Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Having won the Best Driving Game of 2012 at the Spike Video Game awards and the 2013 Best British Game and Best Online Multiplayer at the 2013 BAFTA Awards, it would be so easy to categorize NFS: Most Wanted as a critically acclaimed game, put it on your must-play list, then move on to the next entry. But just putting down those awards does not do justice to how impressive this new generation reboot of the classic NFS title truly is. Development of the game has been handled by Criterion Games, which means that we once again get to see the same stylish and adrenaline infused driving styles we have seen in Hot Pursuit and later on, in Rivals.
Unlike most driving games, Most Wanted features a real-time open world that a player explores (similar to Criterion's Burnout Paradise and NFS Hot Pursuit). For those who have just started playing the series this is a huge departure from the usual "menu to race track" approach of most racing games. Here, players have the opportunity to drive around the fictional urban sprawls of Fairhaven. It is a bustling city which has a beachfront area, an industrial zone, a commercial area, and more -and players will be able to explore every single street and side passage that they can squeeze a car into. All races and events will be held within this same city -and that means being familiar with the roads is going to give you an edge over the competition.
To race other drivers or get into chases and trigger other events, players simply have to go to marked points in the map (much like an open world RPG). Moving from an open world to the more confined routes of a race feels natural and organic -you get into events in real time and you have to race opponents in varying time and weather conditions (usually dictated by the in-game time that you triggered an event).
This is not a typical 'cop car' kind of game -in the sense that you are not the one sitting on the cop car. Instead, you are the one trying to get away. This is pretty odd since Hot Pursuit, which was released earlier than Most Wanted, allowed the players to play the role of the law enforcers. Still, the experience is plenty of fun and quite thrilling. This is because during regular races, there is a high chance that cops will get deployed, and they will try to run you down. This makes race events all the more thrilling, as you do not only have to contend with other racers in order to fight for the pole position, but you must also evade the cops as well.
This game has to be one of the most extreme ways to play cops and robbers. Unlike most Battlefield games where militarized forces are in conflict, Hardline presents a more domestic and urban-scale approach to combat: a street war between the cops and the gangs. But as with all Battlefield games, the weapons and vehicles you get access to have been ramped up to the extreme. There are plenty of amazing combat modes that will force players on either side of the conflict to make full use of weapons, ordinances, vehicles, and the environment itself, to order to secure a victory.
As one can imagine, the game modes in Hardline are more in line with the urban warfare theme -with heists, car chases, and various forms of VIP targeting used in clever ways. Heist is probably one of the more ingenious modes that requires as the cop team attempts to intercept the team of criminals transferring money from a source to their extraction point. Blood Money is a massive favorite for players who want to jump straight into combat -with both the cops and criminals trying to seize money from each other. Rescue and Crosshair modes are all about having a VIP to protect during the match.
Our favorite mode, and one that a lot of players are happy about, is Hotwire. In this mode, the criminal team will not only capture cars, but steal them and drive them to a special location. The cops are tasked with stopping the criminals and taking back the cars. It's a crazy two way car chase that will actually have moments of the criminals trying to chase the cars who have managed to take back a stolen vehicle. It is a crazy amount of fun to play, and the fact that it forces players to make use of both combat and driving skills makes it even more exciting.
The game does have an interesting single player campaign that involves a detective tracking down drugs and gangs in the city. The story would later involve corruption in the police force and would thus allow the player to experience what combat is like against criminals and law enforcers. It is nicely paced, but it is also the kind of plot you would expect to see from a Steven Seagal movie.
Naturally, like all other Battlefield games before it, the real draw of the game comes from the multiplayer matches -and here is where players will find themselves consistently improving and polishing their combat skills. The whole mix of FPS and vehicle combat has been a longtime staple of the developers and it shows in how well the two combat methods manage to seamless weld together in the game.
Expect battles between experienced players to be amazingly fun to watch and fast paced as all sort of strategies and team plays come to life. There are a myriad of ways to be able to bring down a VIP, or effectively set an ambush near the money truck, of be able to drive off with a stolen car while trying to avoid enemy gunfire. The best part of it all is that with this game, you get to experience them firsthand.
