Need for Speed took a drastic turn in its gameplay model last year. However, developer Criterion steered the franchise back on track and created one of the most accessible and fun racing games I have played in years.
Need for Speed Most Wanted treats fans of the franchise to a beautiful open city to romp around in. Having access to most of the cars from the beginning is a treat; instead of having to get so far through the game to unlock the Corvette, you just have to find it.
There are also billboards, which are both addicting to find and a distraction when you are on your way somewhere in particular.If all of that isn’t enough, Criterion has designed a near-flawless multiplayer environment by simply dumping people into the open city and allowing them to play around however they want while they wait for the next event to begin. It all comes together as one of the best entries in the franchise in years, and the best racing experience in 2012.
-Don Parsons, PR Manager
Runner-up: Forza Horizon
Over the past decade Microsoft has done a phenomenal job of building the Forza Motorsport series into the premier simulation racing franchise on consoles. Forza Horizon brings that same level of quality to players but presents it in the much more palatable format of an open-world racer. Giving players a huge open-world to explore, tons of unique events to take part in, a majestic selection of automobiles to drive, and complete control over exactly how one wants their experience to pan out, makes Forza a phenomenal driving game. However it is that last part that makes Forza shine above its competitors, because, while many things try to be everything to everyone, Forza Horizon actually does it. Hardcore driving fans can have an authentic experience with the game while more casual ones can play it as a straight arcade racer and all of it comes together in one amazingly fun package.
-Chris Scott, Reviews Editor