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5 Reasons Need For Speed: Most Wanted Is Best On Vita

Posted on Monday, November 5 @ 18:59:35 Eastern by
Sure, Electronic Arts might get a bad rap. So maybe Syndicate wasn't everything you'd hoped and dreamed. That doesn't mean the publisher can't crank out a winner. Regardless of how much I enjoyed Need For Speed: Most Wanted on PS3, I keep going back to the game's handheld version on Sony's PlayStation Vita.

The giant 5" screen, analog sticks, and stunning graphics make for an enticing package, but it's plain as day that developers have to treat the Vita well if they want to create compelling experiences for on-the-go gamers. Here are five reasons Need For Speed: Most Wanted excels on Vita. Take note, competitors:


Connected Experiences

If you do spring for both versions of Need For Speed: Most Wanted, you'll notice a host of unlocks already available to you if you've been playing the console or Vita more frequently. While races and Most Wanted cars are not necessarily available to you right off the bat, the events will be open to you from the starting line. That's because your overall SpeedPoint tally carries over. The few differences on Vita mean you'll have to race against the computer again, but doing so will even further propel you up the SpeedWall.

Dominating your friends doesn't have to stop when you leave your couch.


Frames Per Second

It can seem like a small annoyance, but dropped frame rates on handheld ports is a dealbreaker. Creating a seamless transition between each version of the game is key to get the full experience no matter where you are.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted trounces the competition, and it's a good thing too. With a game laser-focused on presenting incredible speed and split-second hazards, you'll need a smooth refresh rate to keep players in control and engaged. Most Wanted does this in spades on Vita, smartly dialing back traffic and competitors to ensure a buttery-smooth frame rate.


Online Multiplayer Too

Gamers shouldn't have to settle for less-than on their handhelds. Allowing users to take the full experience with them on the go is key to Sony's success with the Vita. In fact, I would argue that their own developers are not taking sufficient advantage of this value opportunity on a regular basis. It's true that many titles are in the pipeline, some of which are taking advantage of the Cross-Buy promotion, but it's not enough.

That's why Sony should give thanks for Electronic Arts and Criterion's near perfect-match feature set on Vita. With the exception of the aforementioned lighter traffic and slightly lower multiplayer count, there's truly nothing missing. When you hop online and race against a few friends all from the comfort of your bed, Starbucks, or, hell, the bathroom, the experience can be breathtaking.


Criterion's Sense of Speed

I said it in my review, but it bears echoing here that Criterion's excellent sense of power, control, and speed is evident in Most Wanted like every other title from the house that Burnout built. This rings true on PlayStation Vita too. The environment flies by at a blistering clip and jumps can send cars catapulting through the air with velocity to spare.

In some ways, I would even dare say that the Vita is more successful in this regard. That's primarily because it's easy to get sucked into the large OLED screen. You might say that that's a Vita feature, but it's up to developers to exploit any system's big bullet points properly.


One-To-One Controls

For my final point, good developers make good games with what they have. A handheld like the Vita needs software to move, but that software has to be entertaining, engaging, and conveniently paced. Moreover, handheld ports must control like their console brethren.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted does this by ditching gimmicky touch screen controls to focus on the dual analog sticks, shoulder buttons, and various face buttons. If you've mastered feathering the brake pedal to drift around hairpin turns on PS3 or 360, you'll find those skills translate perfectly because your thumbs will feel right at home on the Vita.

Obviously we really like the PlayStation Vita, but it can seem like developers are ignoring the device to focus on mobile engagement and other hit-and-miss tactics at keeping players hooked in. I applaud Criterion Games for supporting the Vita, but also for doing it better than perhaps any other developer on the scene today. Let's hope more studios see Need For Speed: Most Wanted and learn from the successes in my favorite racing game of 2012.
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