We recently reviewed the console version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted and had great things to say about it. Now that we have had plenty of time to speed around in Fairhaven City with our PS Vita, we can weigh in on that version as well.
If you have already played the PS3 version of the game, playing on the Vita will give you a serious case of déjà vu. Everything about the game has been fully replicated on the powerful little handheld. The map is identical, along with all of the same cars and Jack Spots. If you haven’t already played this title, you’re in for a treat.
Prior to this release, open world racing had yet to be available for the Vita. The closest thing so far had been Asphalt Injection, and it was just an OK title with limited online racing and less than great graphics. An OK port, but not really designed with the Vita in mind. Need for Speed: Most Wanted feels like it was designed just for the Vita. With the dual analog sticks and SixAxis like controls available, developer Criterion was able to give Vita owners almost the same experience console owners are enjoying.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted pits you against the top ten most wanted cars known to the Fairhaven PD. With the unprecedented ability to find all of the cars in the game and drive them immediately, there’s no need to earn cash or points in order to unlock your favorite licensed cars. Each car has its own set of Jack Spots. With famous names like Lamborghini, Porsche and Shelby readily available, you’ll quickly be traveling around Fairhaven looking for those top ten drivers. Each car has a set of races that you’ll need to complete in order to unlock upgrades for it, and these upgrades will come in handy when attempting to shut down the top ten.
The top ten drivers aren’t available to take on until you’ve earned enough Speed Points. SP is earned by competing in races as well as by jumping through billboards, setting off speed cameras, crashing through security gates and finding Jack Spots. You can also earn SP by jumping farther through a billboard than someone on your friends list. Own a billboard and you can have your face on that board in the game. All it takes is to upload your own image using the NFS website’s Autolog area.
Running from the Fairhaven PD is another great way to earn SP. You have a heat gauge that tells you how bad the police want to nab you. It ranges from one to six and the higher the number, the more aggressive the PD will be. Level one is pretty easy to escape from, but reach level six and SWAT teams will be out in their armored cars trying to block your way and take you out.
One thing to make note of here is that your account on the PS3 and the PS Vita share the same Autolog. What this means is that if you have already earned enough SP to unlock all of the most wanted races on one version, they’ll be readily available on the other version. You’ll have to beat them on both versions, though. You’ll also be accumulating SP across both accounts so if you are a leaderboard aficionado, playing both versions can net you a huge amount of SP. The game tracks all of your friends who are also playing the game and has its own most wanted list using your friends list.
The graphics for the game are downgraded some for the Vita, but that is to be expected somewhat. They could have been sharper and cleaner on the handheld, but they still make for the best racing graphics available. The degrading of your car as you drive around and bang it up is nicely detailed. Driving through a garage, and seeing your car go from beat-up and grimy to spit and polished is very pleasing.
The Vita did get a few things that are unique to the platform. There are ten exclusive races that aren’t available on the console version. These were a little disappointing and underwhelming. None of them take longer than a minute or so and all are just sprint races. A few laps around a small track for ten races? Why not throw in some other types? Running from the cops in the Ford GT in an ambush type race, starting out with a heat level of 6, would be way more fun. They say variety is the spice of life, but I guess Criterion didn’t want to spice up the exclusive races. Viewing and navigating the Fairhaven map is done using the touch screen. Pinching, and expanding your fingers zooms in and out. It’s a very nice addition and makes navigating around fairly easy.
Whether you own the PS3 version or not, if you own a PS Vita, you won’t find a better racing title than Need for Speed: Most Wanted.