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Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

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I'm sure you can help them sort it out, Dunban.
― Fiora, Xenoblade Chronicles
This article is about the 2012 video game by Criterion Games.
You may be looking for the 2005 video game with the same name.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted
The marketing guys screwed up so bad. This game is actually called Burnout Fairhaven, for your information.
Genre(s): Racing
Platform(s): Android
Kindle Fire
Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
PlayStation Vita
Xbox 360
Wii U
Release: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
NA: October 30, 2012
AU: November 1, 2012
EU: November 2, 2012

Wii U
NA: March 19, 2013
AU: March 21, 2013
EU: March 22, 2013
Engine: Chameleon
Developer(s): Criterion Games
Inline Assembly (PS Vita/Wii U)
Firemonkeys Studios (Android/iOS)
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Country: United Kingdom
Series: Need for Speed
Predecessor: Need for Speed: The Run
Successor: Need for Speed: Rivals

Need for Speed: Most Wanted[1] (known as Need for Speed: Most Wanted U for the Wii U) is a 2012 racing video game developed by Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and Wii U as part of the Need for Speed series.

Although it shared the title with the 2005 release with the same name, it is not a reboot of said game.

Bad Qualities

  1. False advertising: Although this is called a Need for Speed game, the game's cover art is just like Burnout Paradise's cover art due its city background. Also, the whole game is just a rehash of Burnout Paradise with licensed cars and NFS elements. Very little stuff is carried over from the original Most Wanted.
    • A modder by the name of Speedyheart actually found prerelease material (most specifically a Prototype build from December 2011) which indicated that this game was to not meant to be the Burnout clone seen in the final product, but rather an actual sequel to the original Need For Speed: Most Wanted (titled as Need For Speed: Most Wanted 2). It was also found that it was meant to be released in 2013 as opposed to in 2012. However, this is just the biggest one of the many poor decisions EA made to show how arrogant they are and they don't care about their customers, thus further ruining the NFS franchise.
  2. The whole singleplayer mode of this game is just a huge joke.
    • Instead of unlocking cars by winning races and buying them with currency or selecting them from a garage, you can find almost all the cars scattered around the city from the very beginning, which removes any sense of progression. Even its father, Burnout Paradise, has a much clearer sense of progression.
      • The only slightest part of progression is that you have to get a certain amount of speed points to unlock a Most Wanted boss. The DLC bosses, on the other hand, are available after the game's intro. However, they're simply a series of white cars that seems to exist with the sole purpose of being challenged, making this game extremely lifeless. By the way, the "taking down rivals to get their cars" part is directly taken from Burnout Paradise.
      • After you beat all the bosses (which takes a very short amount of time), the game just shows you an unskippable cutscene, congratulating you for becoming the Most Wanted, and to keep on playing to collect more Speed Points and race with your friends. That's it. All you can do in single player now is to collect all the items in the city, win all the races, and unlock all Pro parts, which is an extremely repetitive and painfully boring process.
    • Instead of allowing you to play every race with the car of your choice, each car has its own set of pre-assigned races, severely limiting replay value.
    • In single player, you can't even change the color of your car, tire smoke, or nitrous smoke until you go through a repair shop, and even that's random. Even Burnout Paradise allows you to at least choose your car's color in the Junkyard.
      • One of the particular examples is Porsche 918 Spyder (production model, equipped with the Weissach Pack) from the Terminal Velocity DLC. It does have the signature white paint with red Salzburg livery, which is very beautiful to look at. However, when you change into other colors, the livery wrap stays unchanged, making the car look really awkward. To prevent that you have to either avoid repair shops, or drive through them over and over to change it back.
      • The only exceptions are the cars from the Need For Speed Heroes DLC, with five liveries available for each car.
