Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
North American cover art for Windows version
Developer(s) EA Black Box, EA Redwood Shores, Ideaworks Game Studio (Mobile Version)
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Composer(s) Paul Linford
Series Need for Speed
Engine EAGL 3
Version 1.3 (December 6, 2005)
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, Xbox 360, Mobile phone, PlayStation Portable
Release date(s) Nintendo DS
  • EU November 11, 2005
  • NA November 15, 2005
Microsoft Windows, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox & Game Boy Advance
  • NA November 15, 2005
  • EU November 25, 2005
  • AUS November 25, 2005
  • JP December 22, 2005
Xbox 360
  • NA November 22, 2005
  • EU December 2, 2005
  • JP December 10, 2005
Mobile phone
  • NA December 21, 2005
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Media/distribution CD, DVD, UMD, GameCube Game Disc, GBA Cartridge, NDS Game Card
System requirements

Microsoft Windows

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (commonly abbreviated to as NFS: MW) is a racing video game developed by EA Black Box and published by Electronic Arts. It is the tenth installment in the Need for Speed series. The game features street racing-oriented game play, with certain customization options from the Need for Speed: Underground series. The game is succeeded by Need for Speed: Carbon, which serves as a sequel to Most Wanted, and later Need for Speed: World, which features both the cities of Rockport and Palmont, making that game a successor to both Most Wanted and Carbon.

Most Wanted has been released for Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and mobile phones. Another version of Most Wanted, titled Need for Speed: Most Wanted: 5–1–0 has been released for the PlayStation Portable. It is the first game in the Need for Speed series to be rated T by the ESRB.



Most Wanted, like other Need for Speed games, is essentially a driving and racing game, where the player selects one car and races against a time limit or other racers to reach a destination. Police chases have once again been integrated into certain racing sessions, in which the police employ vehicles and tactics to stop the player's car and arrest the player, like Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, and Need for Speed: Carbon. As players take control of faster cars and increasingly rely on nitrous oxide speed boosts, the oxide meter now refills automatically for the first time since its introduction in Underground, and driving sequences become fast-paced and intense similar to the Burnout series.

Three distinct regions are offered in the city of Rockport, along with cycling weather. Racing events take place between sunrise and sunset, unlike in the Underground where the events took place at night. A Grand Theft Auto-like Free Roam mode is provided as in Need for Speed: Underground 2, but is still limited to Career mode, as well as pursuit-based events in other modes.

Brand promotion from Underground 2 still continues strongly, with the removal of Best Buy, Old Spice and the entry of Burger King restaurants, Castrol oil, Axe Unlimited and Edge shaving gel. The Cingular logo is still visible in the game's wireless communication system. Performance, body and visual parts that can be bought in the game are also from real life companies.


The game provides players with three game modes. The Quick Race mode allows the player to select a car and an event and immediately start racing. The available cars and events are unlocked as the player progresses through the storyline in the Career mode. Achieving goals by winning races and performing a number of actions, dubbed "Milestones", during police pursuits, as well as a minimum Bounty are needed to advance in the storyline and race against any of the mode's 15 Blacklist racers. In the Xbox 360 version, the player is awarded with Achievement Points each time a Blacklist opponent is defeated. Career mode introduces a new feature – the ability to win a Blacklist opponent's car ("pink slip"), bonus functions, extra cash or car parts and decors, after defeating the opponent in question. These come in the form of six markers – the rival's pink slip (which is concealed as a bonus marker), two bonus function markers, and three custom backroom parts markers of which there is a body part, visual upgrade, and performance marker ("Junkman Marker") that the player can select – of which the player can choose only two. New cars and parts are also unlocked as the player progresses through Career mode by beating Blacklist racers.

In addition to the Quick Race and Career modes, there is also a "Challenge Series" mode involving 69 progressively difficult challenges where players are required to successfully complete Tollbooth races and pursuit challenges, such as tagging a number of police cars. The pre-tuned cars used in each Challenge is fixed, ranging from mostly Career cars with poor handling to traffic vehicles such as a dump truck or police cars. Additional bonus cars may be unlocked as the player progresses through Challenge mode.

In terms of actual variations of races, Most Wanted inherits several racing modes prevalent in its Underground predecessors. The game's four existing modes: Circuit races, point-to-point Sprint races, lap knockout races and Drag races, remain largely unchanged since the first iteration of Underground, while Drifting, Street X, Underground Racing League tournaments and Outrun racing are removed. Meanwhile, Most Wanted sees the introduction of two new racing variations, which places emphasis on speed. The first mode is known as "Tollbooth," where a player races alone to designated checkpoints along a point-to-point route before time runs out; the more time a player has as they reach a toll booth, the more time they have to arrive at the next one. The second mode, dubbed "Speedtrap", sees racers competing with each other to get the highest accumulated speed record at multiple traffic cameras. At a speed trap/traffic camera, players accelerate their car to aim for the highest possible speed. Accumulated speed is reduced over a period of time after an opponent crosses the finish line first.

