Need for Speed: Most Wanted does not have any plot. The game takes place in the city of Fairhaven. Fairhaven could have been Noname City or Itdoesntmatter City. It has no history, no past, no future. Neither do you. It doesn’t matter who you are, who the other drivers are, or why you should feel obliged to beat the fifteen most wanted drivers in Fairhaven. Go on, drive around, roam the industrial zones or cut across the beach. You’re free to wander!
Playability: Heavy steering
With hardly any tutorial and not even the semblance of a proper introductory sequence, Need for Speed: Most Wanted promptly cuts to the chase. Just find a car and race! Most of the cars seem unresponsive and heavy to drive either with a controller or keyboard. Whether it’s a 911, a Corvette, a Zonda or an Impreza, the cars all feel more or less the same. So next time you visit your local dealership, just get the cheapest model without any of the options…
Annoyance: Driving aimlessly
It is difficult to see what the point of Need for Speed: Most Wanted is. Cars are already available around the city of Fairhaven, it is just a matter of finding them. They’re easily spottable with big flashy logos suspended in mid air above. The cars are unlocked and ready to drive. Race around the clock maybe or beat your friends online? The absence of a campaign and a storyline does solve the matter of a poor plot. No characters, no stories. A few names are dropped (the 15 most wanted drivers you need to beat) but we all know it’s just the computer toying with you and not even pretending the least bit.
Beauty: If you like fast cars
With more than sixty cars that are not usually available at the rental agencies or the local car coop schemes, Most Wanted has enough big names to make collectors drool: Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren. A few cheap names such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW even make the cut! The vehicles you can drive, whether they’re everyday cars, muscle cars or super cars are beautiful to watch and sport appropriately gaudy colours. In contrast, the local traffic in Fairhaven seems to consist almost exclusively of poorly rendered and totally bland boxes on wheels. The absence of pedestrians or any form of sentient life makes the surroundings eerily artificial.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Mechanical off target driving 6/10
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is amusing in short bursts, like nitrous oxide. The cars are flashy and you don’t even have to work for them. Drive around town causing mayhem like a child in a sandbox. The absence of a plot combines with rather unresponsive driving to make the game a purely mechanical experience without the arcade fun. In the end, there is rather little excitement in crashing cars or getting trounced by faceless drivers.