|modes= Single-player, Multiplayer
|platforms= Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Mobile phone
|media= CD, DVD, UMD, GameCube Game Disc, GBA Cartridge, NDS Game Card
|input= Keyboard and mouse, Steering Wheel, Gamepad
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (NFS: MW) is a racing video game, developed by EA Black Box game's street racing-oriented game play, with certain (but not all) customization options from the Need for Speed: Underground series. The game is also succeeded by Need for Speed: Carbon, which serves as a sequel to Most Wanted.
Most Wanted has been released for Windows-based personal computers, the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360 (as a launch title), Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and mobile phones. Another version of Most Wanted, titled Need for Speed: Most Wanted: 5-1-0 has been released for the PlayStation Portable. This is the first game in the Need for Speed series to be rated T (even though the European version is Still Rated 3+).
Need for Speed: Most Wanted 'Black Edition', a collector's edition of Most Wanted, was released in celebration of the Need for Speed series' tenth anniversary and in conjunction with the release of Most Wanted. The Black Edition features additional races, bonus cars and other additional content. The Black Edition also comes with a special feature DVD that contains interviews and videos about the game. The Black Edition was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox in the United States and Australia; only the PlayStation 2 version of Black Edition was released additionally for Europe.
The player arrives in the fictional city of Rockport with a racing version of the BMW M3 GTR. Following Mia Townsend (played by Josie Maran), the player proves his driving prowess as he is pursued by a veteran police officer named Sergeant Cross, who vows to take down the player and end street racing in Rockport. Races seem to be in the player's favor until a particular group of racers, led by the game's antagonist, Clarence Razor Callahan (played by Derek Hamilton), sabotage and seize the player's car. Without a car to escape in, the player is arrested by Cross, but is later released due to lack of evidence. (As Mia mentioned in the game, "It's hard to be arrested for street racing when you don't have a car".) Mia picks up the player and then informs the player about Razor's new status on the Blacklist, a group of 15 drivers most wanted by the Rockport Police Department. She then helps by assisting the player in acquiring a new car and working his way up the Blacklist. Rivals are defeated one by one, and the player is rewarded with reputation, new rides, and ride improvements with every Blacklist member taken down. As new boroughs are opened up throughout Rockport (Rosewood, Camden Beach, and Downtown Rockport), Mia also sets up safehouses for the player to lie low in, in exchange for placement of "side bets" on the player's races.
The final challenge for the #1 spot on the Blacklist puts the player in a race against Razor, with the player emerging as the victor, thus reclaiming the BMW. When Razor refuses to relinquish ownership of the car and attacks Mia after she confiscates the keys from Razor, she subdues him, while revealing herself to be an undercover Cop. Mia throws the keys to the player, and tells him to escape the incoming police force. Razor is taken into custody and the player is pursued by the entire Rockport Police Department under the command of Cross.
The player manages to slip away from Cross and abandons Rockport City by launching the BMW over an old incomplete bridge that Mia points out to the player in her last phone call. After the player's escape, Cross brings up the player's rap sheet and adds him to the National Most Wanted List. In addition to Razor, the entire Blacklist is arrested with the "help" of the player.
Need for Speed: Carbon's storyline acts as a sequel, set at an undetermined time just after Most Wanted.
The cut scenes in the game are live-action videos shot with real actors and set pieces, and CGI effects are added to car exteriors and environments for extra visual flair. The videos are presented in a significantly different style from the Underground series, and this presentation of cut scenes is used again in Carbon and Undercover.
Most Wanted, like other Need for Speed games, is essentially a driving and racing game, where the player selects one car and races against a time limit or other racers to reach a destination. Police chases have once again been integrated into certain racing sessions, in which the police employ vehicles and tactics to stop the player's car and arrest the player, like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, and Need for Speed: Carbon. As players take control of faster cars and increasingly rely on nitrous oxide speed boosts, the oxide meter now refills automatically for the first time since its introduction in Underground, and driving sequences become fast-paced and intense similar to the Burnout series.
Three distinct regions are offered in the city of Rockport, along with cycling weather. Racing events take place between sunrise and sunset, unlike in the Underground where the events took place at night. A Grand Theft Auto-like Free Roam mode is provided as in Need for Speed: Underground 2, but is still limited to Career mode, as well as pursuit-based events in other modes.
