The Need for Speed. An element of humanity and a falsehood all at once. What does it mean to go fast? Can you touch it? Can you taste it? No, yet it is something that humans have adored for time immemorial. Criterion hopes to bring us that feeling without having to purchase a high-end sports car. Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 is part of Criterion's reboot of the franchise. Some were disappointed by their last outing, but there may be hope for this title. Most Wanted 2 promises to have all the best of the original with all the best of new technology.
The original Most Wanted, considered by many to be a hallmark of the racing genre, was a supreme game in its own right. When it was released, it was hailed as one of, if not, the best Need for Speed game of all time. Why? It had a winning formula. You take the heritage of racing that the series has popularized, combine it with a large city to free roam, and slap on magnificent racing gameplay that the series is known for, and hey presto, you've got a hit game. Most Wanted 2 looks to do the same, albeit with an updated roster of cars and high quality DirectX 11 visual effects.
After some analysis of the trailer that Criterion has released, I have high hopes for Most Wanted 2. It looks to keep the same formula of free-roaming racers versus the police. It was one of the best elements of the first game, and as long as that isn't tainted, Most Wanted 2 will be inducted into the annals of simulation racing yore. Some might say that their reboot of Hot Pursuit was lacking the pizzazz of the first, or perhaps it was something else. Not much can be said for Most Wanted 2 at this point, other than what is seen in the trailer. So, let's have a look shall we?
The first thing that is noticed upon starting the trailer, at least for me, is the clever little ESRB sticker that says this game is not yet rated. How interesting. After that, a cityscape can be seen in the background of what appears to be a construction yard. Those who played Most Wanted should find that somewhat familiar. After that, a man with a British accent informs us that "they" are unrestricted by rules, possibly those of the city's police. A cut to another shot reveals a refinery, or possibly a power plant, followed by a quick blur of a yellow sports car, which I approximate to be a Spyker. A woman's voice then says something, most likely unimportant. After that, a shot of five rather sporty vehicles is shown, barreling down a civilian highway. From left to right, we have an Aston Martin DBS, a Lamborghini Reventon, Aventador, or Murcielago, its somewhat hard to tell, in the middle is a Porsche 911, then a Dodge Challenger, and lastly a Ford Velociraptor F-150. A fairly formidable line up of vehicles I must say.
After a brief span with nothing too important, a shot of numerous, possibly civilian traffic, vehicles is shown driving along a road cutting through the middle of a downtown section of the city. It should be noted that many of the vehicles are exactly the same, likely due to the footage coming from early versions of the game. A train station forms the most prominent aspect of the shot, although upon closer inspection there is what appears to be a club, an Italian restaurant, and a mom-and-pop appliance store. One curious sign happens to denote "Rockport Loans", which indicates that the city previously mentioned is, in fact, Rockport, the stage of the original game. Then, the aforementioned vehicles can be seen weaving through traffic and cutting through a construction/refinery yard while some neat particle effects simulate dirt being accumulated on the vehicles. The next shot is very quick, but may have real meaning. It shows the Challenger barreling through a fence while being chased by two police SUV's. While it doesn't sound significant, it may point to the free roaming nature of the first game returning in the reboot.
The next shot is a time-lapse of a construction yard, which shows machinery operating and the sun moving its position in the sky. This seems to point to both dynamic environments and a day/night cycle, something the original did not feature. Lens flare is also seen, indicative of the upgrade in graphical effects. Police are then seen giving chase to the Porsche, navigating through streets to get to the car, which was not moving with much aplomb, hopefully another indicator that free roam will return. The police vehicles then smash into the Porsche, and although extremely brief, accurate damage can be seen on the car. Black striations appear on the paneling, and there is a significantly large crunch in the side panel. The rear bumper is also somewhat dislodged after the run in. The next shot shows the police chasing the vehicles through another refinery-type area, again, hopefully indicative of free roam. Significant damage can be seen on the windshields and paneling of both the police cars and the racer vehicles, helping to fuel the accuracy of the game's portrayal of street racing and its dangers.
Then, some more racing through a construction yard is observed, as well as a quick look at a skyscraper, although that doesn't seem too significant, at least to me. The vehicle being pursued, the Challenger, then hits a ramp and jumps across a road with various police vehicles in tow. In the background, more of the refinery can be seen as well as a police roadblock, which points to dynamic free roam, as that was a feature in the original game. There is some more racing through streets, a civilian vehicle is seen, and then the F-150 rams through a police roadblock, one of the aspects of the first game. Nitrous, a hallmark of the series, is also seen as blue flames lick at the exhaust of the Porsche. After that, the only thing left of significance is a large volume of police vehicles chasing after the five cars mentioned above. What could the five cars represent? Are they members of the Blacklist, or is it supposed to note cooperative play?
After viewing the trailer multiple times, I can say with confidence that I have high hopes for this game. As long as Criterion sticks to the original formula, this will be a hit game that no one should miss. Until then, we are left with numerous questions. Why keep the game in Rockport? What enhancements are being added to the police department? How is the racing aspect of the game being handled? Is there free roam? All of these will be answered in time, so stay here on GD to keep up with the latest news and announcements. Be sure to check out the trailer for yourself as well.