Our Need for Speed: Most Wanted review describes Criterion's re-imagining as "ambitious" and "beautiful" but not without its faults.
Reviews of the supposed Burnout Paradise sequel in disguise have started to trickle onto the internet. As always we've gathered them up and presented them in a list below.
- CVG: 7.5/10 - Fairhaven is less a race track and more a playground - but a race track is exactly what Most Wanted needed most.
- Edge: 9/10 - Since Burnout Paradise, it's been clear that Criterion isn't content to do repeats. And neither, it seems, is it content to deliver anything but sublime, bar-setting driving games. Genre fans have been spoiled in recent years with everything from Blur and Split Second's arcade thrills to Driver: San Francisco's experimental take on storytelling and Ridge Racer Unbounded's sheer carnage. And yet, once again, Criterion still manages to stand out and offer something fresh, setting a new standard in open-world driving games with - that word again - a seamless feast of quality.
- Joystiq: 4/5 - Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the next Burnout game fans have clamoring for - it may not say so on the box, but everything about it screams Burnout. The feel of the cars, the physics and the eclectic mix of multiplayer modes are all undeniably Criterion qualities, the things old fans love and the properties that convert new fans with every studio release. If you enjoy Criterion's work, or arcade racing in general, head on down to Fairhaven. Just keep an eye on the rear-view.
- Destructoid: 8.5/10 - Fans of Criterion's previous games were clear in what they wanted, and in turn, Criterion themselves were clear in what they were making. There are some scrapes with single-player and a lack of polish here and there, but the multiplayer delivers in such a big way that all of this hardly matters. Need for Speed Most Wanted is that big, crazy, crash-y open-world racer you've been asking for.
- Polygon: 8.5/10 - Need for Speed Most Wanted is marred somewhat by a fussy, restrictive and self-defeating interface. But it's one of the best racing games of 2012 regardless. And if Criterion's track record of post-release support with Burnout Paradise is any indication, it will only improve over time. Criterion has proven itself as a steward of one of gaming's oldest and most beloved brands, and also as creative game makers in their own right.
- Eurogamer: 8/10 - Its sense of character may be not be as forceful as Criterion's other games - but the sense of competition that informs it, the joy of discovery and the plain pleasure of driving haven't been dimmed in the slightest. This isn't quite paradise, but it comes very close.
- OXM UK: 8/10 - Most Wanted is thus a compelling argument not just for Criterion's continued stewardship of Need for Speed - assuming Hot Pursuit left you in any doubt on that front - but for the reproduction of those inescapable, irresistible online features across rival genres.
- ShopTo: No score - If you're a racing fan or petrol head of any sort then Criterion's Need for Speed really should be on your Most Wanted list. It's an incredible, feature packed game which will keep you busy until the next game in the series and beyond. Get this in your console, start your engines and prepare for another taste of paradise, albeit a slightly different one.
- GiantBomb: 4/5 - If you're looking for a multiplayer driving game that's about way more than simple races, Most Wanted's speedlist system makes for an amazingly good time.
- Game Revolution: B+ - It's a great combination of Underground and Hot Pursuit, and it's just one hell of a lot of fun. To think: if only I owned some of these virtual rides in real life...meh, who am I kidding, I'd drive them like my grandmother. I'd be too afraid of scratching the paint.
- Game Informer: 9.0 - Sometimes while playing Most Wanted I was confused what to do next due to the sheer volume of opportunities. I was even frustrated at times when seemingly out of nowhere, a civilian car clogged up the last turn of a particularly high-tension race, causing me to eat metal instead of grabbing victory. But part of the beauty of this game is that there is no such thing as an unfair ending. Whether you're dominating your opponents or barrel rolling your way through a race, you're getting what you wanted - a game, that win or lose, goes all out getting there.
- Venturebeat: 85/100 - Need for Speed: Most Wanted wishes it was a Burnout game. It has the right developer, the right approach to open-world racing design, and the right gameplay to make it a worthy sequel to 2008's Paradise. Unfortunately, it's not a Burnout game. It lacks the punch and thrill of that series, replacing it with something that can't fairly be called "blandness" but is still too generic to set it apart from other games in the genre. Most Wanted is a good game, and it's still a lot of fun. It just doesn't feel enough like its own thing, simultaneously too similar and not similar enough to those that came before it.
- Digital Spy: 4/5 - The single-player game lacks a bit of structure and the multiplayer is certainly chaotic at first, but the game excels in providing socially connected racing that gets under the skin.