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E3 2012: Need For Speed Most Wanted hands-on impressions

The Need For Speed franchise from publisher Electronic Arts got a new lease on life in 2010 when Criterion Games, the makers of the Burnout franchise, released the impressive Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. While the next game in the series, Need For Speed The Run, made by another EA development team, wasn't as good, we were very pleased when we heard Criterion was coming back to create the 2012 entry, Need For Speed Most Wanted.

At E3 2012, we got to play a brief demo of the game at EA's exhibit. There were two parts to the demo. One of them was a simple race where we traveled the streets of the game's fictional city against both AI racers as well as police cars (we won, by the way). The second part of the demo had us trying to evade "the Man" and avoid being trapped and busted by the police.

The team at Criterion have a ton of experience making these kinds of arcade racers. As a result, they know what they are doing when it comes to making racing games that allow the player to feel like they are in full control of the cars they are driving. This is no simulation but a fun and over-the-top experience with handling that is tight and perfect.

While there is no "crash mode" like in the Burnout games, Need For Speed Most Wanted definitely doesn't discourage players from wrecking other racers and the police. Cars get lots of damage in this game and the visuals are certainly on a par with previous games from Criterion.

The game itself takes place in an urban open world setting, as opposed to the countryside driving that Criterion made for Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. Indeed, the look and feel of Need For Speed Most Wanted closely resembles that of the last major Burnout game, Burnout Paradise and that's a good thing in our book.

Criterion and EA are not talking a lot about other aspects of the game, including what other single and multiplayer modes will be included. We do know that it will have a new version of Autolog, which was introduced in Need For Speed Hot Pursuit and which will collect stats from your driving history and compare them with your friends.

In the end, Need For Speed Most Wanted is a welcome return to the basics of this game franchise, after the disappointing The Run. We can't wait to play the full version when Criterion and EA release it for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in the fall of 2012.

Image via EA

NeoGamr and Neowin's coverage of E3 2012 is sponsored by War Inc. Battle Zone.

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