Need For Speed Most Wanted PS Vita review – connected Vita racer puts monsters in your pocket

Need For Speed Most Wanted 2 E3 Screens

There are two ways to look at Criterion’s handheld port of Need For Speed Most Wanted: one as a technical achievement, and the other as a vehicle for long-term, portable enjoyment. On a technical level, it’s quite striking just how little’s been stripped down on Vita – Fairhaven City in its entirety is present and correct, down to the last Jackspot (not a euphemism), billboard and supercar. All its freedom and scope, its functionality in real-time four player and asynchronous multiplayer finds its way onto handheld with no gimmicky touch controls or tilting.

Need For Speed Most Wanted PS Vita review

But playing games isn’t a chin-stroking, canapés-at-the-paddock-club experience, and we’re not here just to crunch the numbers. By and large this game maintains the ferocious, edge-of-control sensation that makes the PS3 game so exhilarating, which is pretty crucial, and it’s that solid handling experience that makes it worth playing.

Graphically it’s far from like-for-like with PS3 – while you’re parked up the visuals do appear lacking, but in motion it all starts to make a bit more sense to your eyes. Frame rates are generally extremely playable too, but there is the odd race in heavy traffic in which you’ll feel the poor Vita strain to keep its head above 20 frames per second, particularly when a few other racers are on-screen.

Between that and the inherent difficulty of trying to thread your car like a needle through miniscule gaps, road forks and cop barricades on a small screen, the challenge in this Lilliputian version of Fairhaven occasionally spills into frustration.

The racing packs’ culled to six to keep performance playable (oddly resulting in you starting miles away from the pack each race) and traffic’s been thinned, but with that compromise comes a distinct absence of the miasma of smoke, sparks and fury found in just about every corner of the PS3 version.

With just four players able to race online, multiplayer events are muted too, so bashing your mate’s Speedwall scores remains the bread and butter of connected enjoyment.  Still, despite coming across as that bit drier than its source material, it’s a well-realised Vita motor city and easily one of the best racers on the platform.

Our Score

Score: 8