This article originally appeared in GamesMaster magazine.
While the premise of Need For Speed: Most Wanted echoes the 2005 EA Black Box title of the same name (win races to climb a Most Wanted leaderboard while evading the cops who are trying to muscle in on your fun), it is there the similarities end.
Taking place in an open-world playground crammed full of challenges, collectables and sweeping races that span as wide as the city that hosts them, this reboot is in fact Burnout Paradise 2 in pretty much everything but name.
And we at GM couldn't be happier about that. Burnout Paradise's decision to go open world divided fans back in 2008, with many rightly noting that the 'find your own route to the finish line' dynamic diluted the purity of the actual racing. True perhaps, but if like us you took the game online with friends to attempt the team challenges, you'll know that this was where the heart of the Burnout Paradise experience lay.
After taking a brief detour back into Linearsville with Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, we're pleased to see Criterion getting firmly back on track with their vision of an open world racer - especially as they've taken criticisms of Paradise on-board for the ride.
PARA, PARA, PARADISE
In the years since Burnout Paradise's release, Criterion has developed its own social media platform Autolog - and Most Wanted is powered by version 2.0 of the software. Even when you're playing on your own you're up against the entire world, as the new and improved Autolog tracks everything you do as you burn around the city of Fairhaven.
Each street, for example, has a Speedwall attached to it, and as you burn past it it'll broadcast your time to your other friends and invite either you or them to do better. You can customise your newsfeed to some extent, allowing you to concentrate on beating the times of your best friend and drowning out the impossi-times set by that guy who smashed you on Top Spin 4 that one time and friended you for no reason.
Jump distances are also recorded among friends, and in a neat touch they physically manifest themselves in your world in the form of a billboard with their mugshot on it. Smash through it while beating their distance and their ugly gurn will be replaced with your beautiful visage. Ha!