    • Very random and ridiculous AI, as expected from Criterion. They always seem like rockets at the start of each race, but then start slowing down on purpose at the end of it. Also, cops can despawn or respawn anytime & anywhere, even right in front of the player.
    • Cop chases have practically no risk at all. If you get busted, all you will lose is the Speed Points (which is extremely easy to farm in this game) you earned during the chase, making the game extra boring. Also, no cops are involved at all in mutiplayer.
    • Normally in a game, you will unlock most of the stuff in singleplayer (or simultaneously in multiplayer) in order to compete with other players. However in this game, almost everything in singleplayer is completely separated from multiplayer, which makes singleplayer even more pointless.
    • Vehicle customization is very dull compared to previous games in the series. You get a choice between two versions of every mod, which increases one stat while taking away from another. There are Pro versions that don't have this penalty, but unlocking them is a tedious process.
  3. Again, no manual transmission, but this time, the gauges are gone as well (which can be expected considering its father game). So even if you somehow mod the game to have manual transmission, apart from listening to the engine's pitch, you will have no idea when to shift at all.
  4. Yes, you can use Nitrous (which only works in internal combustion engines) in the Tesla Roadster (which is a pure electric sports car) in this game. Although this has been done before in Need for Speed: Nitro, the whole art style of Nitro is very cartoon-ish so it somehow fits in. Not in this game which clearly has a realistic art style.
    • Therefore, no flames are emitted when it uses nitrous. However, because nitrous smoke is a prominent selling point for one of the DLCs, it has to come out somewhere from the Roadster. So you will see random smoke coming from the back of the Tesla out of nowhere when using said nitrous.
  5. The fastest car in the game, the Hennessey Venom GT Spyder, is a DLC car as part of the Ultimate Speed Pack, making the game somewhat pay-to-win.
    • However, the car is free to obtain in the Wii U version, just by shutting down the Most Wanted racer.
  6. The YouTuber BlackPanthaa has pointed at 8:07 out in his video THE WORST NEED FOR SPEED EVER: The airport was actually taken out of the game to be released as DLC.
    • As revealed in Most Wanted 2 build (intended to be a direct sequel to the 2005 game) and some promotional pictures, the legendary M3 GTR was also taken out to be released as DLC.
  7. Legendary NFS Hero cars do return (in DLC), albeit in replicas again (at least they look much better than in The Run). Both Nissans are in heavily altered liveries. Rose Largo's Porsche 911 GT2 (997) has a stock body kit and also in heavily altered livery for some reason. And most importantly, the legendary M3 GTR uses a regular E46's inline-6 engine sound rather than a V8.
  8. The handling is very poor compared to the previous games (especially The Run), as you'll mostly suffer from oversteer/understeer no matter which car you're driving even when using handbrakes. Because of the theme change during production, the driving model is very unfitting to the environment.
    • Drift events are incredibly hard without drift tires. Some of them are nearly unbeatable when trying to unlock Jump Boost. The "Drift City" event is the worst offender due to its short length and tricky corners.
  9. Unskippable, annoying crash cinematic even when bumping into a car at low speeds.
    • Also this game (and some of its sequels) does not allow your car to tilt more than 90 degrees from any side (it will be treated as crashing immediately once you do it, including in the air. Even the infamous ProStreet allows you to flip your car in the air.) Because this game has a lot of jumps, they can be very frustrating.
    • For the reasons above, crash system is a huge retrogression compared to both Burnout Paradise and Hot Pursuit (2010).
  10. Occasionally, you'll start a race going much slower than the AI racers, which makes winning much harder unless you restart.
  11. The Ford Focus ST and Dodge Charger SRT8 (which is a promotional code exclusive car) are both multiplayer only for some reason.
  12. The Hummer H1 Alpha (which is heavily promoted), Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, and Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray are all cut. However, they do appear in mobile version & Need for Speed: World, so it is definitely another proof of how rushed this game was made. Fortunately for the PC version, mods exist to restore them.
  13. DLC was only released for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions. The Wii U port at least had the Ultimate Speed Pack bundled in, but PS Vita owners got absolutely screwed.

