Need for Speed: Most Wanted was the 2005 release for the long running Need for Speed franchise from EA Games. Unlike previous titles, Most Wanted takes place during the day, and returns the police as a very real problem on the streets of the fictional city of Rockport. Most Wanted was well known for its police chases, though arguably it got more press for its FMV cutscenes, featuring live actors, than it did through anything else.
Most Wanted is frequently compared to more recent games in the series, such as Carbon, ProStreet and SHIFT. Gaming press have claimed Most Wanted to be one of the best Need for Speed games of this generation, and it is normally the game most revered by players of the series.
Gameplay in Most Wanted features a free-roaming city, like that of Underground 2. However, Most Wanted takes place during daylight rather than night. Across the city there are different types of races available to you, such as Drag and Circuit events. For the most part, Circuit races make up the main content of the racing, though there are other types of races that are encountered as well. One of the unique race events featured in Most Wanted is the 'Speed Trap' race. Along the route there are speed traps planted, and you must blitz through them at the highest possible speed. After speeding through all of the traps your total speed will be calculated, and the racer with the highest total speed is the winner. Below are all the race modes that exist in the game:
Unlike Underground, which featured no police presence, Most Wanted has a full police force that will do anything to stop street racers. Initially you will start off with basic patrol cars, but as you cause chaos you will move up the Rockport PD's 'wanted level', and more and more dangerous versions of police vehicles will arrive in an attempt to thwart your illegal efforts. In order to challenge other racers on the Blacklist and actually advance through the game, you will need to complete three different tasks set by that racer. Below is an example of the task layout:
In order to challenge the other racer you must have completed all of the tasks: Bounty, Races, and Challenges. Bounty is earned from surviving in police chases for long periods of time, and it is extremely easy to rack up a huge bounty against the highest level of police enforcement if you are a good driver. For every five seconds you stay in the pursuit you will receive money added onto your bounty. Getting caught however, will forfeit any bounty you were earning during the pursuit though. In order to ease the difficulty of the police chase, there are some locations marked around the city with red triangles, that will only appear on your mini-map during a pursuit. These markers highlight the presence of 'Pursuit Breakers', which are traps that can be used to immobilize the police. Examples of a common Pursuit Breaker include water towers - smashing through the centre of a water tower will cause it to collapse, and scaffolding. Using Pursuit Breakers effectively is absolutely vital, as a good driver can potentially be in a chase for up to, and over, an hour. Breakers will not respawn during the same chase, so strategy is needed to use them to their fullest effect.
My Cars is a mode that was added with Underground, and has made its presence in all Need for Speed games since. This mode allows the player to select a car, and then customize it with a limitless budget. Cars customized here cannot be used in Career mode, though it is a useful way of adding extra cars for use in Quick Races and Split Screen events. Cars here can be showcased and honed to perfection. In addition, you can install special parts from using the 'Burger King' challenge, which is accessed through inputting a code. These parts are known as 'Junkman' parts, and can provide a major bonus if they are installed after the Race parts for a car. My Cars features thirty slots for storing customized creations in, but they cannot be transported into your Career, so if there is a car you really like using it will have to be made again in Career mode.
The player arrives in Rockport City as a nameless street racer looking to make a name for themselves, driving a race version of the BMW M3 GTR. After first encountering a fellow street racer named Mia Townsend (Josie Maran) in a Mazda RX-8, the player is invited to race her and a friend named "Rog". After winning this race and earning some reputation, the player is pulled over by Sgt. Cross, the head of the Rockport Police Department's Street Racing Division and who drives a distinctive pursuit Chevrolet Corvette. Cross vows to arrest the player for street racing and strip down their car as soon as he can get enough evidence. The player then challenges Clarence "Razor" Callahan, who is the #15 racer on the Blacklist (a list of Rockport's fifteen most wanted street racers). After beating his cronies "Ronnie" and "Bull", the player goes up against Razor. However, Razor sabotages the player's ride, costing them the race and their car. To add insult to injury, the cops raid the finish line and everyone gets away except the player, who is arrested.