The game provides players with three game modes. The Quick Race mode allows the player to select a car and an event and immediately start racing. The available cars and events are unlocked as the player progresses through the storyline in the Career mode. Achieving goals by winning races and performing a number of actions, dubbed "Milestones", during police pursuits, as well as a minimum Bounty are needed to advance in the storyline and race against any of the mode's 15 Blacklist racers. In the Xbox 360 version, the player is awarded with Achievement Points each time a Blacklist opponent is defeated. Career mode introduces a new feature - the ability to win a Blacklist opponent's car ("pink slip"), bonus functions, extra cash or car parts and decors, after defeating the opponent in question. These come in the form of six markers - the rival's pink slip (which is concealed as a bonus marker), two bonus function markers, and three custom backroom parts markers of which there is a body part, visual upgrade, and performance marker ("Junkman Marker") that the player can select - of which the player can choose only two. New cars and parts are also unlocked as the player progresses through Career mode by beating Blacklist racers.
In addition to the Quick Race and Career modes, there is also a "Challenge Series" mode involving 68 progressively difficult challenges where players are required to successfully complete Tollbooth races and pursuit challenges, such as tagging a number of police cars. The pre-tuned cars used in each Challenge is fixed, ranging from mostly Career cars with poor handling to traffic vehicles such as a dump truck or police cars. Additional bonus cars may be unlocked as the player progresses through Challenge mode.
In terms of actual variations of races, Most Wanted inherits several racing modes prevalent in its Underground predecessors. The game's four existing modes: Circuit races, point-to-point Sprint races, lap knockout races and Drag races, remain largely unchanged since the first iteration of Underground, while Drifting, Street X, Underground Racing League tournaments and Outrun racing are removed. Meanwhile, Most Wanted sees the introduction of two new racing variations, which places emphasis on speed. The first mode is known as "Tollbooth," where a player races alone to designated checkpoints along a point-to-point route before time runs out; the more time a player has as they reach a toll booth, the more time they have to arrive at the next one. The second mode, dubbed "Speedtrap", sees racers competing with each other to get the highest accumulated speed record at multiple traffic cameras. At a speed trap/traffic camera, players accelerate their car to aim for the highest possible speed. Accumulated speed is reduced over a period of time after an opponent crosses the finish line first.
in Free Roam mode. This screenshot also depicts the use of simulated HDRR on the sunny sky and surface lighting.]]
Most Wanted features pursuit evasion in the game for the first time since Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. In Career mode, police pursuits may occur during a race or during free roaming through the city, depending on the frequency of the police units in the area and the offenses players have committed. The player can initiate a pursuit immediately from the game's Safe House or menu by choosing an unfinished Milestone or a Bounty challenge. Pursuits can also be initiated by selecting an appropriate Challenge in the Challenge Series mode. Traffic offenses committed by the player are known in game as Infractions. These include speeding, excessive speeding, reckless driving, damage to property, hit and run (the player hits traffic), ramming a police unit, resisting arrest, not driving on the road (driving on pavements, grass etc).
The police pursuit system is significantly more complex than its previous Hot Pursuit incarnations. The manner in which the police handle a player is now determined by the "heat level" of the player's current car (although this has been similarly utilized in Hot Pursuit 2). Heat levels, which increase with the length of a police pursuit and the amount of damage caused by the player during the pursuit, add a twist to the pursuit. The higher the car's heat level, the more aggressive the police units are against the player, employing additional tactics and tools, such as roadblocks, spike strips, police helicopters and heavier and faster police cars such as police SUV's. However, not all police tactics can appear in all heat levels. For example, roadblocks can appear in any heat level (even in heat 1, although it is rarely noticed), but spike strips only appear in high heat levels. Up to five police cars may be observed pursuing a single car at Heat level 1 and up to twenty-five may be present in Heat level 5 (thirty police cars are pursuing the player's car in the final pursuit). There are five heat levels in the game (with a hidden sixth and seventh heat level at the end of Career mode and in the Black Edition respectively). The type of police chasing the player is dependent on the heat level. At lower heat levels the player will be pursued by Civic/Local cops driving generic Crown Victoria style cars. At the intermediate heat levels, State police driving Pontiac GTo's will pursue. At the higher heat levels the player will be pursued by Federal police driving Corvettes and/or SUV's. Each cop type has both the marked and undercover versions of their particular cars.
