The Detroit News today is host to a review of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, the latest game in the NFS franchise, written by Darrin Hill. Since this was a game I enjoyed, I briefly skimmed through the article. The whole thing starts off on the wrong foot by the virtue of its timing; this game came out nearly six months ago and it’s just being reviewed now? Looking past that, you’ll see a review so chock-full of factual errors that you can’t even consider it accurate, thereby rendering it a useless critique.
To begin, Mr. Hill briefly lets us in on the history of the games in the NFS franchise, and then informs us of which games he liked and which he did not. In direct opposition to the opinions of most hardcore NFS fans, he disses what he claims was the worst title in the franchise — the “horrible” Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed — and how it quickly found its way to the bargain bin. Wow, I thought NFS:PU was one of the better titles, more true to the series’ serious gearhead roots? But while I was willing to let that one go, the author then goes on to say that the best title of this “storied franchise” is the godawful Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit II, which, after experiencing the demo, remains the only NFS game that I decided not to purchase. It was dumbed down, floaty, used “bombs being thrown from helicopters” as an obstacle in true 1980s arcade fashion, and not even remotely engaging. At this point I am starting to wonder whether the article author here even played any of the NFS games prior to Hot Pursuit II.
There are some other points in the article that I agree with, such as the criticism of the played-out, tired “street racer revenge” storyline that’s plagued every racing same since the release of The Fast and the Furious. But then critic extraordinaire Darrin Hill complains that you only have access to four cars: The Lexus IS 300, Fiat Punto, Chevy Cobalt SS and VW Golf GTi. He ridicules each as being a crankbucket that couldn’t realistically win races unless they were up against a “late ’70s hooptie special.” While there may be some truth to that, Mr. Hill, did you happen to play the game for more than five minutes? Because as you win races, you unlock access to more cars…much, much better cars. Or did you just assume that the four you have to start with are all you’ll ever see? And if so, have you played any racing game AT ALL in the last four years? Because that’s how they all work now: you get access to more cars as you play!
After adding a complaint about how you can’t change the camera angles (uh…yes you can, on the PC and Xbox360 versions at least — maybe you didn’t read the manual either?), Mr. Hill closes with another jab at the so-called small library of vehicles: “Taking the Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris, Corvettes, and Vipers out of the equation makes this ‘NFS’ game just another racing title.” Wow…if you had just played a little further, you’d see that you are later given the option to buy Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris, Corvettes…and Vipers. Shocker! And what’s this about “just another racing title”…don’t pretty much all racing titles have Vipers and Porsches and such in them? If you didn’t want to be “just another racing title,” I’d think you’d include a wider variety of global automobiles like the Gran Turismo series, or some unique racing machines like the TOCA series. But no.
Please, Darrin, if you’re going to review a game, make sure you play it first — and for more than a few minutes, eh?