Need for Speed Most Wanted is a lovely experience on the consoles. Criterion took a franchise that was treasured to many (like myself) and modernized it for an open, addicting, and social experience. Instead of passing Most Wanted on the Playstation Vita off to another studio, Criterion worked on it themselves and it shows.
After playing hours on the console version of Need for Speed Most Wanted (read my review here), and then popping that tiny Vita card into the system, you’ll be greeted with pretty much the same game. The only changes are a few less cars on the road at any given time and the amount of players that can be playing online at the same time. That’s it. The rest of the game is the same as the console version, only portable.
This portable version of the console game has a big disadvantage. Part of the fun of Most Wanted is exploring and finding things such as billboards, jack spots, and gates. The problem, at least in my old age, is that these things don’t catch your eye like they do on the consoles – at least not while you’re going 90 mph down the road. The Vita does an amazing job at providing a console-like experience, but in this case it just wasn’t enough to make me take it seriously because I couldn’t cruise around at 60 mph (anything slower feels like a crawl in such a vast world) and explore like I could on my Playstation 3.
There’s also a bit of a missed opportunity with a lack of PS3 to Vita connectivity. While SP (“speed points”, the points you earn as you play the game to rise up the leaderboard) carries over, all of the billboards I smashed through in the PS3 version did not. That would have completely made up for issue I had with not being able to notice them as well on the small screen.
Visuals also take a hit, though it still looks great most of the time. But when flying down the highway at 150 mph, textures begin to blur (and not in an “omg I’m going so fast!!!!” kind of way). It didn’t bother me, but don’t expect those crisp, beautiful visuals from the Playstation 3/Xbox 360/PC.
The Vita version does, however, provide a great way to boost SP, which carries over to whatever console you are playing on. These “cloud points” are a genuine perk to Vita owners who are playing on the console and want to rake in SP from work or where ever else you game away from your television/monitor.
Race structure is also a perk, as there are’nt any (well, besides a few Wanted racers, the “boss” racers if you will) races that run ridiculously long like in past games. It’s the same as the console (only there are a few exclusive races) but the way races are laid out translates well to a handheld. Remember some of those 12-15 minute long races in older games?
If you *only* opt to buy the Vita version, the problem I mentioned before may not be as much of an issue. The Vita version of Need for Speed Most Wanted could quite possibly be just as epic, but comparing the two platforms side-by-side, it falters just a bit. It is still a great experience, and the analog stick does a far better job of delivering sensitive range of movements as opposed to the nub on the PSP (note: I hated that thing). Need for Speed Most Wanted may not be the same exhilarating, exploration game it is on the consoles, but it opens your Vita up for an action-packed racing game that the system needed this holiday season.