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E3 2012: Need for Speed: Most Wanted hands-on

E3 2012Need for Speed

Criterion’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted feels awfully familiar. The Burnout Paradise developers have brought the best elements from that open world racer into this one, making it feel like a natural successor to the 2008 title.

At the heart of the game is the Autolog 2 system, which knits together you and your friends across the city of Fairview. Its map allows you to see where you friends are and view their progress. Every speed camera, jump and track time is recorded for comparison, which are ultimately aggregated to create a Most Wanted list amongst your friends.

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In different areas of EA’s booth at E3, both singleplayer and multiplayer demos were available, but this created a false sense of separation. In Most Wanted, two button presses will switch you from the former to the latter.

It was the multiplayer that really showed the game’s potential. Most Wanted eschews lobbies, automatically serving up events for players based on their histories and habits. In our demo session, the challenges included individual and team races, speed traps and jump competitions. The transition between one event and the next felt natural, although the potential for someone to delay the starts by not turning up on time has the potential to frustrate.

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It took a while to get used to the handling, but once I had mastered the drifting, I was sending my Porsche 911 flying round corners with ease. The handling sits somewhere between the pure arcade feel of Burnout and the realism of Forza. All of this action was shown at a fast and stable frame rate, with the cars having clearly received a lot of attention to detail.

Need For Speed is in safe hands. Most Wanted builds on what has come before, leveraging innovations that Criterion have previously made. Fans of the series have plenty to look forward to when it’s released in late October.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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