Pursuit system

The player's car is in pursuit by several undercover state police cars and a police helicopter in Free Roam mode. This screen-shot also depicts the use of simulated HDRR on the sunny sky and surface lighting.

Most Wanted features pursuit evasion in the game for the first time in the series since Hot Pursuit 2. In Career mode, police pursuits may occur during a race or during free roaming through the city, depending on the frequency of the police units in the area and traffic offenses players have committed. The player can initiate a pursuit immediately from the game's safe house or menu by choosing an unfinished Milestone or a Bounty challenge. Pursuits can also be initiated by selecting an appropriate Challenge in the Challenge Series mode. Traffic offenses committed by the player are known in game as Infractions. These include speeding, excessive speeding, reckless driving, driving off roadway, damage to property, hit and run, ramming a police unit, and resisting arrest.

The system is significantly more complex than its previous Hot Pursuit incarnations. The manner in which the police handle a player is now determined by the "heat level" of the player's current car. Heat levels, which increase with the length of a police pursuit and the amount of damage caused by the player during the pursuit, add a twist to the pursuit. The higher the car's heat level, the more aggressive the police units are against the player, employing additional tactics and tools, such as roadblocks, spike strips, police helicopters and heavier and faster police cars such as police SUV's.

In Career mode, pursuits are integrated into the game in such a way that it is necessary to participate in pursuit in order to be able to challenge Blacklist racers. The player must complete Milestones which involve committing at least a specified amount of traffic offenses or pursuit lengths during a pursuit, and collecting an amount of Bounty, a form of credit accumulated as players continue to evade the police or damage police units. A car's heat level may be reduced by changing the physical appearance of a car by changing body parts or paint color, or by using another purchased car with a lower heat level to race in the streets. If a car is not being used by the player its heat level will slowly lower over time. Rap sheets, with records such as the player's infractions, cost to state, deployed tactics and pursuit lengths, are also available for viewing by hacking into police records.

Players are provided with several additional features which are useful during pursuits. The Speedbreaker, provided within the driving interface, slows down time similar to bullet time and momentarily adds weight to the player's car allowing it to become more difficult for other vehicles to push around, and induces a drift. This allows the player a limited amount of time to quickly maneuver the car out of difficult situations, or assess an escape route through a road block or spike strip blockade.[1] Another feature in Most Wanted are Pursuit Breakers, road-side objects which are designed to collapse when a player uses their car to knock down its support, either damaging or disabling following police cars (which can be visually seen in many cases). In one example, if a player smashes through a gas station, the roof of the station falls potentially crushing police units following them.[2] In order to evade the pursuit, players must get out of the pursuing police’s line of sight. This is accomplished by getting a certain distance away from the cops or by disabling the cops. Once the player has evaded the cops they enter Cooldown mode. During this time the player must avoid being detected/seen by the police; If the player is detected while in Cooldown mode the pursuit continues. Cooldown spots, areas in the world usually not seen from the street, can be used to hide from pursuers. If the player finds a hiding spot and stops they will spend significantly less time in Cooldown mode.


Online multiplayer is available on Xbox 360, Xbox, PC and PlayStation Portable. Up to 4 players can participate in an online race and can race in 4 game modes including circuit, sprint, lap knockout and speed trap. Furthermore, there is the option to enable Performance Matching in an online race. When performance matching is enabled, all cars in the race are automatically upgraded to match the performance (i.e. top speed, handling, etc.) of the fastest car in that particular race. However, as soon as the race is over all modifications made to the cars by performance matching are removed. The online multiplayer lobby was shut down on August 1, 2011.[1]


There are a wide range of cars available for the main Career mode of the game. Cars such as the Fiat Punto, Audi TT and Cadillac CTS are only seen in Most Wanted and tuners return from Underground 2 (e.g. Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7 and Mazda RX-8) but SUVs do not return except as non-playable police vehicles. Exotics like the Lotus Elise, Lamborghinis, Porsches make their first appearance since Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 and classic muscle cars featured in the Black Edition (e.g. Chevrolet Camaro) are new to the series. As the game progresses, better and faster cars are unlocked and races get faster and more intense as the player makes his/her way through the game. Cars must either be purchased at car lots or won by getting the pink slip to a Blacklist Racer's car, as detailed in the Modes section. Cars can be purchased at car lots in stock condition with no enhancement whatsoever. Not all of them are available or affordable for purchase at the beginning stages of Career mode and must be unlocked by defeating a certain Blacklist member. While the game features police cars, Most Wanted does not allow players to play as a pursuing police in chases. However, players may drive several police cars in Challenge mode, but are solely used in checkpoint races and police pursuits, where the police are still pursuing the player.

