Need For Speed: Most Wanted for the Xbox 360 was a launch title for the then next-generation console. Much like GUN, is was a cross-generational game. Back in 2005, it was the latest in the hugely successful Need For Speed franchise, and for Electronic Arts it offered a chance to show what they could do with the new hardware. Above all else, there’s a real sense of speed.

As the ninth title in the Need for Speed series – which back in 2005 was riding high, Need For Speed: Most Wanted didn’t really have too much to prove. It was bound for success. Here on the Xbox 360 however, it was a showcase piece for Electronic Arts. It was the only title in the publisher’s launch line-up that wasn’t a sports franchise – FIFA, Madden and Tiger Woods PGA Tour rounding up the series – and one that could really demonstrate the visual clout of the new hardware.

In the game, players take part in illegal street races across an open world setting. Licensed real-world cars can be upgraded and customised, and racing events feature circuit, point-to-point, checkpoint, sprint and drag races. All of this is taken part in while the police try to prevent you from doing so. This isn’t Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, though. You won’t be taking on the role of law enforcement yourself.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) screenshot

In a Pursuit, Speed is both the Problem and the Answer

There’s all manner of things players can do which will get the attention of the police. Chief among them is of course speeding. When this happens, the focus shifts. While you must still try to win your event, you’ll be doing so while also attempting to escape police vehicles.

To do so you must watch your Heat level. Heat accumulates from committing further offences and continually evading capture by the police. This is of course your only option, as if you get caught a ‘busted’ screen will end your race. However, with higher levels of heat the police will be more aggressive, from employing tools such as roadblocks and spike strips to bring your run to an end.

Need more Speed?

As well as the aforementioned upgrades, Need for Speed: Most Wanted provides a number of tactics you can employ to get a bit more juice from your vehicle. It’s commonly known that manual gearboxes allow you to push your engine further – both in video games and the real-world – and Need for Speed: Most Wanted makes special effort to afford this bonus to beginners. There are screen prompts which tell you the best time to shift gears. There’s no need to be constantly checking the rev meter. Even then, the meter is conveniently positioned just in your field of vision on the left hand side of the screen, rather in the bottom right of the screen as in other games.

There is also a Nitro feature in place, which you definitely need to use lots to win the races. When you do so the car and edges of the screen blur slightly. It’s an effect designed to really give you the feel of driving really, really fast. This concept wasn’t exactly new back in 2005, but thanks to the Xbox 360 console it had never looked quite so good.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) screenshot

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Remake

At launch it was generally considered that If you enjoyed previous Need For Speed games, then chances are you would like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, too. The game received acclaim from critics and became a huge commercial success, selling 16 million copies worldwide across all formats. This lead to a remake in 2012, headed up by none other than BurnOut‘s Criterion Games. This new edition retained much of what made the 2005 original so popular. And rightly so, as Need for Speed: Most Wanted still feels fresh 18 years later.

Categories: Games