You're the hottest thing on the streets. Hot car. Hot attitude. Hot female admirer. Problem is, you're about to lose everything. After sabotaging your car and beating you to the finish line, a rival racer named Razor takes your pride, your ride, and your girl. So what are you going to do about it? Lucky for you, pouty-lipped, smoky-eyed Mia is still around to help. The goal of Need For Speed: Most Wanted is to make it to the top of the "black list," a roll-call of the toughest street racers in town. To do this, players complete challenges, boost their reputations by pulling more "heat" from the local police, and eventually beat other black-list racers. Street-culture drama runs high throughout the game, and each opponent has a unique bad-ass approach.
Whether you're working your way to the top in Need For Speed's rewarding career mode, battling friends in quick mode, or just showing off your ride in a drag race, all of your driving is done in the city of Rockport. The local music isn't great, but plenty of other gameplay elements promise to entertain. Racing-sims fans will be happy to know about the wide range of customizable licensed cars. For arcade-racer types, the game offers a number of possibilities for good old-fashioned destruction—from smashing into strategically-placed destructible objects which help you distract the police, to the dime-a-dozen thrill of watching signposts fly past your windshield.
Beyond the game: Using live-action cutscenes can be dangerous—and tacky. But Need For Speed pulls it off with style. Cool effects and edgy aesthetics make this title fun to watch, not just to play.
Worth playing for: The hilarious banter on the police radio. Listen to a running commentary as worrisome cops chase you, try to corner you, or just observe your carnage.
Frustration sets in when: Touchy controls control you right into a wall. If that isn't bad enough, correcting your heavy vehicles often takes more precious seconds than you can afford to lose.
Final judgment: Whether you like racing sims, arcade racers, or just hot chicks who drive cars, there's something here for you.