Need for Speed Most Wanted
Released back in 2012, NFS Most Wanted is Criterion's take on the original 2005 NFS classic of the same name. Being a Criterion game, however, makes it a lot more inspired by Burnout Paradise than Most Wanted -and that is what makes this game so fun to play, big open world, lot of challenges, plenty of race events, and of course, more than enough car chases to make Luc Besson a happy man.
While the title is all about being the most wanted and getting chased down by the cops, most of your gameplay will actually be composed of racing other racers to earn parts which will make you fast enough to beat other racers which then earns you better parts which you can use to leave the cops in the dust, do you follow us so far?
The streets of Fairhaven look nice and neat, but these roads are home to some of amazing racers, a lot of wonderful cars, and of course, cops that will try and chase you down. The game provides 3 basic event types: races (circuits and sprints), speed runs, and the most naturally occurring one of all, ambushes. The first two are simple: get to the finish line real fast. But for ambushes, this means that you have cops chasing you down and you have got to run.
Despite the fact that the game requires you to be constantly online, The Crew has a pretty good single player storyline for people to follow. In it, protagonist Alex Taylor is framed by a dirty cop for the murder of his brother and is later released on the condition that he helps convict the dirty cop as well as investigate the reason for his brother's death. It's a pretty nice backdrop story that feels reminiscent of old-school cop and robber dramas, and it will have players cruising from the coast to coast -literally.
The biggest feature of The Crew is its in-game map: a persistent online world that recreates the major highways of the United States, allowing players to travel across 6 major cities and plenty of smaller locations. It is huge, vast, and a great way to go on a virtual road trip (there are long expanses of just you, the open road, and the amazing scenery). In between, players can have races and other events. Here, they can form teams, or 'crews', in order to participate in certain events.
Our favorite feature of the game is actually not in-game per se, but its impressive companion app for the iOS and Android which not only allows you to access your account details, but also serves as a digital garage where you can upgrade and modify the cars you own.
Taking a step away from the traditional large scale, politically charged, war-based themes of previous Battlefield games, Hardline is all about urban combat and warfare. The main storyline is an interesting story about local Miami police detectives investigating a new drug that inevitably opens up a more complex plot that involves large scale drug wars and corrupt officers.
But the real charm of this game lies in its multiplayer mode. Here, players take on the role of either the gangs or the cops and engage in various PVP engagements. Most notable are the 5 new features especially designed for Hardline: Heist, Blood Money, Hotwire, Rescue, and Crosshair.
Hotwire is a particularly cool mode where the players on the criminal side must steal certain cars -this is more than just a chase against the players on the SRU (special response unit) however, as the SRU must not only stop the criminals, but also take the cars back. It is a crazy form of CTF meets racing meets FPS and is our favorite mode in the whole game. While vehicle usage has always been a feature of Battlefield, the different steering and driving controls of Hardline makes it a cut above the rest in terms of overall car performance and handling. Each vehicle truly feels like a different kind of mechanical beast ready to take on the urban jungle.
Need for Speed Rivals
Need for Speed Rivals focuses heavily on the presence of illegal street racers and the cops that chase after them. In fact, most of the game revolves around players engaging in events where the two sides clash together. As cops, player missions are all about getting to certain locations as fast as possible without taking damage, or in being able to take down racers. Our favorite cop mode involves getting involved with an existing race -and you will have to take down all the racers before they reach the finish line. The coolest part about this mode is that even if you fail the event and one of the racers manages to finish the race, you can still chase after that errant racer and take them down. For the most part, it is easier to get better cars and earn money as cops.
On the opposite side of the scale are the racers -playing as one requires both skills and patience. As a racer, you will have to defeat other rival racers on the road on large or one-on-one races, but during all of that, you will also need to contend with cops as well. It is not uncommon for players to get chased down by cops in the middle of the race, and the presence of the lawmakers can certainly turn a sure-win event into a very tight race. While racers have more chances to lose money, they have access to upgrades and other features that would allow them to gain access to cars that are faster than anything that cops have.
Need for Speed the Run
The titular "Run" in this classic NFS installment refers to a massive race that spans almost 5000 kilometers. It is literally a tour across the United States from the west coast (San Francisco), to the east (New York). Players take on the role of Jack Rourke as he takes on this race, 200 rival drivers, and the continued pursuit of both the cops and the mob. It is a pretty crazy storyline told in a series of smaller race events. For the most part, race events come in two basic variants. The first is a typical race where getting first place is a must. The other kind are more of combat and survival events where Jack must manage to evade his pursuers.
Compared to Most Wanted and Rival, The Run is a little more mellow and toned down. But it is still plenty of fun to play. Regardless if you are trying to get past opponents on ta tight turn or are trying to psych out the cops grinding close to your tail, The Run has plenty of amazingly memorable gameplay moments that players will certainly enjoy. Visually, the game does feel a little dated having been released back in 2011, but the detailing and rendering of the cars is as impressive as ever.