After being released due to lack of evidence (because the player no longer has a car), Mia picks the player up from the police station in Rosewood and fills them in on the situation. While the player was locked up, Razor took their car and used it to climb to the top of the Blacklist. The player must now start from scratch and work their way up by defeating each racer on the list before they can challenge Razor again. Mia helps the player choose a new car and sets them up with "safehouses" in which to lie low between races in exchange for being able to set up "side bets" on the player's races. The player then works their way up the Blacklist, earning cars, parts and Police reputation, while Cross and Razor taunt the player through phone messages.
Finally, the player challenges Razor again, on the same track as last time. After the player wins the race, Razor refuses to hand over the keys. Mia takes them from Razor anyway and when he attacks her, she subdues and handcuffs him while revealing herself as an undercover cop. As thanks for their "help" in taking down the Blacklist, Mia gives the player a headstart before calling in backup. Cross arrives and questions Mia as to the player's whereabouts (she says that the player "got away") before ordering the entire Police Department after them in a special Level Six pursuit.
After five minutes in pursuit, Mia calls the player and tells them that their only escape from Rockport is by jumping a broken bridge to Palmont City. The player makes the jump and escapes town and the Rockport Police with the car. The final cutscene shows Cross updating the player's rap sheet and adding them to the National Most Wanted list.
As mentioned above, there are 15 racers present on the Blacklist for Rockport City. Each racer has their own races, challenges, and custom car. In the table below are all the Blacklist racers, their car of choice, challenges needed, and race wins.
|Alias||Real Name||Car||Race Wins||Bounty||Challenges|
|Sonny||Ho Seun||Volkswagen Golf GTI||3||20,000||3|
|Taz||Vince Kilic||Lexus IS300||4||50,000||3|
|Vic||Victor Vasquez||Toyota Supra||4||100,000||3|
|Izzy||Isabel Diaz||Mazda RX-8||4||180,000||3|
|Big Lou||Lou Park||Mitsubishi Eclipse GT||5||300,000||3|
|Baron||Karl Smit||Porsche Cayman S||5||500,000||4|
|Earl||Eugene James||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII||5||790,000||4|
|Jewels||Jade Barrett||Ford Mustang GT||5||1,180,000||4|
|Kamikaze||Kira Nakazato||Mercedes CLK500||7||1,680,000||4|
|Ming||Hector Domingo||Lamborghini Gallardo||7||2,300,000||4|
|Webster||Wes Allen||Chevrolet Corvette C6||7||3,050,000||4|
|JV||Joe Vega||Dodge Viper SRT-10||7||4,050,000||5|
|Ronnie||Ronald McCrea||Aston Martin DB9||8||5,550,000||5|
|Bull||Toru Sato||McLaren Mercedes SLR||8||7,550,000||5|
|Razor||Clarence Callahan||BMW M3 GTR||9||10,000,000||5|
Challenge Mode in Need for Speed: Most Wanted is exactly what you would expect. There are 66 challenges available, and you can select to try them. Examples of Challenges are completing Speedtrap events with a total speed of over 1,000MPH on a certain track, or surviving in a police pursuit for 45 minutes. Challenges are unlocked through completing previous challenges, and they grow progressively harder as you advance. In the special edition of Most Wanted there are two extra challenges, featuring a special level of police hostility that can only be described as impossible.
Most Wanted was the first Need for Speed game to reach Microsoft's newest gaming platform, the Xbox 360. Most Wanted uses Microsoft's 'TrueSkill' technology to find events that theoretically will not pit a highly skilled player against a new player, should you enter Ranked Matches. The other option are Player Matches, which are unranked and are simply for the experience and fun of a race against other human players. Online, many players use cars from the 'My Cars' section with the Junkman parts installed.
