RSOblivion brings us his thoughts on Need for Speed's latest incarnation.
By RSOblivion on November 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm
Here at games.on.net, we know that one review isn’t always enough — and that’s why, when RSOblivion came to us with his thoughts on Need for Speed: Most Wanted, we couldn’t help but put them up as well. With both this and our official review to read through, there’s more NFS:MW than you could ever need. Take a look. If you’re interested in submitting a soapbox article, check here for more information.
When I was younger, I remember the feeling I had waiting for the release of the next Need For Speed game. It all started with Hot Pursuit, a game I loved and put tons of effort into, learning how to get the best times out of the tracks. It was simple and unashamed in its love of cars, something I really appreciated. A bit further on there was Underground 1 and 2 which hooked me from the moment I played them, followed by Most Wanted.
These three really were the top of the core series in my opinion, all having covered the bases of fun and customisation pretty well. Most Wanted had one of the better storylines, whereas the Undergrounds had the customisation and handling.
However things change and recently the franchise had a mix of dire and different games. The Shift games were a tilt at some semi-realistic circuit racing which was a large departure from the unrestrained nature of the series, while Black Box lost the plot with Undercover and The Run. Criterion then stepped in with Hot Pursuit 2010 which was close to being good, but marred by a heavily rubber banding AI, odd car handling and quicktime events.
So without further ado, here’s my thoughts on Most Wanted for 2012.
It’s Frostbite 2, so there are a few things people need to know about this engine before jumping straight in. It needs both a good CPU and GPU to run properly. Its primarily driver dependant and suffers from poor frame buffering, so even on top-end GPU/CPU combinations it has pretty average FPS results.
Make sure you disable vsync, as that limits the game to 30FPS and makes it more choppy rather than smooth, due to the console-to-PC port. Anything below an AMD/ATi 6950 or nVidia GTX 560Ti and you won’t hit 60 FPS. 7970′s and GTX680′s will make mincemeat of the gfx in this as they are less demanding than Battlefield 3 or Medal of Honour Warfighter (let’s not mention The Run…).
Having played a ton of Shift 2 and Project CARS, I was very disappointed with the car models. I am used to seeing a good 3D model, and there are so many faults on these its worrying. Badly drawn corners and curves which really damage some of the cars lines (especially the front of the Porsches and the back of the Mercedes SLS). They look like they were lifted straight out of Hot Pursuit 2010 which suffered the same issue. This is not going to be a game-breaker for most players but when you have a decent PC under you and you see levels of detail that are 4-5 years old for the models, it makes you wonder how much is a copy/paste job.
The world graphics on the other hand are fantastic — they look absolutely stunning and give a great gritty urban sprawl feel. Some areas feel like Japanese mountains, while the industrials look and feel epic, and the general quality on offer here is great. This is where they really pushed the engine to use all its various features: like water reflections, controlled HDR bloom which actually feels like sunlight and very believable day/night transitions.
I’ll start with physics — this is so consoley it’s not funny. I say consoley in that the game features auto-braking, and turning even slightly slows the cars down too much. The developers really should have taken a note or two from Shift 2 in how to allow a car to turn properly — even Underground 1 was better than this. As for jumping, well it’s a mix of too heavy and too light. Sometimes you go flying (especially the AI) and others you just don’t make something that’s relatively easy. Cars often feel confused in grip levels too, one minute you are on dry tarmac and drifting endlessly, next you are on sopping wet tarmac and gripping like a F1 car with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel. It’s almost like the properties for Wet and Dry are mixed up, or the engine doesn’t pick up on the flags for these properly.
Oh and a minor annoyance: when in a tunnel and it’s damp outside the tunnel, you get spray off the wheels if drifting in the tunnel.
One separate area that I should note here is that I’d prefer if damage in the game was more realistic. Hit a plastic bin for example and it won’t KO your car, but hit a lamppost and it should! I know the original suspended reality for this but that was on a much inferior engine. This engine has the capability to model everything pretty well. It also has the ability to move around as a player (see Battlefield 3) so why did they limit it to just cars? I’d love to get out and go into the underground auto shop to get parts for my SL65 AMG Black Edition — a missed opportunity, I feel.
The races themselves are very repetitive, although you expect that to a degree when there are only five races for each car that are the same each time. The only different ones are the Black List cars which feels like lazy design — even the original had over 100 different races outside the 15 Black List cars. Criterion seem to have dropped the ball badly here compared to previous iterations, which is very worrying for the future of the franchise.
Awesome. Fantastic. Criterion really spent the dollars on making the cars sound right with the loud SLS and the ear splitting Ariel, it’s just car audio porn. The turbos whistle and the superchargers whine as you’d want, but they have that great depth of sound often lost in translation to a video game. Audio is easily this games strongest area, and even the different sound effects for jumping, landing and crashing through the different types of scenery are modelled well and the directional audio shows it off perfectly.
Use an XBox 360 gamepad if you’re playing on the PC. Keyboard works too, but the game is setup and balanced for the XBox pad. Using other pads will need a bit of configuring to make work as well. Better setups with wheels and pedals are a total waste for this though.
I’ve been very critical of a lot of aspects of the game above, and because I was looking in detail at them (probably more detail than I’ve written) it may give an impression I don’t like the game. That’s not true. I do like it — it’s a lot of fun, and makes The Run and Hot Pursuit 2010 look like a pair of Suzukis at a second hand car lot. It’s almost back to the area of Underground/Most Wanted 1, where the franchise hit a sweet spot of fun, mods and racing, with good handling, but it just falls short with the errors I mentioned.
Most Wanted is so close to being great, and it’s a pity that EA didn’t give them the time to get the full range of features it deserved. In its current release state, I’d give it a ¾ of a chilli!