Players will have to be careful in pursuits as a higher wanted level may prompt Cross to join the pursuit in a Chevrolet Corvette C6 with customized paintwork. Cross may likely be the most seasoned member on his police force due the fact that he drives cleanly, not hitting any other cars or scenery, and generally hanging close behind to the player's car even at high speeds. Although the level of resistance offered by Cross is not exceptionally greater than that offered by the other Heat Level 5 Corvettes. Difference, if any might be felt, would be, that the "dirty" trick of changing your direction quickly near on and off ramps, dividers, and different roads, and dodging in and out local traffic may not be applicable on him.
In Career mode, pursuits are integrated into the game in such a way that it is necessary to participate in pursuit in order to be able to challenge Blacklist racers. The player must complete "Milestones," which involves committing at least a specified amount of traffic offenses or pursuit lengths during a pursuit, and collecting an amount of "Bounty", a form of credit accumulated as players continue to evade the police or damage police units. A car's Heat level may be reduced by changing the physical appearance of a car by changing body parts or paint color, or by using another purchased car with a lower heat level to race in the streets. If a car is not being used by the player (it is in the “safehouse”), its heat level will slowly lower over time. Rap Sheets, with records such as the player's infractions, cost to state, deployed tactics and pursuit lengths, are also available for viewing by "hacking" into police records, and also includes the player's standing in each individual record against those of other Blacklist racers.
Players are provided with several additional features which are useful during pursuits. The Speedbreaker, provided within the driving interface, slows down time (similar to bullet time), momentarily adds weight to the player's car allowing it to become more difficult for other vehicles (especially police vehicles) to push around, and induces a drift. This allows the player a limited amount of time to quickly maneuver the car out of difficult situations, or assess an escape route through a road block or spike strip blockade. Another feature in Most Wanted are Pursuit Breakers, road-side objects which are designed to collapse when a player uses their car to knock down its support, either damaging or disabling following police cars (which can be visually seen in many cases). In one example, if a player smashes through a gas station, the roof of the station falls crushing unlucky police units following them. In order to evade the pursuit, players must get out of the pursuing police’s line of sight. This is accomplished by getting a certain distance away from the cops or by disabling the cops. Once the player has evaded the cops they enter “Cooldown” period. While in “Cooldown” the player must avoid being detected/seen by the police. If the player is detected while in “Cooldown” the pursuit continues. After a certain amount of time and if the player is not detected/seen by the cops the “Cooldown” period will end and the cops will give up and officially end the pursuit. Hiding spots (a.k.a. cooldown spots) are areas in the world, usually not seen from the street/road, where players may stop and wait for the “Cooldown” to end. If the player finds a hiding spot and stops they will spend significantly less time in “Cooldown” mode. Hiding spots can be found using the mini-map (an icon will appear indicating where the hiding spots are) and are scattered around the city in places like underground carparks and back alleys.
While the game features police cars, Most Wanted does not allow players to play as a pursuing police in chases. However, players may drive several police cars in Challenge mode, but are solely used in checkpoint races and police pursuits, where the police are still pursuing the player.
Online multiplayer is available on Xbox 360, Xbox, PC and PlayStation Portable. Up to 4 players can participate in an online race and can race in 4 game modes including circuit, sprint, lap knockout and speed trap. Furthermore, there is the option to enable Performance Matching in an online race. When performance matching is enabled, all cars in the race are automatically upgraded to match the performance (i.e. top speed, handling, etc) of the fastest car in that particular race. However, as soon as the race is over all modifications made to the cars by performance matching are removed.
EA eased support to the Windows version of the game very early in its life cycle. The latest patch for the Windows version (1.3) was released on December 6, 2005.
A major online phenomenon that surfaced shortly after the game came out was drifting. Racers would go backwards on the map "Omega" and get off of the map under a building in the city. One of the more common places to drift was Port Camden also known as "The Shipyard" to most online players.
with Porsche 911 Turbo S.]]
The depiction between all of the versions graphics-wise is not the same especially on portable versions. The PSP version (also known as Need for Speed: Most Wanted: 5-1-0) has a lower frame rate as well as most other games, due to hardware restrictions. The Microsoft Windows version, of course, varies by hardware and can look better compared to the console versions. The recommended hardware or above has a similar frame rate to the XBOX and Xbox 360 versions. It should also be noted that game makes heavy use of the HDRR and motion blur effects to give a more realistic feel.