Driver San Francisco
On the surface, Driver San Francisco is a pretty cool chase movie involving agents chasing after a bad guy. However, there is more to the game than just fast paced driving and car chases, it is also a bit of a sci-fi story. As it turns out, both the protagonist and antagonist have a special ability called shift. When used, they can transfer their consciousness to another person. This comes into the gameplay as a pretty quick shifting ability which allows the players to instantly move around different cars and different locations seamlessly. This makes chases and other in-game driving events interesting to play as you are no longer limited to just using a single car. Instead, you can keep switching around different cars without having to abandon your mission.
The game presents a very faithful recreation of San Francisco's main roads and even goes all the way to parts of Bay Bridge, Marin County, and Oakland. If you are familiar with these roads in real life, it gets rather interesting to see them shown in a videogame. Thanks to the fact that Driver SF now features licensed vehicles, the visuals are so much better and more exciting to see -which was a big letdown in the previous installments where most cars looked obviously made up.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
NFS Hot Pursuit marked the beginning of a new era of NFS games, and not surprisingly, this is the first time Criterion worked on the series. The result is nothing short of stellar, and even with this game already having been released back in 2010, it has managed to age pretty well, with its PS3, PC, and Xbox 360 incarnations still being some of the best racing games of all time.
Hot Pursuit, as the title suggests, provides players with plenty of chase events where they must either play as a cop hunting down racers, or as a racer trying to evade the law. The game's balance is well controlled, with cop cars being given heavier and tougher frames while racers are more focused on getting speed. Players must use these differences in order to gain an edge during racing events -with cop cars being able to take a good amount of punishment while racers rely on keeping their distance.
Much like the other NFS games that would come after it, Hot Pursuit introduces an open world that the player can traverse: Seacrest County, which is full of rival racers and cop cars all waiting for the player to challenge them.
This is where Criterion Games' best game series reached it peak and also set the stage for the new era of NFS games: Burnout Paradise. Sunny paradise city is full of random cars, busy intersections, crazy jump locations, and of course, dozens of race events for players to participate in. It is an open world environment designed to make you want to start the most massive crashes you can drive away from (or not).
Of course, all that mayhem will get you in trouble with the police, and the game's cops and robbers mode will have you steering as hard and as fast as you can through the busy city streets in order to make it out in one piece. Aside from all the new race modes, Crash Mode has been updated into Showtime and now gives players a chance to drive out of the mayhem they cause (provided that the car is still in decent shape).
While it is generally accepted that the new NFS games serve as spiritual successors to Burnout, Paradise is the last game where you can truly and freely take down other vehicles one after another, making it not only the last, but also the best Burnout game ever.
Grand Theft Auto 4
Players take on the role of Nico Bellic, an eastern European immigrant of Slavic descent trying to make it in the tough streets of Liberty City. But getting used to a new world is not easy, especially when it is full of thugs, criminals, and dirty cops -so Nico must take his fate into his own hands and literally blast his way through any obstacle that gets in his way. Rockstar's first foray into the HD world with GTA4 is one of the best games for the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation -and it still is. It features a lot of context based animations that have been reduced in GTA5, and Nico Bellic is one of the most charming and interesting protagonists we have seen in the series.
As great as a character Nico is, being in his shoes is tough. Cops are pretty much everywhere in Liberty City. And while you might be able to get away with jacking a car or two, performing several unlawful acts will quickly get the attention of cops -who will swarm you with everything they got. The chases in GTAIV as some of the most fun gaming moments we have ever had, and as the chase prolongs, players gain more notoriety and even tougher cops join the chase. Of course, you don't need to spend every moment in this vast open world as a criminal -but the option is always there.
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
This game brings players to the bright and sunny world of San Andreas, with its fast cars, fancy digs, and crazy lifestyle. But there is also a darker side to this city, and players to see it firsthand when they step into the shoes of CJ, who, just having returned from a 5 year stay in Liberty City, now finds himself framed for a murder. Now CJ must find his old friends, make new allies, and establish a new gang to take back the streets from the rivals and gain enough power to clear himself from a crime he did not commit.
In typical GTA style gaming, San Andreas is an open world -you go anywhere you want and do anything you want. Of course, the world is alive, and it will react to you -so mind the consequences of your actions. If you pick a fight with random strangers, they might choose to run away or fight back. Boost a car and you might just end up getting chased down by the cops. It is a dog eat world out there and players have to be fast on their feet because quick thinking and good reflexes is usually what saves the day. Oh, take what we said about actions and consequences seriously -if you feed CJ too many pizzas and burgers, he will start gaining some unsightly weight, and that is a great example of how immersive this open world is.
Grand Theft Auto Vice City
The world of Vice City is not for the faint of heart. This game brings players back to the the heart of the 80's where big hair, muscle cars, and loud colors were all the rage. The game follows the story of Tommy Vercetti, who was sent by the Mafia in Liberty City to perform certain tasks in VC. As players progress through the various story missions in the game, they learn more and more about the shady workings that keeps the lights burning in this city of decadence, sin, and luxury. Players will have to deal with dirty cops, mob fights, the occasional car chase, and more as they fight their way to the top of Vice City's underground.