FIVE GRAND says my boy will smoke this clown

Originally posted at GameSpot on May 22, 2008

I’ve played a lot of Need for Speed Most Wanted from my trade-in the other day, and it’s turned out to be a great buy. I knew the game would be fun, but I’ve been surprised at just how fun. A couple of highlights that stand out for me:

– As is the case with any great game, it’s the little things that count. When you change from third to first person view, the in-game rain sound changes – it gets louder, just like you’re sitting in the car.

Like I said, just a small touch – but a nice one.

– Another small nuance are the ambient “garage sounds” when you’re at your safe house. A distant police siren, cell phone ringing, the sound of body work being done – it all adds a good atmosphere, enough that if it was turned off you would feel a difference.

– I look at this game as the spiritual successor to Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, and running from the fuzz has never been so well implemented. The “zoom-in” effect really ups the tension as you’re cruising around; you feel like they could pop out around any corner.

– What sort of chord does this game strike? I mean, I enjoy driving away from the cops at break-neck speed while they try to chase me down. In real life I wouldn’t dream of it. In Most Wanted, I can’t get enough! Hiding in the safe zones, hitting the pursuit breakers at just the right moment, etc.; all I’m trying to say is, this game is extremely enjoyable.

– The “heat level” you’re at is well implemented. You start with regular squad cars and go up from there. So far I’ve been to level three, and then I switch cars to lower it down. The police chases are definitely the best part of the game. If only you could play as the cops like previous installments…

– This game has the best sense of speed since Burnout 3. I’ve also noticed some transferable skills crossing over from that game – mainly sideswiping traffic at over one hundred miles an hour.

– Jeff Gerstmann was right – the cut scenes are awesome.

– The city concept is new for me in a racing game. So far, I enjoy it. I just opened up the second section, and now I have a whole new area to explore. Even after I beat everyone on the black list (assuming I do), I can still see myself wanting to drive around in it. Doughnut shops, farms, a realistic freeway system, and brick lane houses that make me think I’m driving through the streets of downtown Gettysburg.

– Another environment perk – there are so many little hideaways and secluded spots that always gives you some place new to drive around or find. Plus, some cool locations are just fun – bus station, ball park, golf course, etc.

– At certain roads or jumps, if you have enough speed, your car goes into a sort of “movie-mode” where you see a short cinematic of your car flying through the air. Nicely down and always cool when it happens.

– I own a red Ford Mustang GT and a black Chevy Cobalt – the former for racing and the latter to keep the heat off. Upgrading each is fun, and I like how you get to pick what kind of upgrade you want after you beat a rival. This includes the random markers, where you may get anything from the pink slip to your opponent’s car to a get-out-of-the-impound-free card.

– The police rap sheet you can tap into is a neat feature, but I can’t say I’m really going to use it much.

– So far, I’ve taken out five rivals – Sonny, Taz (yes, I said Taz), Rick, Izzy, and Big Lou. Razor awaits…

 Post tenebras lux

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