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Need for Speed Most Wanted U

Need for Speed

Need for Speed: Most Wanted U is an exemplary port, showing the way it ought to be done amidst a slew of lazy conversions onto the new tech. Criterion have gone the distance with their latest iteration on last year’s best racing game and have fashioned the finest version yet and also the first must have racing title on the platform.

The original release of Most Wanted found Criterion building out an experience true to the standard of their Burnout franchise with a name that would sell. They accomplished this handily, creating the racing equivalent to the caliber of work Dice have accomplished in the FPS space. Once again, they set the tone for future genre entries and by returning to the development fold, they’ve found sufficent ways of making it new.

Most Wanted U is deeply redesigned around the Wii U’s feature set. Off-screen play is perfectly suited for the approachability of the original design, which remains entirely intact, with new features aplenty ratcheted on since. It’s an ideal title to play off the screen and is the first game that’s truly sold us on what the Wii U console experience can offer in this sense. It owes much of this success to the nature of the relaxed party-like structure of the online play and robust social integration of Autolog.

Other significant features include a casualization of the core contents that’s very welcome. While playing on-screen, there are sorts of ‘god mode’ features which can expand the experience through several improvements. There’s the ability to turn off all traffic, switch between day and night, and importantly, the ability to disrupt impending cop chases (their difficulty being a chief complaint for many in the original design).

Fairhaven’s also plotted out elegantly over the gamepad, allowing for fast touch access to races, a clear map that details jack spots for cars, among other features which lifts Need for Speed: Most Wanted U into the status of the most accessible racing game.

The technical aspects are also a major point of favor, mostly. The Wii U version retains the same quality of textures as the PC version and better lighting than prior console releases. It’s clearly the finest looking game Criterion have released on consoles and these relatively minor tune-ups are helpful in further advancing the character of the city. The only thing that gets in the way is Nintendo’s reliance on digital input (as opposed to analogue), which is a fair disadvantage for Racing.

Most Wanted U holds the status of the best entry and furthers the accessibility of the formula in meaningful ways. In a time where Wii U ports are looking increasingly cheap and unnecessary, Criterion gets it right and much like they’ve always done for the racing genre, have set the standard for all others to follow.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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