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.

Product Review

Cyberpunk 2077 looks like an astonishing evolution for action RPGs

Cyberpunk 2077's hour long E3 2019 gameplay presentation dazzled us. From its staggeringly varied approach to combat to a dizzying degree of customization, Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it could set a new bar for open world RPGs.
Gaming

Borderlands 3 feels like more of the same, but that’s a good thing

Our Borderlands 3 preview takes a look at new weapons and mechanics that help make it a new but familiar experience. It's your standard Borderlands fare and ultimately more of the same, and that isn't exactly a bad thing.
Gaming

The Genesis Mini will make you wonder how Sega lost the console wars

Sega may have lost the console wars to Nintendo, but it has stepped up its game in the new, retro console wars. The Sega Genesis Mini boasts an impressive lineup of games and has authentic, charming hardware design.
Deals

Need a smartphone? The Razer Phone 2 gets a huge $300 price cut

Mobile gaming has grown seen incredible growth in recent years. The best gaming smartphones tend to be expensive, though, but the beefy Razer Phone 2 is on sale right now for a huge discount on Amazon that can save you hundreds.
Deals

Walmart drops a big $200 price cut on the Dell XPS 8930 PC

If you're looking for an affordable gaming PC, you'll want to check out this Dell XPS 8930 Gaming Desktop Computer (8th Gen), which is $200 off from Walmart. Normally $1,400, a cool 14% discount brings the price down to $1,200.
Gaming

From Nintendo to Capcom, here are the best booths we saw at E3 2019

Every year, publishers and developers gather in Los Angeles to show off their games at E3. Booths are a major part of the excitement and this year didn't let us down. From Nintendo to Capcom, here are the best booths of E3 2019.
Gaming

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is endearing and wonderfully weird

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is as magically weird as I remembered. The super cute art style fits Koholint Island so well, and Nintendo improved multiple, critical mechanics.
Computing

Don’t call it retro. Atari’s VCS is a modern console for PC gamers

You might think the Atari VCS is another retro console like the Nintendo SNES Classic or Sega Genesis Mini. You'd be wrong. Atari's VCS is actually a modern console that runs PC hardware. Yes, it can play Atari games, but it does much more.
Gaming

Call of Duty: Mobile is the best shooter I’ve played on a smartphone

Call of Duty: Mobile attempts to put the franchise's tight gameplay in the palm of your hand. It's largely successful, thanks to precise controls and attractive graphics. The game arrives on iOS and Android later this year.
Gaming

The PlayStation Network is back up. Here’s the latest on the PSN outage

Sony's PlayStation Network is back online after going down for several hours on Thursday afternoon, annoying legions of gamers right in the middle of E3. Here's the latest on the outage
Cars

Tesla screens may support YouTube with next software update

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced today at E3 that the infotainment screens will support YouTube video streaming very soon. This most likely lines up with the latest software update that is expected later this year.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for June 2019

Looking to score Nintendo's latest console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals, including discounts on bundles that feature must-have games like Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Gaming

Niantic Labs sues hackers who help players cheat in Pokémon Go

Niantic Labs has filed a lawsuit against Global++, who is said to be behind the hacked versions of Pokémon Go and Ingress. The legal action comes as the developer is preparing to launch Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.