I’ve been a fan of Need For Speed since the very first game was released many, many years ago now. I still own numerous versions on various platforms and although the quality of the games has varied throughout the years, Need For Speed Most Wanted stands out as the one game in the bunch that I really love (still have the original PC game discs). When I heard that a new Most Wanted game was in the works, I was naturally excited. Need For Speed has always been at its best running from the police and EA announced it would also be released on the Android platform.
You may ask why the Android platform is so important. For me, it’s simple really. With a growing family, the time I have available to dedicate to gaming has decreased. While my PS3 used to rule supreme, it is now mostly used for watching children’s shows on Netflix and streaming pay per view movies from one of the available services. Most of my gaming these days is conducted on either my phone (Galaxy SII) or tablet (ASUS Transformer TF101). Of course, any version for Android won’t be as good as the PS3 version but I knew that when I saw the announcement and I was ready to trade the fun of roaming a free world with the ability to get a quick race in here and there.
Anyway, on to the game then. Prepare to wait a while before you can play once you buy. The game needs to download all the game files once you start it the first time and at 500MB, it can take a while. In the end, the game takes up almost 2GB on your device.
Once you get past the download hurdle, the fun starts. You are immediately thrown into a street race with a Dodge Challenger that walks you through all of the controls. By default, steering is done by tilting your device, a method that I think works great on a phone (on a tablet, the on-screen steering works better). Once you complete the first race, you go right into a timed race where you basically chase checkpoints. At this point, you also get access to the game map.
The game map. Whereas on the consoles, the game map is your territory to play, on the Android platform you only have access to certain locations. Each location has a set of events that are unlocked as you complete the events on the game map. Finishing races also unlocks new cars with the points you collect as well as much needed funds that lets you buy those same cars. Overall, the map isn’t brain science and is easy to figure out. You pick a race, a car and jump into the action.
The first thing that struck me while racing my first few races was how beautiful the game is. The models look nice, the streets, the buildings, etc. all look great. In fact, compared to Need For Speed Hot Pursuit that was released last year, it’s like night and day. NFSMW just looks that great. One thing I appreciate in particular is that damage to the car is shown as you crash into things. The side mirror may start hanging, for example, or the rear bumper comes loose and starts swaying with your turns. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear you can really see all of the damage until you finish the race and it also doesn’t carry over from race to race. So, no need to spend your hard-earned money for repairs. The cars have other little details as well. On cars like the 911 or the Veyron, the rear spoiler is raised when your speed increases. It may not be a big details but sometimes it’s the little details that make you appreciate a game.
For various reasons, I’ve been mostly playing the game on silent so I don’t think it would be appropriate to rate the sound or music beyond that I can tell that there’s a good sound track library as is usual with EA titles and the racing sound is pretty satisfying. The one part that stands out is definitely the police chatter. Although repetitive, listening in gives you the clues you need to avoid roadblocks, spike strips and get a heads up for the heavy duty SUVs.
The gameplay itself is also pretty good. You have access to nitro, you can drift and pick between two control schemes. I could complain that there ought to be more ways to control your car but for me, it doesn’t matter. Tilt steering on my phone is just the way I want to play this game so I frankly could care less about any other schemes. On a tablet, the on-screen steering works better but it takes some getting used to.
NFSMW, although fun, is not perfect. I would have loved the open world to contend with but at the same time i understand the limitations when you go to a mobile format. The damage modeling, while there, only affects the race you are currently in. It would have been more challenging if the damage was something you had to deal with long term. Not only would it change how you race each race but it would also change the dynamics of how you use your winnings. Which leads me to my next complaint: the mods. You can add nitro, tires with better grip, reduce the car weight and so on but unfortunately, these mods are also only available for the one race at a time. So, if you need mod to win a race (and often you do), if you don’t win you have to keep paying for the mods for every race. Of course, you can always restart the race before you get to the end if you’re lower than a position that will give you money. Regardless, it’s annoying and I’m wondering how many hundreds of thousands I spent on nitro throughout the weeks I was playing this game.
Finally, NFSMW has in app purchases as well. Fortunately, EA and/or the developer made a good decision with this particular game and left it as something that’s there if you want to spend some extra money to get nice cars and such right away but you don’t need it to finish the game. When I buy a game, that’s how I want IAP to work. Contrast this with the Theme Park debacle that came out just a few weeks ago. I loved the original Theme Park, which I played on the Amiga, so I was excited about the Android version. It was uninstalled after 30 minutes because you CANNOT get to any of the cool stuff without paying. Major fail, EA. So, EA and Firemonkey, thank you from the bottom of my heart for not ruining NFSMW this way.
If you are a NFSMW fan and you have an Android device or if you’re a racing game fan, you need to buy this game. It’s worth it, absolutely!