Need for Speed Most Wanted (Vita) Review – The RX Bandits summed it up really in the title of their song ‘Analog Boy’. I like single-player video game experiences. I don’t think co-op makes everything better. And I haven’t held an Xbox Live Gold Account for a number of years. Sometimes I feel like I am being left behind by a world so focused on multiplayer that it forgets how things used to be.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a multiplayer game wrapped up in a single player game package. The semblance of a single player game is there, building up your reputation to take on the ten most wanted cars in the city with a view to becoming number one. And it is undeniably fun while you’re doing that. But throughout the entire experience I felt I was missing something both by not having anyone on my friends list playing the damn thing and by opting to not actively participate in multiplayer. In short, what single player was there was fun, but it felt like it was the candy case on the delicious chocolate held within.
The draw of Need for Speed: Most Wanted is pretty simple. The pure driving pleasure created by developer Criterion is second to none in video games. Speeding around the city feels as I imagine it should, and there is nothing more exciting than flying around the city in a Koenigsegg Agera R with an army of police cars in hot pursuit. It is easy to waste an hour speeding around the city with no objective just because it is easily accessible and a whole stack of fun. Which is just the problem. The races in the game, outside of the ten most wanted races, feel a bit by the numbers and generally unexciting particularly compared to the adrenaline fuelled cop chases. There can be some tense moments in some of the races, but there is no mistaking the feeling that the races just exist as a mechanism to earn yourself the right to race against the most wanted cars by accumulating ‘Speed Points’. That is if you’re not playing multiplayer and earning these points by beating ‘autolog’ records set by your friends. So while single-player only folk will get something from the game, there is no escaping that the game feels like it has been built from the ground up for people with a lot of online friends also playing the game.
Don’t let me put you off of the game, particularly if you are a Vita owner looking to bolster your collection. The Vita version is at worst a technical accomplishment and at best a game that will live in your Vita due to its perfect pick up and play nature. Either way Most Wanted is one of the most impressive games on Sony’s struggling handheld and one that, particularly if you can pick it up on the cheap, will give you hours of entertainment – particularly if you can look past its flaws and that fact that it is at its core a multiplayer focused high-score table.