Need For Speed: Most Wanted PS3 preview

Refinement is the watchword for Need For Speed: Most Wanted on PS3. “Racing games had gotten boring,” says creative director Craig Sullivan. The result of Criterion’s shake-up drives like a classic that’s been through the tuning shop – the new features just feel natural.

Need For Speed’s cars

Take the carjacking mechanic, for example. As you pelt about the city of Fairhaven, you’ll stumble upon any of the 50 cars in the game parked down alleys or on top of parking structures, just ripe for the taking. Drive up to them and a button prompt enables you to bodysnatch into them.

During our hands-on, we traded in our stock BMW for a Lamborghini we stumbled upon in a construction site and a Bentley we liberated from a car park. “If you can find it, you can drive it,” says executive producer Matt Webster.

The system means an end to grinding for hours just to get behind the wheel of your dream car. It also means that, from the get-go, your experience in Fairhaven is going to be completely different to your mates’. “If we talk about the game down the pub, you’re going to have a very different experience to mine,” says Sullivan. “You might drive straight on and find the Porsche 911; I might turn left and find the Lamborghini Aventador.”

And Most Wanted definitely wants you to share the experience with friends. Autolog – the built-in social networking feature – is everywhere. When you shoot past a speed camera, a table pops up showing how irresponsibly the buddies on your friends list passed the same point. When you smash through a mate’s billboard, it changes to a police ‘most wanted’ poster with your profile picture on it. It’s the DVLA’s worst nightmare.

There’s no carjacking in multiplayer, however. Instead, you unlock more exotic vehicles by competing to earn XP, or Speed Points as they’re called here. You might have 90 seconds to see who can travel furthest from a jump, or a similar amount of time to see who can drift the furthest around a central point.

As always, you can best competitors with skill, or spoil things for everyone by Fast-And-Furious-ing your vehicle into theirs. It’s glorious automotive chaos – we can’t wait to
get our keys back.