Need for Speed: Most Wanted
takes the series back to it's roots by bringing back police chases that made the original games in the series so much fun. At the same time, it also retains the street racing elements that made the Underground
series popular. The game's single-player mode puts you in the role of a newcomer to the fictional city of Rockport. Not long after your arrival, you catch the eye of a girl, Mia, who takes a special interest in your carrier. You also attract the attention of the local P.D. and local racer, Razor -- who you eventually challenge. However, Razor plays dirty, and sabotages your car during a pink slip race and, after taking your car, leaves you to the mercy of the police. To add insult to injury, Razor then uses your car to win his way to the top of the Blacklist, a list of the top 15 racers in the city. After Mia springs you from jail, she sets you up with a new ride and the job of working your way up the Blacklist and challenging Razor.
Earning a shot at Blacklist racers isn't as easy as walking up to them and asking for a race. Instead, you need to catch their attention by completing race events, reaching milestones and racking up a bounty. Each Blacklister has a certain number of events that must be completed before they'll race you. All events are broken up into three categories and include a variety of types. Races include standard Circuit and Sprint races as well as Speed Trap, Toll Booth, and Drag Races. Speed Trap races pit you against three other racers as you go through a series of radar detectors. The object isn't to reach the finish line first, but to post the best accumulated speed total. Toll Booth is your typical checkpoint race where you need to hit toll booths before time runs out. Drag races are more about skill and timing than anything else and require you to time your shifting with an on-screen indicator.
Milestone and Bounty events are intertwined and involve what is Most Wanted's most enjoyable aspect, police chases. Nearly every Milestone involves the police, though the conditions behind each are usually unique. Some require you to survive police chases of a certain length while others require you to escape one in a set amount of time. Other milestones include things like running through so many roadblocks, taking out police cruisers or causing a set amount of monetary damage to the state. Police chases are set on five tiers, each being more harrowing than the first. Every police pursuit begins with you crossing paths with normal police cruisers, only to lead up to bigger things like highway patrol, the Street Racing Task Force and Rhino SUVs. String the police on long enough and they'll bring out the helicopter, which you can only avoid by taking short cuts through buildings.
Evading puts a price on your head. The more run-ins you have with the police, the higher your Bounty goes. If you're unable to lose the police, you'll have to pay a stiff fine and also earn impound strikes. Earn three impound strikes and your car is taken from you. Also, the police keep track of your car, which ups the chances of you losing your car after being caught. A higher "Heat Level" also means that you'll have to pay more to get your car back and pay a larger fine to get out of jail, taking away from your cash pool and reducing the number of upgrades and new cars you can buy. Generally, it is a good idea to have at least two to three cars so you can switch them out and reduce the Heat level on any one car.