As in the preceding Underground installments, the performance and physical appearance of the player's car can be extensively modified, but options for exterior and interior modifications have been significantly reduced to only the essentials. The customization of side mirrors, lights, exhausts and individual body kit pieces were dropped from body customization. However, instead of individual body kit pieces, up to 6 whole body kits can be chosen, some of which widen the car's stance. The "Car Specialties" customization (including neon, nitrous purge, hydraulics, spinners, doors, split hoods, and trunk audio) have been completely eliminated with the exception of window tint and custom gauges. Paint customization is limited to the main body color (with mirror, exhaust, spoiler, roof scoop, and brake color options gone). Unlike the Underground games, visual customization is used to lower the car's "heat level", instead of increasing the car's "visual rating". Additionally, players are allowed to assume a sleeper appearance (leaving the exterior of the car unmodified or barely modified) for cars without penalty in Most Wanted.


The player arrives in Rockport City, driving a BMW M3 GTR (E46). Following Mia Townsend (played by Josie Maran), the player proves his driving prowess as he is pursued by a veteran police officer named Sergeant Cross (played by Dean McKenzie), who vows to take down the player and end street racing in Rockport.[2] Races seem to be in the player's favor until a particular group of racers, led by the game's antagonist, Clarence "Razor" Callahan (played by Derek Hamilton), sabotages and win the player's car in a race.[3][4] Without a car to escape in, the player is arrested by Cross, but is later released due to lack of evidence.[5] Mia picks up the player and then informs the player about Razor's new status on the Blacklist, a group of 15 drivers most wanted by the Rockport Police Department. She then helps by assisting the player in acquiring a new car and working his way up the Blacklist. Rivals are defeated one by one, and the player is rewarded with reputation, new rides, and ride improvements with every Blacklist member taken down. As new boroughs are opened up throughout Rockport (Rosewood, Camden Beach, and Downtown Rockport), Mia also sets up safehouses for the player to lie low in, in exchange for placement of "side bets" on the player's races.

The final challenge for the No. 1 spot on the Blacklist puts the player in a race against Razor, with the player emerging as the victor, thus reclaiming the BMW. When Razor refuses to relinquish ownership of the car and attacks Mia after she confiscates the keys from him, she subdues him, while revealing herself to be an Undercover Cop. Mia throws the keys to the player, and tells him to escape the incoming police force. Razor is taken into custody and the player is pursued by the entire Rockport Police Department under the command of Cross.[6]

The player manages to slip away from Cross and the cops and abandons Rockport City by launching the BMW over an old broken bridge pointed out by Mia and escapes from the town.[7] After the player's escape, Cross brings up the player's rap sheet and adds him to the National Most Wanted List. In addition to Razor, the entire Blacklist is arrested with the "help" of the player.[8]

Need for Speed: Carbon's storyline is a sequel set at an undetermined time after the events in Most Wanted.

Development and release

Promotional screenshot of Rockport's fall foliage of Most Wanted for the Xbox 360 with Porsche 911 Turbo S.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted 'Black Edition', a collector's edition of Most Wanted, was released in celebration of the Need for Speed series' 10th anniversary and in conjunction with the release of Most Wanted. The Black Edition features additional races, bonus cars and other additional content. The Black Edition also comes with a special feature DVD that contains interviews and videos about the game. The Black Edition was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox in the United States and Australia;[9] only the PlayStation 2 version of Black Edition was released additionally for Europe.[9][10]

The cutscenes in the game are live-action videos shot with real actors and set pieces, and CGI effects are added to car exteriors and environments for extra visual flair. The videos are presented in a significantly different style from the Underground series, and this presentation of cut scenes is used again in Carbon and Undercover.

The depiction between all of the versions graphics-wise is not the same especially on portable versions. The Microsoft Windows version varies by hardware and can look better compared to the console versions. The recommended hardware or above has a similar frame rate to the Xbox 360 version. The game makes heavy use of the HDRR and motion blur effects to give a more realistic feel. Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5–1–0 is a PlayStation Portable port of Most Wanted, released on the same day as its console and personal computer counterparts. Similar to Most Wanted, Most Wanted 5–1–0 features a similar Blacklist 15 listing and Career Mode, with the addition of "Tuner Takedown", a "Be the Cop" mode not featured on Most Wanted. Most Wanted 5–1–0 lacks many elements of its other console and PC counterparts, like cut scenes, a storyline and a free roam mode, and contains minor differences (including listing the real name of a Blacklist racer rather than his/her nickname). The title of the game is based on the numerals "5–1–0", which is the police code for street racing.

