WHILE last year’s Need For Speed entry – The Run – was seen by many as a misstep in the arcade racing series, Most Wanted represents a boisterous return to form.

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Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Price: £49.99

Format: PS3 (also on Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita)

Age rating: 7+

WHILE last year’s Need For Speed entry – The Run – was seen by many as a misstep in the arcade racing series, Most Wanted represents a boisterous return to form. Its anything goes mantra pervades all aspects of the game, as you’re deposited in an open world city where almost every car is playable right from the start, reckless driving is encouraged and the police want to ram you off the road.

All you have to do to steal a ride is drive up to a fancy new motor and it’s yours for the taking. There are a huge variety of cars on offer, too, ranging from trucks and muscle cars to sports cars and vintage roadsters. Each one has its own set of events – including circuit races, point-to-point challenges and speed runs – and if you do well you can equip your car with perks such as nitrous boosters and impact protectors.

Sitting alongside these events are a ton of other distractions, including setting off speed cameras, smashing up billboards, evading capture by the police and so on. Almost everything you do earns you speed points and, if you accrue enough of them, you can challenge one of the city’s ‘Most Wanted’ drivers to a head-to-head race. Take them down and you win their car, although you also have to contend with an overzealous police force deploying roadblocks and stingers. There are ten drivers to beat, which will take you the best part of eight to ten hours, but at least it gives some incentive to keep grinding away.

Your competitive zeal is further stoked by the performance of your online friends. Thanks to the in-built Autolog system, your achievements are constantly compared to those of your pals and you’ll be set new challenges if they beat you in a certain discipline or metric.

The game’s online multiplayer also comes with its own challenges, as you compete in checkpoint races and demolition derbies, amongst other modes. The absence of any online police chases is truly mystifying though.

Overall, Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a class act. Everything looks and sounds great and vehicle handling is spot-on. Single-player races are always highly competitive, while Autolog and online multiplayer offer additional goals.

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