Heavy on celebrity, light on gameplay, Microsoft's next-gen unveiling on MTV left many skeptics in its wake. One of the many demos shown during commercial-bumping vignettes, which showcased the scant few moments of footage related to the system was EA's Need for Speed Most Wanted. The footage, which showed a chase wilder than most Hollywood sequences, showcased a police in hot pursuit of a speeding car that ultimately gets away by skidding under a passing big rig. While many were awed by the footage, others were left wondering if what they had just seen was actual in-game footage or merely a render like the next-gen Madden footage shown on ESPN a month earlier. Even the assurance of EA at Microsoft's Pre-show press conference wasn't enough to quiet doubters.
So what's EA to do? Make it playable.
In EA's own words, Need for Speed Most Wanted will combine the "thrill of illicit street racing and customization with the intensity of police pursuits." The lay translation of this reads, "fast cars and not getting caught by the police." Most Wanted will take place in an open world, which seems to indicate the flow will be much like Underground. One difference this time around is that players will have to build up street-cred, called the Blacklist, before taking on bigger races, which means they'll have to win races as well as leading the police on wild chases and building up their rap sheet.
The demo is largely comprised of the shots shown in the MTV and press conference showing, and featured a drag racing sequence, one of the many events expected to be featured in the final game. Unlike the past two Need for Speed titles, Most Wanted's races will take place in the daytime. Daylight means cops, so expect to see the boys in blue interfere with your races often. Of course, you want this since it means you're doing something right. Driving in the daytime will also mean more traffic, so you can also count on having to dodge through traffic at every turn. You'll even have to dodge under the big rig. If you make it, you're home free. If not, you risk sending logs all over the street, blocking your escape and even costing you the race.
The one element everyone wants to see with next-gen systems is graphical power -- and Most Wanted can push out some serious polygons. It will also feature other graphical special effects to really "sell" the experience. These include dust and smoke being kicked up during races and real-time lighting effects. It'll never be enough to impress some diehards who expect next generation system graphics to surpass life, but after looking at everything Most Wanted offers, it hard not be at least a little impressed.
Those not making the leap to the next-generation just yet shouldn't worry -- Most Wanted is also headed to current generation consoles. While they won't offer quite the graphical leaps and jumps seen in the Xbox 360 version, the gameplay will still be largely left intact, giving them no reason to feel disappointed.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is tentatively slated to ship this holiday season.