Good Qualities

  1. A lot of good qualities from Burnout Paradise are inherited.
    • This game is very easy to pick up and play.
    • The world map is very huge and contains a lot of fun places to drive, drift & jump.
    • Very fun and aggresive multiplayer gameplay.
    • Being a spiritual Burnout game, a lot of Burnout easter eggs can be found, such as Jackspot music, license plates, and so on.
  2. Great graphics, especially in the PC version.
  3. Great soundtrack aside from the overuse of mainstream dubstep and rock music and unnecessary *bleep*-dammit censorship, especially I Love It by Icona Pop.
  4. Race intros are very interesting to watch. And you can skip them whenever you want.
    • Ambush intros however, makes you feel like you're in the middle of the woods, tripping balls, because the intros are filled with bizarre moments such as the cops making a wheel or raining from the skies like cats in Paradise on an average Friday afternoon. It also comes with a lot of pop culture references such as Aliens and Transformers.
  5. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions can let you play with motion controls by using PlayStation Move or Kinect.
  6. The Wii U version is one of the best version in comparison to other versions, it comes included with the Ultimate Speed Pack, but unfortunately the Deluxe DLC Bundle doesn't come and it doesn't have any of the new DLC present in the other versions like the Movie Legends Pack and the NFS Heroes Pack, it also has cars equipped with "Boost U" when you unlock them, which makes races easier when you don't have Burn Nitrous unlocked yet, it also uses the high resolution assets from the PC, while also having a better lighting model than even the PC version, which looks like a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game.
    • It also has "Warp Pipes" easter egg exclusive to this version, which based on those seen in the Super Mario Bros. franchise. A secret location can be entered by the player upon parking their vehicle on top of a pipe and clicking the left stick down of their controller.
    • Unlike previous three NFS games on the Wii, this game was not a reskin or a watered-down version, instead, this game was based on the PS3/Xbox 360 versions, so it isn't frustrating to play.
    • The gamepad is very useful in this game. Aside from playing the game on it, you can use it as a minimap, or, you can do anything like turning the day/night cycle, switching between cars, and even disable the cops.
  7. The Vita version is very impressive for a portable version, and heavily praised for being the same as the PS3 version, but with very few minor differences. It also has cut content, although it doesn't have any DLC.
  8. The Android & iOS ports developed by FireMonkeys are fairly decent and includes some of the DLC cars (like the BMW M3 GTR and Pagani Zonda R) & cut cars (such as the aforementioned Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Hummer H1 Alpha), but unfortunately doesn't include freeroam due to hardware limitations.
    • This version did a much greater job in terms of progression than console version, you simply purchase cars with currency and and can pick any of them for any race. Also bosses in this version have names and much greater designed liveries that looks absolutely amazing.
  9. There are so many mods available now, ranging from visual enhancements like the HD Effects mod by Aero_, to livery mods inspired by several games and movies such as Ridge Racer Type 4, 2 Fast 2 Furious, an Adobe Shockwave game series called Burnin' Rubber, the Pace Car Nissan Skyline GTR (R34) from Gran Turismo 4, even Johnny Silverhand's Porsche 930 from Cyberpunk 2077 by a modder named DeFy, to even the return of the obscure triplets (of course it's the aforementioned cut cars) and a mod that adds 107 new colors .


Despite Need for Speed: Most Wanted being met with generally positive reviews from critics, it has received a mostly mixed to negative reception from the fans with the exception of mobile, Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions, on Metacritic, the Wii U version has a score of 86/100 and a user score of 7.5, the PlayStation 3 version a score of 84/100 and a user score of 5.9, the PlayStation Vita version has a score of 79/100 and a user score of 7.7, the Xbox 360 version has a score of 84/100 and a user score of 5.5 and the PC version has a score of 78/100 and a user score of 4.5, it is considered by many as the worst game in the series, even worse than ProStreet or Undercover. Despite this, the game sold very successful, but unfortunately, the low sales of the game on the Wii U and PlayStation Vita, its sequel, Need for Speed: Rivals was not developed for those platforms.

It was the only Need for Speed game released for Wii U and PlayStation Vita, as well as the last Need for Speed game to be released on a Nintendo platform until the Nintendo Switch port of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.



  1. Also known as Need for Speed: Most Wanted – A Criterion Game and commonly called Most Wanted 2012.


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