E3 2012: Need For Speed: Most Wanted almost resurrects Burnout Paradise

e3 2012 need for speed most wanted almost resurrects burnout paradise mostwanted 022

In the world of pure racing games, there are two distinct approaches that have proven successful over the years: Ultra-realism (a la Gran Turismo) and arcade-style gameplay focused on speed, massive jumps and a vague flirtation with physics only when it doesn’t interfere with a player’s enjoyment. Over the past decade developer Criterion Games has been the king of the latter style, and their most beloved effort in that vein was the open-world racer Burnout Paradise. That game combined a giant play area with literally hundreds of different diversions to enjoy, and the result was an intensely addictive gameplay experience for anyone who didn’t mind that their car wasn’t officially licensed and didn’t exactly adhere to Isaac Newton’s ideas of how things work.

Since Burnout Paradise was released in 2008, Criterion was brought into the EA family of software developers, which is crucial for two key reasons: first, it gave the firm the money to build even bigger, better games, and secondly, it meant that Criterion would have access to EA’s Need for Speed series of racing games, which, at the time, were languishing. The developer’s first effort in this new capacity was Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, a reimagining of a title from 1998 that was an instant success, earning a spot as the most critically beloved of the NFS titles.

That’s a pretty massive pedigree to live up to, but after playing Need for Speed: Most Wanted a few moments ago, I have immense faith in the developer’s latest title.

I mentioned Burnout Paradise above specifically because NFS: Most Wanted feels a lot like that game. It contains a wide-open world, offers tons of things to do, looks gorgeous, and most crucially, has entertaining, accessible, slightly unrealistic, arcade-style controls. That said, it also trumps Paradise both aesthetically and by virtue of its surprisingly large selection of actual, licensed vehicles. Criterion wouldn’t tell me exactly how many different models the game contains, but in my short time with the game I saw a dozen different cars roaming the streets.

Granted, the garage won’t compete with Gran Turismo’s 400+ vehicles, but it isn’t supposed to; the cars represented here have been selected because they’re gorgeous, expensive, unattainable for the common person, and really, really fun to drive at high speed. Likewise, they’re also very fun to smash into things. Criterion made its name with the Burnout series and while NFS: Most Wanted seems far more focused on actually racing than crashing in spectacular ways, when you do smash up your ride (or someone else’s) the game enters an exceedingly cool slow-motion cinematic mode that captures the destruction with almost pornographic affection. Then, a few moments later, the camera snaps back into the action and you’re racing again. It’s a momentary diversion, but this game is at least partly based on spectacle and it has that in spades.

More crucially however, the game offers what seems like months of gameplay. Imagine all the various objectives in Burnout Paradise, but with social interactivity akin to that seen in Trials Evolution. Everything you do in NFS: Most Wanted, online or offline, is tracked to a ridiculous degree and these stats are posted in-game for your friends to see. In lieu of a hackneyed storyline, the ultimate goal of Most Wanted is to become the “most wanted” among your social group by besting all of their various scores. Sure, it’s a simple gimmick that’s been driving gamers since the days of Asteroids, but as the aforementioned Trials Evolution proves, when coupled with short, spectacular objectives, a race for ever-higher scores can be intensely addictive.

Unfortunately I was only offered a limited amount of time with the game, so I didn’t get to explore it to the degree I would like, but given that I’m currently typing this while wishing that I was still smashing through billboards and jumping over freeways in a Lamborghini Aventador should indicate something about the impression it made. The game hits Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on October 30, 2012, and fans of both racing, and elegantly crafted, entertaining arcade-style video games should keep their interest piqued.

Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Gaming

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.
Gaming

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Gaming

Where we droppin’ (presents)? Perfect ‘Fortnite’ gifts for the fans in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Gaming

Have a spooky dance party at an abandoned mansion with Fortnite's new challenges

The Fortnite season 7, week 2 challenges have arrived in Battle Royale. From searching for chests to dancing off at an abandoned mansion, here's how to do them and the rewards you get for completing them.
Gaming

Sega Genesis classics now playable on Amazon Fire TV, no retro console required

Sega released the SEGA Classics app for Amazon Fire TV devices, allowing gamers to play Sega Genesis classics without having to buy a retro console. The $15 app contains 25 games, including three remastered Sonic titles.
Deals

The Super NES Classic is the perfect holiday gift for Nintendo lovers

Whether you're a long-time Nintendo fan looking to relive the 16-bit glory days or just doing some holiday shopping, the SNES Classic -- now in stock at multiple retailers for $80 -- might just be the perfect Christmas gift for gamers of…
Computing

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam streaming hub with Valve’s Steam Link app

Valve's Steam Link app is now fully supported by Raspberry PI hardware, meaning that just about anyone with a few dollars to spare can build their own Steam streaming box in a matter of minutes.
Gaming

Nintendo pulls the plug on making more SNES Classic, NES Classic systems

Nintendo extended production of the NES Classic and SNES Classic into 2018, but once the current supply of consoles is gone, the company won't be making more. Instead, you'll have to use Nintendo Switch Online.
Gaming

Fancy ‘Kingdom Hearts III’ PlayStation 4 Pro launches alongside game in January

A limited edition PlayStation 4 Pro bundle for Kingdom Hearts III will launch alongside the game in January. The system included has a special design on the side, as does the controller.
Gaming

Want to share your Xbox One games? Here's how to do it

Sharing games on modern consoles is possible, but it takes a few steps. Here's how to start sharing games on your Xbox One console, so friends and family can easily access your library.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ removes the Infinity Blade weapon after player backlash

Following player backlash over the Infinity Blade weapon's inclusion in Fortnite's battle royale mode, Epic Games decided to remove the weapon from the game completely. It was not limited to a special mode.