no online multiplayer, no in-game access to the series’ Autolog network (though there is an Autolog app to make up for that), and –most notably here– no open world to drive around and explore.
Instead, NFS: Most Wanted for mobile devices consists of multiple standalone events spread across the 12-or-so tracks that make up the city of Fairhaven. Split into five types, these events, which range from standard races to checkpoint runs, are plentiful, so those who lack the console version need not feel gipped in terms of content amount.
One thing that NFS: MW does well is the way it handles. The handling, which sits somewhere between sim and arcade handling, feels right for whatever car is being driven, whether it be an SUV or a sports car. Throughout the turns and straightaways of Fairhaven’s roads, the controls never work against you, and it feels very satisfying to cut through curves like butter, while driving into opponents and cop cars (lots and lots of cop cars) with a solid boom.
It’s also nice that the visuals are impressive. Everything in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, from the cars to the roads to the surrounding environments, shines with a graphical quality hardly seen in a mobile racer. An additional visual feat is the inclusion of vehicular damage, with windows cracking and bumpers being torn off after cars get banged around enough. It makes for an impressive show of what mobile games are now capable of pulling off visually, and an intriguing look at what racers, and games in general, will look like in the near future.
Good handling and impressive graphics are, sadly, not enough to overlook the lack of personality found in Need for Speed: Most Wanted. This lack is most apparent in the gameplay where, despite the variety of the events, it soon feels like the same thing (race to the finish line, avoid cops, don’t slow down), just with mild variations. The same can be said of the tracks. While nice and well presented, there’s not much to differentiate one from another, and so the tracks tend to blend into each other, a sad thing considering the quality of the graphics.
It also doesn’t help that Need for Speed: Most Wanted boasts a notable imbalance in terms of event numbers. Of the five different event types, it seems more than half of them fit into the regular "Street Races" and "Hot Race" events. The Hot Race events –where the task is to get to the finish line within a set time while avoiding penalties from hitting objects– are, in particular, another example of something that gets tiresome: the abundance of cops in every single event. They provide a good level of challenge, sure, but after a while, I just want to have the option of enjoying the freedom of the streets without the law trying to slam me into a barrier every quarter-mile.
One more thing, a smaller thing. Every now and then, an event would appear that could only be played by a certain type of car (sport, SUV, etc.), and it was during such occasions that I sometimes found myself without enough cash to buy any of the cars. This meant I had to grind through previous events to gather up the money. Grinding is okay in old-school RPGs, but not in a modern-day racer like Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is far from the perfect racing game and undisputed model that all future mobile racers should follow. However, to decry it completely would be to forget what it does well, from the handling, which lends to an exhilarating experience, to the graphics, which are incredible despite the tracks’ somewhat generic designs. Indeed, the good does outweigh the bad, and if we’re lucky EA will learn from the mistakes made here and craft the masterful portable Need for Speed that Most Wanted tried to be.
GameDynamo's Score for Need for Speed: Most Wanted - A Criterion Game (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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