Need for Speed: Most Wanted U Review
I am not a gear head, so I don’t share the same enthusiasm like many when it comes to car racing games. Games like Need for Speed, Burnout and Gran Turismo are not my cup of tea. In fact, looking at my entire gaming collection spanning from the Nintendo 64 to the Wii U, not one game belongs to the genre – funny enough- the closest thing to a racing sims (car racers) in my library is Grand theft Auto and Mario Kart. So why now? Well, Criterion’s reputation precedes itself and claims that the Wii U has the definitive version got me interested in Need for Speed Most Wanted U. Now that I have spent substantial time behind the wheel in Need for Speed: Most Wanted U – I left the car seat pleasantly surprised.
You are thrown into the colossal play set known as Fairhaven City, which largely resembles the lively world of Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto. Fairhaven City largely serves as a beautiful backdrop for streets races providing some exhilarating circuit for the races itself. You will be racing through the tight streets of suburbia, speed through long highways and traveling the country way of Fairhaven City.
Not known to me before playing Need for Speed: Most Wanted U but Fairhaven city is indeed a sandbox –a fully explorable world that opens players to complete freedom. The unstructured nature of Need for Speed Most wanted U was a pleasant surprise when I played the game. I enjoyed the openness of the game, as someone new to the genre it allowed me to learn the kinks of Need for Speed: Most Wanted U at a comfortable pace. I took the time to get accustomed to the controls and handling of cars as well as practicing devilish turns. Exploration is also necessary if you want to collect all the driveable cars as they can only be unlocked by discovering them parked in Fairhaven city and in Most Wanted Races. Criterion does an admirable job to convince players – to explore the sandbox which otherwise would be useless.
From a visual standpoint, Most Wanted U looks fabulous. Heavily debated in forums, Most Wanted U, is often considered the best console version. Well, I don’t have the PS3/360 versions as a point of comparison. But as a standalone game, Most Wanted U is impressive in the visual, but not something I would write home to as it still looks like a game from the HD twins.
Despite being open world, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is cleverly streamlined. You are not required to travel massive distances to get to your next race or other tedious chores commonly seen in sandbox games (looking at you GTAIV). Everything you need is accessed through a menu called “Easy Race”. Through here, you can set up races, customize vehicles, change cars and so forth. The beauty of “Easy Race” is that you can start a race at a whim, without the need to go through a cumbersome method. With “Easy race”, Criterion obtains a perfect pace with Need for Speed: Most Wanted U.
Speaking of controls, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U handles exceptionally well. I don’t have a wealth of experience in the genre to compare the control of Need for Speed Most wanted U against other car racers, but I did find the handling adequate. More important, is that the control never impeded the fun of racing which is good to note. If you like to know more, the acceleration and Reverse are allocated to the buttons, with the breaks and NOX activation set to the Y and B buttons respectively. Since neither, the gamepad or the Wii U Pro controller feature analogue triggers controlling the speed is a tad trickier, but still manageable.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is unusually addictive thanks to the quasi rpg elements implemented into the core of the single player game. Progress is measured by the amount of speed points you have earned in the streets. Essentially the goal is to gain the reputation of “Most Wanted” by earning speed points from a variety of objectives. As you accumulate Speed Points you will be able to challenge a most wanted drive, as such beating them moves you higher up in the ranks racers. It may sound simple, but I enjoyed the premise, it gave purpose to all the street racing and car crashes.
Like I mentioned above, Speed Points can be earnt through a variety of methods. Points can be earnt by exceeding the limits when approaching speed camera’s, crashing through particular obstacles, trashing an opponent’s car and evading cops pursuit. But the most efficient method of earning speed points is emerging victorious in major races and time trials. Need for Speed Most Wanted U rewards players for skill and perseverance perhaps maybe this is why the game is so incredibly fun. Unless you are some sort of racing demon, it is likely you will not the major events during your first or even the 7th attempt, even the easy level events requires a good amount of skill to cross the line in 1st place, but practice make perfect and in, no time you will be winning races left and right. Normally, I get frustrated when I am forced to repeat mission, but in this case it was unusual. I found improving my times and placing – strangely addicting. I simply can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps it was the challenge. Perhaps it was the reward of earning the speed points or the extra part for my car! Or maybe it was simply the adrenaline rush going through my head playing the game. Whatever it is, it makes Need for Speed Incredibly fun.
Well this is a racer, so don’t expect a great deal of variety in Need For Speed Most Wanted U. For the greater part of the game, you will be participating in Circuit Races, Sprint Races, Time trials, pursuit evading and the main course Most Wanted challenges. Need for Speed Most: Wanted Wanted U does feature an online mode; however I was not able to get a public match. Which is most likely due to a lack of players on the Wii U. Not the fault of the game but it was disappointing that in the Wii U version of Need for Speed – online play is completely non-existent.
For most mii-gamers, I think you will be most interested in what the Wii U unique capabilities adds to the Need for Speed experience. For starters, like 80% of all Wii U games, off-screen play is available on the gamepad screen. Trust me when I say this, the game looks absolutely gorgeous on the gamepad partly the fault of the smaller screen. To be more inclusive to casual players, Criterion has added co-driver mode which uses the gamepad exclusively. Whilst, you play on the pro controller – a familiar like a wife, girlfriend, and a younger sister can hop on to the gamepad and assist you during races by turning off traffic, disrupting pursuing and changing the time of the day. While it does sound interesting, it adds little to no value to the overarching experience. Worst of all, co-driver isn’t engaging to the second player at all.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is a superb game; one that is thoroughly addictive and superbly crafted. As it currently stand, Most Wanted U is the best racing game on the Wii U and an outright amazing game, not to the credit of the console, but to the talent of the developer, Criterion.