Need For Speed: Most Wanted 2012 (henceforth referred to as NFS 2012) is one of developer Criterion Games’ most ambitious games. The studio is best known for its work with the amazing Burnout series and has brought all the things you loved about burnout to the Need For Speed franchise. Has Criterion created the perfect racer or is it just eating the dirt other racers are kicking up at it?
NFS 2012 is a re-imagining of the original NFS Most Wanted that released in 2005. While the core parts to the game remain the same there have been a few changes. For one, there is no longer a story.
As an unnamed racer you must make your way to the top of the most wanted list which was called the blacklist in the original 2005 version, to become the most wanted driver in all of the city of Fairhaven. To do this you will be competing in all types of races to gain SP or Speed Points. Earning these Speed Points will unlock more and more Most Wanted races for you to conquer.
Another thing that has been changed in Criterion’s re-imagining is that you can no longer play as the police chasing down the racers. This is one of the few things I didn’t like about this latest NFS.
I have fond memories of chasing down Lamborghini’s and smashing them into walls in that black and white Fairhaven PD cruiser, it was one of my favorite things to do in the original Most Wanted. Not having it is a bit of a let down but NFS 2012 makes up for it in other areas.
NFS 2012 combines the best of the Need For Speed world with the best of the Burnout world. Starting a race is as easy as pulling up your Easy Drive menu and selecting a race. This will either give you directions on how to get there or drop you right in the race if that’s more your style.
Once you’ve gotten past the really trippy intro to the race its time to get started. The most important thing to know about while racing is Takedowns. Takedowns have been in the Burnout series for a while now and they are making their way into NFS 2012.
Basically if you run another racer into a wall, car or anything else that’s going to stop them, its a Takedown. There are also other types of Takedowns for stopping racers in other ways like head-on collisions or T-boning someone. Takedowns earn you SP every time which in turn gets you just a little bit closer to becoming the most wanted.
Since Fairhaven is one big open world its only fair you have a nice selection of cars to choose from. Luckly from the start of NFS 2012 every car in the game is available to use (except DLC obviously). All you gotta do is find it while driving around the city and its yours. Each car has its own specific set of races that will add mods like off-road tires or turbo to the car for winning in first or second place.
That brings me to my only other problem with this Need For Speed title. You can’t customize your car very much. You can go through a gas station to change your car’s color which helps you lose the cops but you don’t get to pick the color of any car.
You also don’t get to add the decals or anything style wise. Your only choices when it comes to modifying cars is what level of tire, boost or frame you want and that is dependent on if you won a race to gain that specific part for that specific car.
That is the normal for Burnout but most Need For Speed games usually have a very detailed set of customization options from rim size all the way up to window tint color.
I used to spend hours making amazing looking cars on most Need For Speed games and while this wasn’t a feature in the original Most Wanted, I had hoped it would be added even if only in a minor way.
Graphically NFS 2012 looks great. NFS 2012 is running on a modified version of Criterion’s Chameleon game engine. Fairhaven is a city full of lights and color.
Light shining off roads and cars looks superb and the detail put into the cars is excellent. When crashing you can see the front end of the cars buckle a little while a bunch of sparks fly all around. Doing burnouts results in thick clouds of gray smoke that hang in the air.
The Audio in NFS 2012 is amazing. Each car’s engine makes the same sound you would get from it’s real world equivalent. Screeching tires as you drift through a huge turn sound great and keep you pulled into the action. Music wise there is a great mix of artists including The Who, DJ Fresh, Silent Code, Asherel and Deadmau5 to drive around to.
Online play is similar to Criterion’s Burnout series. Once you sign in, you are dropped into the same open world you are normally in, but now it’s populated with other racers.
One racer is the host and sets up all the events for everyone there. Online events can be anything from win a race to get to this area and Takedown as many other players as you can. Online play is fun and offers lots of different options for you and your friends to select from.
Overall NFS 2012 is a great racer. While you may not be able to customize cars in any major way there are still plenty of things to do and tons of billboards to crash through.
NFS 2012 is releasing for free on PS Plus for Europe in August which means you can probably expect to see it for free sometime in the coming months here in the United States.
7.5 out of 10