Most Wanted, like the Underground series, avoids the use of major vehicle damage on all racing models, with only scratched paint and heavily cracked windscreens comprising the whole of the racers' damage modeling. Police cars, however, are subject to extreme physical body damages. They can be immobilized if they flip over or have been heavily damaged by "pursuit breakers" and/or the player's car.
There are a wide range of cars available for the main Career mode of the game. Tuners return from Underground 2 (EG. Chevy Colbalt SS, Toyota Supra)) but SUVs do not return except as non-playable police vehicles. Exotics (EG. Lotus Elise, Lamborghinis, Porsches) make their first appearance since Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 and classic muscle cars featured in the Black Edition (EG Ford Mustang) are new to the series. As the game progresses, better and faster cars are unlocked and races get faster and more intense as the player makes his/her way through the game. Cars must either be purchased at car lots or won by getting the pink slip to a Blacklist Racer's car, as detailed in the Modes section.
Cars can be purchased at car lots in stock condition with no enhancement whatsoever. Not all of them are available or affordable for purchase at the beginning stages of Career mode and must be unlocked by defeating a certain Blacklist member.
As in the preceding Underground installments, the performance and physical appearance of the player's car can be extensively modified, but options for exterior and interior modifications have been significantly reduced to only the essentials. The customization of side mirrors, lights, exhausts and individual body kit pieces were dropped from body customization. However, instead of individual body kit pieces, up to 6 whole body kits can be chosen, some of which widen the car's stance. The "Car Specialties" customization (including neon, nitrous purge, hydraulics, spinners, doors, split hoods, and trunk audio) have been completely eliminated with the exception of window tint and custom gauges. Paint customization is limited to the main body color (with mirror, exhaust, spoiler, roof scoop, and brake color options gone). Unlike the Underground games, visual customization is used to lower the car's "heat level", instead of increasing the car's "visual rating". Additionally, players are allowed to assume a sleeper appearance (leaving the exterior of the car unmodified or barely modified) for cars without penalty in Most Wanted.
As in other EA Black Box Need for Speed games, Most Wanted's soundtrack comprises a licensed selection of Underground hip hop, metalcore and electronica/techno music. Additionally, Paul Linford provided interactive scores for police pursuit sessions.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted: 5-1-0 is a PlayStation Portable port of Most Wanted, released on the same day as its console and personal computer counterparts. Similar to Most Wanted, Most Wanted: 5-1-0 features a similar Blacklist 15 listing and Career Mode, with the addition of "Tuner Takedown", a "Be The Cop" mode not featured on Most Wanted. Most Wanted: 5-1-0 lacks many elements of its other console and PC counterparts, like cut scenes, a storyline and a free roam mode, and contains minor differences (including listing the real name of a Blacklist racer rather than his/her nickname). The title of the game is based on the numerals "5-1-0", which is the police code for street racing.
|GI=8.5 out of 10
|GSpot=8.4 out of 10
|PCGUS=98 out of 100
|PCZone=88 out of 100
|GR=90% (23 reviews)
|MC=82 out of 100 (19 reviews)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted has received positive reviews. It has an aggregate score of 82 out of 100 on both Metacritic and Game Rankings. GameSpot, who gave the game an 8.4 out of 10 praised the game for its "sharp graphics" and "outstanding sound effects", but criticized the AI for being too easy at first, but too hard later on.
IGN gave it an 8.5 out of 10 "great" rating, praising almost every element of the game. Praise was given to the map design, described as "a crazily chromed out, sepia-tone landscape of industrial structures", car modeling, saying "The car models are especially sleek looking too", the car line up and the return of exotics. Particularly strong praise was given to the police system, saying "The cops are never that smart, but they continually grow in aggressiveness and numbers." and "they add that very necessary component of challenge, annoyance, and heat that makes this game so fun". Praise even went to the cut scenes and their casting, which usually falls victim to critics, saying "this mixture of animated, highly colored FMV characters and stylized backgrounds is both imaginative and refreshing".
Need for Speed: World Online is an upcoming massively multiplayer online racing game, developed by EA Black Box and EA Singapore. The game will feature Rockport and Palmont, locations of Most Wanted and Carbon respectively.