A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.
While clearly rooted in fiction, the game encourages drivers to race recklessly around a city and avoid the police who pursue you. In fact, you can also smash the police into objects or cut them off and earn points for doing so. As a result, this game does not give a good positive message.
Positive Role Models
You do not play as any one character in particular other than a generic "driver." You're simply taking on racing challenges spread throughout a large and interactive city. But because you're rewarded for evading the police or causing them to crash, you aren't a good role model.
Ease of Play
Unlike many other driver games, Need For Speed: Most Wanted has many assists that make the game easier to play. This includes handling the car as well as finding and upgrading other cars. If you want more control, you can turn off these aids.
Violence & Scariness
The game has many crash scenes, often slowed down for dramatic effect. You can cause other cars to crash, including the police, but no one gets hurt in this game. You can smash into oncoming traffic, but you're penalized for doing so as you'll fall behind in the race to the finish.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some suggestive business signs can be seen throughout the city, such as a delivery company like FedEx called "GoodsEX" (say it out loud and you'll get it). There is also a massage parlor sign with a company called Roman Hands.
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Products & Purchases
This game has more than 100 licensed cars -- such as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi -- but the town name is fictitious, as are the billboards that advertise products. The music soundtrack features real artists.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some ads for alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Need of Speed: Most Wanted is an arcade-style racing game that encourages reckless driving. Drivers try to break the rules and evade the police and get rewarded for it. The game also has an option for open chat that is unmoderated.
Is It Any Good?
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is great fun for those old enough to understand that this isn't how car drivers should behave. Along with the fast and furious single-player game modes -- like Ambush, Sprint Race, Speed Run, and Circuit race -- online multiplayer bumps up the fun even further. But be aware you need to sign up for Electronic Arts’ Origin game service to play against others. It’s free, but mandatory, and some gamers aren’t thrilled about it (this is on top of the Xbox Live or PlayStation Network service). You can then challenge friends to games or a number of consecutive events, or compare your skills with others thanks to EA’s Autolog 2.0 technology that displays all of your stats -- including times, record speeds, pursuits, jump distances, achievements, and more.
Overall, Need For Speed: Most Wanted is a visceral thrill. Not only do you get to race and modify many different dream cars, but it’s an open world with a number of areas, collectibles and game modes to explore. Plus, instead of having to wait to drive the cars you want –- which is how most car racing games work –- practically every car is available from the get-go in Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The game’s motto is “if you can find it, you can drive it,” therefore you’re rewarded for venturing out in Fairhaven.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.