Most Wanted was added to the Xbox LIVE 'Games on Demand' service for 2400 Microsoft Points, and is 6.8GB to download. If you install the disc of the game to your hard drive it will also require 6.8GB of storage space. The 360 version of the game features achievements, and is generally regarded as an easy game to earn the full 1000 Gamerpoints from, as all the achievements are unlocked through completing the story, making Multiplayer and Challenge Mode completely obsolete.
As expected from a racing game, the cars available to you at the start are less than impressive, but it does not take much progression to begin to earn some higher quality vehicles. Though beating members of the Blacklist, you will unlock new cars in the Dealership and My Cars section to purchase. Oddly though, in the My Cars section some cars are pre-unlocked before having unlocked them in the Career (the Porsche Cayman S and Lamborghini Gallardo being two of these pre-unlocked cars). Below is a table detailing all of the cars in the game, and how to unlock them:
|Make and Model||Unlock Criteria|
|Lexus IS300||Already Unlocked|
|Fiat Grande Punto||Already Unlocked|
|Chevrolet Cobalt||Already Unlocked|
|Volkswagen Golf GTI||Already Unlocked|
|Audi TT Quattro||Beat Sonny|
|Audi A3 Quattro||Beat Sonny|
|Mitsubishi Eclipse||Beat Taz|
|Audi A4 Quattro FSI||Beat Taz|
|Toyota Supra||Beat Vic|
|Renault Clio V6||Beat Vic|
|Mazda RX-8||Already Unlocked|
|Cadillac CTS-V||Beat Izzy|
|Ford Mustang GT||Already Unlocked|
|Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. VIII||Beat Big Lou|
|Mercedes Benz SL500||Already Unlocked|
|Pontiac GTO||Beat Baron|
|Vauxhall Monaro VXR||Beat Baron|
|Porsche Cayman S||Beat Baron|
|Subaru Impreza WRX STi||Already Unlocked|
|Mazda RX-7||Beat Earl|
|Mercedes Benz CLK500||Beat Jewels|
|Lotus Elise||Beat Jewels|
|Aston Martin DB9||Beat Kaze|
|Porsche 911 Carrera S||Already Unlocked|
|Dodge Viper SRT-10||Beat Ming|
|Lamborghini Gallardo||Already Unlocked|
|Porsche 911 Turbo S||Beat Webster|
|Chevrolet Corvette C6||Beat Webster|
|Lamboghini Murcielago||Beat JV|
|Ford GT||Beat JV|
|McLaren Mercedes SLR||Beat Ronnie|
|Porsche Carrera GT||Beat Ronnie|
Most Wanted features a mixed soundtrack, comprising 26 songs. Some of these songs are remixes of other songs, and the songs played during police chases were specially composed for the game. Listed below are all of the songs you will hear in the game. In the options menu however, you can disable the playback of certain songs or change where it is played, should you wish to hear Celldweller when you start the game, and listen to police instrumentals when racing, for example. Regardless, here are all of the songs present in the soundtrack. They are formatted with the artist and then song name:
|The box art for Most Wanted is universally the same. It shows the side of the BMW M3 GTR, which is the 'cover car' for the game, at an angle that suggests it is drifting (odd, considering the fact that there are no drift races in Most Wanted). Reflected off the design of the M3 is a customized Corvette - this is actually Cross' Corvette. Additionally, the manufacturer decals on the rear window of the GTR do not actually appear in-game, and the vinyl is a darker blue. Despite this, Most Wanted has a very distinguishable cover, and is easily identified.|
Most Wanted was released in two variants: the Black Edition, and the Standard Edition. The Black Edition of the game has slightly different box art, with the words 'Black Edition' scrawled under Most Wanted in the same typeface. In-game, the Black Edition has two extra cars in the form of the 1960s Chevrolet Camaro and the Nissan 240SX. Despite this, these two cars are of no real use to career players, as they can only be used for Custom Races, Multiplayer. Black Edition games also come with two extra challenges, but nothing else. Most Wanted 5-1-0 is its own game, and although based in Rockport City as well, it does not count as part of Most Wanted.