I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 2006, and my uncles had just purchased a copy of Need for Speed: Most Wanted for their PlayStation 2. I was still a kid, and all that mattered to me was Pro Evolution Soccer, FIFA, and Mortal Kombat Deception (I wasn’t allowed to play Armageddon– it was apparently too “violent” 🙄), so a game about driving around didn’t appeal to my sense of wonder much.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved cars as much as the average 8 to 10-year-old, but my uncles only let me play alone for a limited time, and it didn’t seem wise to spend such precious resources on racing. But on one of such days, I had the console to myself and winning the league after grueling matches had left me with fatigue. I figured, what did I have to lose, and put the disc in.
The next four hours of gameplay* were nothing short of amazing. Divine. Any word you could call it. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for this fateful random playing, I may never have come to appreciate other racing titles like Gran Turismo and Forza (bold statement, I know)!
I eventually got my console and personal copy of NFSMW and played it so much I think I wore the disc down.
Also, if I’d gone pro and became a Formula One racer, my first podium finish would have been dedicated to Need for Speed: Most Wanted…if only.
And I know I wasn’t the only one that loved it. It was such a talking-point game for best so many folks and so many reasons. And it’s not surprising many think it is downright the best Need for Speed Game ever made. Not convinced? Well, let’s take a side quest and show you why:
Why Need for Speed Most Wanted is The Best Game In The Series
Can I just say it’s the GOAT because it’s the best title in the series? That would be too easy, and I promised we’d convince the unbelievers.
Some may say the NFS series has cheesy dialogue and over-the-top stories and performances, with NFSMW being one of the most corny. Still, these elements are exactly what make it such a great game to play, especially considering the era in which it was originally released.
I was a preteen in the early 2000s. Even then, you could tell that game developers wanted to appeal to the preteen and teenage audience, often a little too much for comfort (that’s why looking back at some of the games we played then leaves a weird taste in your mouth, leaving you wondering “what were they thinking?!”). NFSMW’s devs were no exception, but for once, their trying too hard was a silver lining– a winning formula that led to over 15 million global sales.
But there were aspects that were just created perfectly. For one,
The Driving Mechanics
Obviously, they now pale in comparison to what we have today, but even then, it’s more of a graceful aging. I don’t think I’ve ever had such perfect handling with cars the way Most Wanted did, and while I’d admit nostalgia may be speaking here, I’m also willing to say it was era-defining.
Case in point– the early 2000s saw the release and start of the Fast and Furious franchise, and by 2006, Tokyo Drift had already been in theatres. To add to the car-loving culture, MTV’s Pimp My Ride was in full gear (no pun intended). So you had pop culture all around you on the theme of fast and exotic cars, and then there was this sick new game that matched everything you had seen on TV.
Picture this: through a series of twists and turns, your new venture into the city of Rockport sees you lose the elegant and out-of-this-world beauty that is the BMW M3 GTR GT. Your street cred is also in jeopardy. So what do you do?
A)Fix this monumental screwup, B) redeem yourself by climbing up the city’s ranking of racers called the “Blacklist,” and C) Get your car back, all while dealing with scheming, increasingly difficult rivals, and the occasional drag here and there.
It’s just a short recount, but the NFSMW storyline was out of this world, and it’s no wonder it remains an outlier in arcade racing. Oh, and did I forget to mention the improved and now-complex Police Pursuit element? You try winning a race with the cops on your tail. I dare you (seriously, they get meaner, and the higher the Heat level, the more impossible it gets).
The best part of it all was that you could actually feel the game progressing with each member of the Blacklist you took on, leading up to that epic showdown with Razor.
Cutscenes, Soundtrack, and Graphics
Presentation is one of those things that can make or mar a game. Sometimes, even if you’ve got the major things sorted out, if you don’t present well, the game will tank. NFSMW had its presentation on lockdown, and it felt like no stone was left unturned.
As I said earlier, the graphics may not compare much to what we have right now, thanks to the many advancements in game development, but back then, and for a long time, Most Wanted was perfectly rendered, and the cars were greatly detailed.
And the cutscenes! They made you feel something. Criterion’s decision to use real-life actors for the cutscenes added an element of extra realism into playing Most Wanted, and you could feel immersed in the storyline (isn’t that what we all want, at the end of the day?). I don’t think there’s anyone that didn’t end up hating this guy…
Actor Derek Hamilton plays the iconic antagonist Razor in NFSMW. Yep, he’s the one that takes your sweet ride.
And, of course, the soundtrack. You can’t pack a roster of acts like The Prodigy, Lupe Fiasco, Avenged Sevenfold, and Bullet for My Valentine and not expect a masterpiece. I wasn’t much for the “Nine Thou” menu theme, but Avenged Sevenfold’s Blind In Chains and Lupe Fiasco’s Titled were straight-fire jams to this day.
These are some of the things that make Need For Speed Most Wanted such an iconic entry– not just for the series but for arcade gaming in general.
So, enough geeking around—- are we getting a remake?
Technically, we have. I tried very hard not to mention the 2012 remake, but it’s impossible to talk about this game without mentioning it.
It’s not that the 2012 remake was so terrible; it’s more of it being a letdown in certain aspects. The original 2005 version gave so much, and of course with a remake, you expect great things. Instead, 2012’s NFSMW remake dialed it down storywise and put its strength into the racing itself.
Its biggest flaw was having a predecessor with a recognized name, and high expectations followed it all through. If it had gotten a different name, it may not have had the reactions it got. But that’s all circumstantial now, and people generally prefer to talk about what was good instead– 2005’s release. Still, 2012’s Most Wanted ranked at the top of the year’s racing games for multiplayer exploits.
Back to the question at hand: are we getting a remake of Need For Speed Most Wanted in 2024? The answer is complicated.
It does seem like it’s in the works. Simon Bailly, who played the character Officer Turf in the original game, tweeted about the remake being in development in July.
Unfortunately, she deleted her tweet moments later, and neither EA nor Criterion have confirmed nor denied her claims. Despite this uncertainty, the gaming community has been rife with speculations and discussions on the possibility that one of the greatest racing titles could grace our consoles and PCs in the 2020s.
In any event, 2024 isn’t far from us, and it’s only a matter of time before we find out what’s happening. Time will tell!