Need for Speed Rivals
Undeniably our favorite game in the NFS series, Rivals brings out the best that we have seen from Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, and then some. The game starts off with you getting to see smashcuts of news that detail what appears to be a tumultuous balance between the police and the underground racer community in Redview County. Right from the get go, you are introduced to the two-pronged story viewpoints that are available to play: cop or racer.
It may seem like a major story decision at first, but the reality is that you can actually change roles at any point in the game. Of course, the context of the story changes depending on which side you are currently playing, and each storyline will progress individually of each other (you can choose to completely finish a whole route before beginning the other). The general gameplay controls remain the same for both routes, so learning to drive in this game is a standard skill that applies to all. But the cars handle differently, the mission objectives are different, and of course, the vehicles differ between the cops and the racers.
As a cop, players are provided with pre-set options for vehicles. Specs are standardized, and the only thing you can modify with a car are minor aesthetic things and the weapon payload you carry (yes, there are weapons, but more on that later). Each car model made available to the police comes in three variants: enforcer, undercover, and patrol. Patrol variants are well rounded with stats. Enforcers have high ramming strength and good armor, and lastly undercover cars allow you to sneak up on racers with triggering a sudden chase and have a decent amount of stats. Since each police type changes with car priorities, they way they are optimally driven varies as well. Making money as a cop is easy, you are never penalized, no matter what you do on the roads. And the moment you have enough cash, you just need to buy the next car on the tier above your current one. There are no additional expenses to worry about (other than the weapon payload).
Racers have a lot more to worry about -especially at the start. While doing events and other things on the road will earn you money, getting in a crash will instantly reset that amount to zero. You need to constantly drive back to your hideout in order to bank the money you currently have. However, the fastest way to earn money is to increase your notoriety (which adds a multiplier to your earnings), this in turn, increases the amount of cops trying to run you down. The high-risk, high-reward style of gameplay for racers is not only reflective of how they exist in the game, but also with their gameplay: racers need more cash than cops. Aside from buying new cars that they unlock as the story progresses, racers also need to invest on upgrades. A single car can have a huge number of upgrades, and it is crucial that players select a favorite car per tier to invest their money on (as opposed to spreading out upgrades across too many vehicles). A single maxed out race car can even beat the most expensive un-upgraded vehicle in its tier.
The game's multiplayer is an amazing experience -players can choose to play as either a cop or a racer, and the game's open world approach means that players get to experience some crazy car chases. And this is in between the different events that players may choose to trigger -so it is actually possible to be patrolling as a cop, suddenly getting into a chase against a racer-player, then smashing down an AI-controlled racer that a different player cop is chasing, and then get back on the chase against your original target.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
Hot Pursuit was the first time that longtime game developers Criterion was given the helm on the famous NFS franchise. Prior to this, they had a huge amount of success with their amazing, arcade style, smash-and-drift racing game series, Burnout. Hot Pursuit is considered by many as the spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise with the very similar approach of having an open world for players to move around in and a very seamless exploration and event participation system. This is despite the fact that Hot Pursuit is a reboot of a game in the NFS series released back in 1998.
Hot Pursuit allows players to play as a cop or a racer and sets what would be the foundation for Rivals' style of gameplat. Hot Pursuit's driving and chase mechanics are downright solid -giving players a true pedal to the metal kind of action right from the get go. The idea is that players should be able to experience the world are crazy speeds while trying to bring down their opponent's vehicles, or trying to get away from it all.
Without a doubt, playing as a cop is a lot more fun for Burnout veterans while playing as a racer is designed for NFS fans. As cops, players have powerful and beefy cars; strong, high torque vehicles that are designed to rush up to targets and then ram them down. Racers are all about speed -the ability to get out of tight spots as fast as they can.
Smashing up targets is not as easy as it was on Burnout's takedown system (though something similar is in play in Hot Pursuit), but it is still a lot more ramming-based than anything most NFS players have seen so far. But a player's familiarity with the previous games should not dictate their preferences. Regardless if you are a former Burnout or NFS fan, trying out both sides of the game is certainly well worth it thanks to the amazing way that the game is set up.
There are no fixed paths or clogged up menus for players to deal with. Instead, like Burnout Paradise, the events and races that you can participate in are scattered all over the open world just waiting for you to drive up to them. In between are jumps and other cool things to try out.