There you are, speeding through the city of Fairhaven, taking corners sideways to the sound of screeching rubber and Dubstep; red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. You pull your handbrake, taking a sharp right turn onto a dirt-track, leaving a trail of dust in your wake. So you push the car to its limits, with the police still hot on your tail, and head towards a natural ramp in the track.
Everything is already a blur, but you need more speed, so you hit the Nitrous Oxide. The sudden burst of acceleration pins you to the back of your seat as you hit the ramp; you take flight and smash through the billboard, containing your friend's smug face. Sparks fly as you land and when you look back you see the police cruisers upturned on the concrete.
To your right is a repair station, so you swing your back end around and cruise through it; changing your car from electric-blue to a chrome-like silver, and evading the police in the process. Race finished. Yet you still aren't top of your friends list, you missed out by milliseconds, which is ironic really, because you have been doing the same race for three hours and not realised.
NFS:MW is a time sink, and I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just so addicting. I would say it's the most "connected" game ever, your friends list is omnipresent: it shows you who ranks where on each event, how many attempts it took them, who went through each speed camera the fastest, who is the best at evading the police... the list goes on.
If you have a competitive streak and are connected to the internet, this game is a must-buy. Even if you are not necessarily a racing fan, you will still find much to enjoy. The handling takes some getting used to, each little directional nudge takes your car in the desired direction in a pendulum-like swing, this is no-doubt to help maintain speed in drifts through corners and once you get used to it, it feels completely natural.
The aforementioned police chases are tense and exciting, the police themselves can be a bit relentless at times, often committing harakiri in their pursuit; which only adds to the crazy fun unfolding all around you. You can literally just have fun driving around the free-roaming city of Fairhaven, enjoying evading the police.
The city is completely open from the start, and so are all the cars. The vehicles are dotted around the city and you only have to drive up and tap a button to switch into one. Once you have been in a car you can use it from the Easydrive menu. The Easydrive menu is accessed from the directional pad, and lets you change things like: car, parts, game mode and also allows you to access multiplayer. All of this is done without leaving the track.
This new style of openness is fantastic, the keyword is "fun" and nobody will beat you just because they have grinded their way up to a beast of a car. It's a game about skill, fun and getting your backside kicked by that one person who is phenomenal at the game (cough, Timmy). The game just gives you great feedback with everything you do, and you will keep coming back for more, you will keep trying to beat Timmy and you will keep failing.
The game reminds me of Burnout: Takedown, which was my favourite driving game, up until now. This is no coincidence, they both share the same developer; Criterion Games. Criterion really know their stuff when it comes to racing games, each iteration taking the best parts from its back-catalogue to make the best game possible. Much like in Burnout: Takedown, you can smash your rivals up and the police; your reward for doing so is an injection of Nitrous Oxide.
The online modes in particular encourage this sort of tomfoolery. The online races usually start with everyone making their way to the race start, and upon reaching it, the game turns into a destruction derby of sorts, with everyone trying to damage their opponents before the race. Once the countdown to the race starts you can also make a false start, leaving your opponents behind. You aren't disqualified for this sort of behaviour, it is actively encouraged.
The online races can be anything, from recording the longest distance on a set of jumps, to averaging the best speed around the track. Trying to keep your head when another player gets a grudge against you certainly gets the adrenaline pumping. The game still looks great online too and in my time with it I never noticed any dropping in performance.
The game is running on the same engine that powers Battlefield 3 and it's one hell of a looker. Everything looks clean and shiny. The streets of Fairhaven are soaked in perpetual sunshine and the roads are soaked in your tears. It's rather strange that there are pools of water on each road, but they sure do make them look pretty.
If you only own one racing game this generation I suggest you make it this one. There are a multitude of game types and if you have many petrol-heads on your friends list you will be able to enjoy the massively competitive nature of the game. If you play it relentlessly and master the tracks, one day you may even beat Timmy.
- Palpable sense of speed.
- Great online.
- Very connected.
- Looks beautiful.
- Not as good if you want an offline experience.
- Police can be relentless.