Eat my GamePad's dust.
Despite its best efforts, the Wii U has fallen into a devious trap. Launching a console and then failing to capitalize on eager consumers with entertaining software is a cardinal sin of video game hardware. Thankfully, EA is here with another port of one of their best games from 2012. While Mass Effect 3 made the Wii U launch window, Criterion Games has readied a port of their Most Wanted reboot just in time for Spring.
I quite liked the original PS3, Xbox 360, and PC release, writing in my original review: "[A]t times Most Wanted elicits the hungriest of addictions, feeding on the player's desire to beat more and more friends. While a few gamers might find the ride too fast or too arcade-y, racing fans of all shapes and sizes will find hours and hours of fantastic rivalries." Thankfully that's true of this port, but there's also a handful of new features for citizens of Fairhaven who think they've seen everything.
Like any great Wii U game, Most Wanted U is entirely playable on the GamePad. That's the first box I check off when an older game comes to Nintendo's new console. Hitting the Plus and Minus buttons sends the TV image to your hands, where graphics remain crisp and the frame rate stays fast, although it can be harder to see due to the smaller screen size.
Most Wanted U greases the wheels with your significant others by letting you continue your addictive drive to dominate Fairhaven whether Survivor is on or not. Still, maybe your roommate or girlfriend would rather be a backseat driver than watch TV. That's possible too with the new Co-op driving mode, one of my favorite additions to a port of all time.
With co-op driving, you give the non-gamer in your life the GamePad and take control of the action onscreen with a Wii remote and nunchuk or a Pro Controller. On the GamePad, your partner can provide navigation waypoints to help find Jackspots, races, and more. The GamePad also allows the second player to control the night and day cycle, adjust performance on your car, or even control the traffic on the road.
My better half took the GamePad the other night and immediately slid the traffic control to MAX, conveniently as I approached a busy intersection at 100 mph. While she laughed at the absurd wreck on the screen, I was more eager to try another co-op driving feature. Scratching and nudging my way through traffic, I invariably tipped off the aggressive police AI and took to a few backwoods roads I knew well from other versions of Most Wanted.
My co-op driver switched to the map screen and instinctively started tapping on the pack of cops hoping to bring me to justice. This slowed the police or outright disabled their cars, allowing me to escape and reap a huge SpeedPoint reward. You might want to be careful who you invite to navigate for you though, as the co-op driver can also influence your steering.
Criterion related this mode to the way a Father and Son might race around the city together, and truly it works. It's an engaging, meaningful way to involve a secondary player too intimidated to play himself or herself but interested enough so that they want you to share the experience.
Even if you're an old hand at Most Wanted at this point (my SpeedPoint total across Xbox 360, PS3, and PC versions was already a ridiculous amount), the ability to control the traffic or cops, and the ability to easy locate hidden cars are worth revisiting Fairhaven. Criterion's also used the extra time to make the Wii U the best-ooking console version, complete with textures from the PC release and a few tweaks to the way night and day look in game.
While I did experience a few audio glitches, it's nothing that can't be patched out, and you'll likely want to provide your own soundtrack anyway. I couldn't be happier with this port to the Wii U and Nintendo gamers who haven't tried their hand at Most Wanted's go-anywhere, race-everything experience simply have to jump in now. Need For Speed: Most Wanted U is the best racing game you'll see on the fledgling console until the next Mario Kart game.
Copy provided by publisher. Based on Wii U version. Also available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.