Need for Speed: Most Wanted U Review
Need For Speed: Most Wanted’s Wii U port made many headlines when it was announced that Criterion would be putting forth a huge effort into it and not just throw a game on the system to get some extra sales – something that has crippled the Wii U’s life early on. Criterion has seemingly made it their mission to show other developers just what the troubled console is capable of, and has done such a good job with this version that it feels like the definitive version of the game.
It’s got the most control options of any version available and it’s amazing just how well things like the co-driver and Wii remote work with the game itself. The co-driver allows you to play the game on the TV and then peer down and activate a God mode of sorts by turning off traffic or disabling cops for a few seconds – something a second player can also do if the first player is using either a Pro controller or the Wii remote. Since we don’t have a Pro pad, the Wii remote controls were intriguing since it, like the Gamepad itself, lacks analog buttons and modern racing games rely on them.
Shockingly, the game controls quite well with basic buttons and the default Wii remote is an okay option to control the game, but it is kind of uncomfortable to hold for a long time. However, if you have the BOSS remote shell, it’s way more comfortable and hitting the 1 and 2 buttons is much easier since they’re so much bigger there, while the D-pad is also bigger and the shell itself makes the remote easier to hold for extended periods of time.
If you loved the wheel-style controls in Mario Kart, then you’ll be glad to hear that they’re supported for both the remote and Gamepad. Playing Most Wanted U with the Gamepad and motion controls is far more comfortable since it fits in your hands much easier than even the BOSS-shelled remote, and while I personally didn’t think it controlled as well with them as it did with the left analog stick, I was impressed that it did work very well and I was even able to win some races using it.
Of all the methods available to me to control the game, which includes everything but a Wii U pro controller, the overall best and most comfortable way to control the game is with the classic controller pro. The timing for my pickup of that particular item couldn’t have been better because I can’t imagine trying to control it with the dinky ZL and ZR buttons on the original classic pad. The trigger button placement is perfect and the pad is super-comfortable for extended play sessions since it’s much lighter than the Gamepad.
One of the nicest features of the game is how everything can be changed on the fly. If you’ve got the game just on the TV, you can use the Gamepad to select a ton of things – including control options that can be altered whenever you want. If you’d like to just drive around recklessly with motion control, then switch to analog control for races, you can. There’s a lot more freedom offered to the player here than in past versions, and nowhere is that more true than with the co-driver mode.
With it, you’re able to take over controls for the remote user if they’re having trouble (perfect for playing with kids who are struggling, but want to experience the game), or access something that comes mighty close to a real-time debug menu by changing day to night, taking away or adding traffic, temporarily disabling cops, changing cars or even their color whenever you so desire. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then you’ll at least like the easier to read map option that can fill the screen and make finding cars much easier. They’ve also added the ability to start any race instantly instead of having to drive to a location – saving you a ton of time and reducing wear and tear on vehicles as well.
Outside of the gameplay additions, the graphics have received a fairly noticeable improvement over the PS3 and 360 versions. Thanks to using the same assets as the PC version, this is now the best-looking version of the game available on a console. It wasn’t a slouch before, but now the road textures are much cleaner and the lighting effects are even more impressive. They really look amazing at night too, with the light shining off of roads and into each little crevice on them. Car models look better than ever too, although the game still has a slightly jaggy appearance at times that takes away from the visual bliss on display. However, unlike the other console versions, there’s no texture pop-in here, which is nice. The visuals pop nicely on the Gamepad, and seeing such high-end graphics on a small screen in amazing.
Audio-wise nothing has changed from the original game, so expect a really good soundtrack, realistic sound effects that get the blood pumping when you’ve got car sirens blaring around you, and some repetitious cop comments. Online play also hasn’t undergone much of a change, and doesn’t include any new content beyond the addition of Miiverse support for real-time comments, making the ultimate speed pack free, and lacking a paid online pass. Online play is quite smooth and as fun now as it was nearly six months ago.
While the controls are technically inferior to the 360 and PS3 version due to the lack of analog buttons on any Wii U control method, they still work really well and don’t make the game hard to control – it just takes some time to get used to controlling a modern racer with purely digital buttons. Otherwise, the addition of all of the Gamepad features and the ultimate speed DLC pack on-disc at no charge, along with no online pass being needed (another nice trend for the system), helps make this a better pickup than its other console versions. While PC owners with a powerful enough rig to run it well might want to stick with that version, if you’ve got a console and loved Most Wanted, be sure to pick this up at some point. If you’ve never played it but wanted to, pick it up sooner, while those with other versions will probably want to wait for a price drop – especially since it appears unlikely that the newer DLC packs will be made available for this version.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Electronic Arts
This review is based on a copy of Need for Speed: Most Wanted U for the Wii U provided by Electronic Arts.