E3 2012: Need For Speed: Most Wanted Multiplayer Hands-On Preview – Burning Rubber
Written Tuesday, June 19, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
EA is so keen to promote that Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a Criterion title that it almost looks like it's the game's tagline. Seriously. We’ve not seen so much effort to promote an entity and attach it to a game since Sid Meier came on the scene. Like Sid Meier though, it’s justified, so you can understand the reasoning behind it. Criterion is one of the few studios that seem to have the Midas touch when it comes to video games.
If the studio has put a foot wrong in recent years, then we’ve yet to see it. Successfully rebooting the Hot Pursuit brand a few years back, it’s now the Most Wanted name's turn, and on the strength of what we’ve seen so far, Criterion looks on track to reinvigorate the Need For Speed franchise once again… You know, after the mess that was The Run.
“We don’t make sequels to other people’s games,” said Criterion’s Matt Webster. “So 2012, our take on Most Wanted is an open-world driving game where players race, chase, explore and compete to become the Most Wanted amongst their friends.” In short, it’s a bit of a Burnout and Need For Speed hybrid, which we’re more than alright with.
Most Wanted welcomes back Criterion’s much-lauded Autolog too, which is much improved. So much so they’re calling it version 2.0. According to Webster, Autolog 2.0 will not just track races and times, but it’ll track everything and give you instant comparisons along the way. That means it’ll track speed camera speeds, jumps, security gates, cooldown spots, jack spots; literally everything. Everything you do in Most Wanted will earn you ‘speed points’ that’ll get you to the top of the Most Wanted list above your friends, so it’s not just about the racing.
It’s about making a competition out of everything. It’s about freedom. It’s about openness. So in the open-world – which is incidentally bigger than Burnout Paradise – players will have billboards to smash, huge jumps to test their mettle with, garages to repair your car, jack spots to pick up supercars and much more. Of course, there’ll be races galore as well. Jumping behind the wheel of a BMW M3, we headed into the open-world and prepared for some multiplayer madness.
Criterion is looking to do away with lobbies in Most Wanted and instead, players are invited to “meet-ups” around the city while they're free roaming. It should be noted, that while you’re waiting for everyone at the meet-up, things tend to get a little mental as players look to pass time by decimating their opponents. Once every car is at the meet-up, the game then transitions into an event seamlessly. First up, a straight up checkpoint race.
As you’d expect in a Burnout – or even a Need For Speed – game, players are expected to race dirty, taking down other players along the way using their nitro boost where possible – something that makes the races completely manic. Remember, this is an open-world game too, so going off-road and looking for shortcuts – getting your car dirty in the process – is very much a part of the game too. So long as you hit the checkpoints or meet the event criteria, of course.
The second and third events were possibly the most fun though. The second asked players to jump a highway – the game’s I-92 – and log a record jump distance, while the third asked us to set a fastest speed going through a speed trap. Interestingly enough though, once you’re wrecked by another car in these modes you’re actually eliminated, so setting a record distance or speed and then sabotaging everyone else is actually a pretty sound tactic. Incidentally, it’s probably worth mentioning that by elimination, we mean that you can no longer set a new record, but what you achieved up until that point counts.
Last, but not least, the session finished – again with a meet-up being called and a seamless transition into the race – with a Team Race, in which players can earn their team points for takedowns and the position they finish in the race. Rather amusingly, if you finish the race you can turn around and try and assist the rest of your team by becoming a nuisance to your opposition – turning around and driving head-on into a rival team’s car was a particular highlight. You can even spot rival team players and earn extra points if a fellow racer takes them down.
Simply put, the whole multiplayer experience that we were involved in at E3 was utter carnage and barrels of fun. The playlist threw up a nice variety of events and even the meet-ups – which are essentially the game’s lobbies – resulted in a ton of laughs. Who knew that placing a meet-up on the end of a pier would descend into what can only be described as a destruction derby? We did.
In terms of the handling, it’s fast, responsive and definitely feels more like a Need For Speed game than a Burnout game. That said, the influence of working on Burnout is definitely apparent in the open-world design. It should be noted though, that this isn’t the end for Burnout, as Matt Webster was keen to point out. All we need EA to do now is to stop damaging the Need For Speed franchise when Criterion isn’t developing a game for it, because based on this, Criterion has got the Need For Speed franchise back on track… Yet again.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted is scheduled for an October 30th and November 2nd release in North America and Europe respectively.