Most Wanted, like the Underground series, avoids the use of major vehicle damage on all racing models, with only scratched paint and heavily cracked windscreens comprising the whole of the racers' damage modeling. Police cars, however, are subject to extreme physical body damages. They can be immobilized if they flip over or have been heavily damaged by "pursuit breakers" and/or the player's car. EA eased support to the Windows version of the game very early in its life cycle. The latest patch for the Windows version (1.3) was released on December 6, 2005.[11]


NFS: MW Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Paul Linford
Released 2006[12]
Recorded 2004–2005
Label EA
Need For Speed soundtrack chronology
NFS:U2 Soundtrack
NFS:MW Soundtrack
NFS:C Soundtrack
Singles from NFS:MW Soundtrack
  1. "Shapeshifter"
    Released: 2005

As in other EA Black Box Need for Speed games, Most Wanted's soundtrack comprises a licensed selection of Underground hip hop, metalcore and electronica/techno music.[13] Additionally, Paul Linford provided interactive scores for police pursuit sessions.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 82% (23 reviews)[14]
Metacritic 82 out of 100 (19 reviews)[15]
Review scores
Publication Score A-[16]
Game Informer 8.5 out of 10[17]
Game Revolution B+[18]
GameSpot 8.4 out of 10[19]
GameSpy 4/5 stars[20]
IGN 8.5 out of 10[21]
Official Xbox Magazine 9.5/10
PC Gamer US 98 out of 100[citation needed]
PC Zone 88 out of 100[citation needed]

Need for Speed: Most Wanted has received positive reviews. It has an aggregate score of 82 out of 100 on both Metacritic and Game Rankings. GameSpot, who gave the game an 8.4 out of 10, praised the game for its "sharp graphics" and "outstanding sound effects", but criticized the AI for being "too easy at first, but too hard later on". Most Wanted was a commercial success; it sold nearly six million copies worldwide.

IGN gave it an 8.5 out of 10 "great" rating, praising almost every element of the game. Praise was given to the map design, described as "a crazily chromed out, sepia-tone landscape of industrial structures", car modeling, saying "The car models are especially sleek looking too", the car line up and the return of exotics. Particularly strong praise was given to the police system, saying "The cops are never that smart, but they continually grow in aggressiveness and numbers." and "they add that very necessary component of challenge, annoyance, and heat that makes this game so fun". Praise even went to the cut scenes and their casting, which usually falls victim to critics, saying "this mixture of animated, highly colored FMV characters and stylized backgrounds is both imaginative and refreshing".[22]


  1. ^ "EA closing 18 online multiplayer services". Eurogamer. July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "FMV titled "6 days ago.""
  3. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "FMV titled "Present day.""
  4. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "FMV titled "Some time later..." Mia: Razor set you up. He messed with your car."
  5. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "FMV titled "Some time later..." Mia: I heard they didn't have enough on you. Guess it's hard to nail you for street racing when you don't have a ride."
  6. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "Final FMV played after defeating Razor in the game."
  7. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "5 minutes into the final pursuit, Mia calls revealing the bridge."
  8. ^ Electronic Arts. Need for Speed: Most Wanted. (Electronic Arts). PlayStation 2. (November 15, 2005) "About 12 seconds into the final pursuit, Cross calls the player. Cross: Hey Hotshot! Hey thanks for helping us out! We've been able to pickup every blacklist racer thanks to you!"
  9. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Black Edition) release information". MobyGames. Retrieved September 22, 2006. 
  10. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted release information (PlayStation 2 version)". GameSpot. Retrieved September 23, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted patch 1.3". The Software Patch. Retrieved September 22, 2006. 
  12. ^ Need For Speed: Most Wanted: EA Games Soundtrack: MP3 Downloads
  13. ^ Need for Speed Most Wanted Soundtrack Revealed
  14. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted for PC". Game Rankings. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted for PC". Metacritic. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review at 1UP". 1UP. Retrieved August 3, 2008. 
  17. ^ Mason, Lisa. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review at Game Informer". Game Informer. Retrieved February 12, 2007. [dead link]
  18. ^ Ferris, Duke. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review at Game Revolution". Game Revolution. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  19. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review at GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  20. ^ Osborne, Scott. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review at GameSpy". GameSpy. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  21. ^ Perry, Douglass. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review at IGN". IGN. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  22. ^ "IGN review for the PS2 version". 

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