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Saturday, November 3, 2012

[Review] Need for Speed Most Wanted PS Vita

I'm going to be changing up the way I do reviews by adding brackets, like above, before each review just so you can tell what's a review and what's me simply talking about reviews.

I bought Need for Speed Most Wanted a little over an hour ago and have been playing non-stop since buying it. I had heard that the console versions were not so good but the PlayStation Vita was excellent mostly due to the use of the touch screens. I feel that I've gone through enough of the game to give a little bit of a review on its good and bad for the most part. After a while of playing, I'll come back to update if I feel that anything needs to be updated.

I love racing games and have for a long time. I loved cars as a kid so naturally I liked the racing genre. My parents didn't like me playing violent games so racing games were encouraged. In the early 2000's when Midnight Club II and Need for Speed Underground came out, I was all over Midnight Club because I preferred having an open world over customization. Although, upon playing the first Most Wanted, I was changed and became a NFS fan. I bought Most Wanted for my PSP and really enjoyed playing it. Soon after, I purchased Carbon for both my PSP and Xbox but wasn't into it as much as Most Wanted. Soon after, the next NFS games came around and none of them seemed to capture my attention as much as Most Wanted. Earlier this year, I even bought the game for my Xbox 360. I was surprised by its price because it was $35 and the game came out more than 5 years ago. Needless to say, the game is very high among racing fans.

I've been waiting for this game to come out since I found out its release and finally got it and played it and I must say that it's better than I thought, however...

The game has some good qualities like:

If you love open world and racing games, you will love this game. The game begins with you driving through the city of Fairhaven. While previous games had you purchase cars, this game has you search the city for the various rides ranging from Lamborghinis to Ford F-150's. To some gamers, this might be a plus and to others, it is a minus. For me, I like it but I don't for various reasons I'll explain in a bit. The game has a lot to do with the open world. There is no traditional main menu like in other games so the game has you speeding through the city most of the time. Customization and change of cars can be done through an in-driving mode but change of cars can also be done through finding cars throughout the city and pressing the triangle to "hop" inside of the car and take it.

The most fun out of any racing game, especially NFS games, are the cop chases. The game has speed-traps, billboards, and gates that are to be smashed and sped through and speed-traps will alert police to your presence and begin a pursuit. I have engaged cops three times in the game and the first two times were very easy to evade and the third, I intentionally slowed down so that the police could catch up but easily evaded them once more. I am sure that the chases get much more difficult at other times.

The currency in the game is won, of course, through racing and ramming cops, bashing billboards, ramming other racers, and other ways. Parts for the vehicles are unlocked when players race and win first or second place. There is no mechanic shop in the game. Customization through mods and parts happens through the in-driving menu.

There isn't a real story mode like previous NFS games. The story just has you race to join the ranks of those notorious racers in the city of Fairhaven.

The game doesn't seem to have any way to modify the look of your car. In other games like Most Wanted 1 and Carbon, players were able to add a spoiler and other types of aftermarket accessories to change the look of the car. I haven't found anything, so far, that allows me to do such a thing. When I did my first mod, the game had no sort of animation as if they were in a mechanic's garage working on the car. The menu just appeared, I clicked the mod, and it said that it finished and installed the mod. The player can change the color of a car and this can be done by driving through a gas station/drive-thru kind of building near roads. Doing so not only changes the color but also seems to fix the car's damage if any exist. The damage taken by cars is quite realistic to an extent. If you bump the front bumper on one side, that side will look dented. However, some parts are not completely realistic for instance, the front window doesn't seem to shatter but only bends and dents. If a player runs into a wall or another car with force, the driver is alerted that the car has crashed and waits a few seconds before being allowed to drive off.

The graphics on my Vita are great. I have nearly zero problems with the look of the game on the surface. The game moves smoothly and the looks of the cars and environment is fairly realistic. The controls are fairly basic. The screen's font is a little too small for me. I assume that EA simply ported the same version of the game onto each console and they are all pretty much the same.

So far, I have yet to see what the touch screen has to do with the game. Critics have said that the touch screens have to be the best part about the game. The rear touch screen has one function and that's in changing the music. If you swipe to your right, the song skips to the next. If you swipe to your left, the song skips backwards. If you swipe up, the son pauses and plays. I have not found what swiping down or simply pressing the touch pad does though.

To talk a bit about the music, I haven't found anything that I like in terms of music. Other NFS games, EA games for that matter, typically always had a few familiar songs as well as some new ones that I would later fall in love with. Sadly, this game only seems to feature music from the Indie and Dubstep genres with very little from any other genre. Fortunately, most next generation consoles allow the user to use their own music which is what I've been doing so far. There seems to be no way in which a player can customize the tracks that are played unlike previous EA games with their "EA Trax".

Overall, the game is quite nice. It is much better than I anticipated but the game is not perfect. Unfortunately, I still prefer the first Most Wanted to this game even with all of its unique features. Hopefully EA can get back on track with NFS fans and produce a game that we can all say is the best NFS so far. This game is great, but not the best title in the NFS series as far as I'm concerned.

I plan to continue playing the game and update back here if I find any differences or anything that needs to be added.

Update 11/4/2012 10:23 AM:

I've been playing the game since I've written this and I've got some more stuff to add. To be truthful, I'm not as excited as I once was and kind of disappointed.

The critics' reviews for the game were fairly good but users' reviews are horrendous and saying that this game is not deserving of the NFS name. I did a little research and found out that this game was made by the folks behind the Burnout series. I remember being a bit younger and thinking the crashes were cool on Burnout but never got into the series and never bought any of the games. Racing games always needed an open world and/or customization for me to really enjoy them. As time has gone on, that "and/or" has changed to simply "and" which this game lacks in customization which I desperately need in a game. Seeing as these are the people behind this game...that explains a lot.

I've now come to find that the game does lack in visual customization. There are no mods for spoilers or body kits or any of that. All of the mods are under the hood. The only "visual" customization that you could really count are the nitro shots.

What really made me dislike this game so much now is the fact that the game gives no option for changing between manual and automatic transmission. Other gamers have said that the Burnout games have not utilized a manual transmission either and the previous NFS titles haven't had manual transmissions either. It's highly unlikely that this game will have such an option either hidden in the game or added on later simply for that reason.

I raced online with a few strangers and I will say that the online gameplay is fun. I raced two races with a group of racers and then we had a mode where we went to a warehouse and slammed into each other to rack up points. I've got to say that that was fun. However, the races need more enthusiasm. I don't know what's missing, but something is definitely missing from the races that was in previous NFS games (most notably the first Most Wanted).

One thing to say about this game is that it is very confusing. I had a hard time being able to tell when races would start or which direction when finishing a race. The online mode allows free roam but sort of forces you into a club and then has your car drive to these races. However, it isn't forced so you could miss out on races, I believe, and just free roam the entire time. The interface is very confusing. Your HUD will disappear and reappear at awkward moments when you need it most. And then the game shades the screen at some points and you have no idea what's going on. The lack of a story also makes the game feel kind of pointless. Races aren't as big as they once were and winning races is a bit challenging but sometimes very easy. Walls will pop out of nowhere in races where a race will have you miss a center divider but not tell you that that divider is there and you crash. When you crash, you have no idea how long you'll be out and you might have been in first place, but then you now are in 5th place even though you saw no cars pass you.

The way in which races start is really not my style either. When you enter a race, your car is already moving with the other cars instead of everyone stopped and then proceeding all at once.

The choice in cars is also confusing. I see duplicates of the same car in the choose car menu and really don't see what are the differences between the cars with the same names.

After playing more and more, I've come to really dislike this game. If it didn't have the NFS name on it or the Most Wanted name, the game might not have been so bad in many of our opinions. I suppose we had high hopes coming in and were just flat out disappointed that this game didn't bring back the same elements as the game mentioned in this title. I'm not sure what EA is thinking, but the NFS series is becoming a joke with every single game produced. I'm not sure why they switched developers or why they insisted on removing some of the elements that made the NFS series so popular. I have noticed that they have been adding little by little to each game what made them great in the first place such as re-adding illegal street racing, open worlds, and others.

I don't think I'm going to buy the next NFS title unless I know for sure that it'll be good. Other gamers are saying that they are glad that they rented the game instead of buying it which I wish I would've done. I am glad that I did not buy this through the PSN store because I am putting this game on Craigslist.

Definitely not one of my favorites and I think EA really needs to go back to what made them so great. Perhaps the next Midnight Club title will grab my attention or another developer will come along and make an even better game.

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