A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is about illegal street racing. This installment includes a new major game dynamic: smashing police pursuers and outrunning them. Other new feature: The game now has an online component, which Common Sense Media does not recommend for anyone under 12. In offline gameplay, players will encounter some light sexual innuendo as well as a fair amount of commercialism in the form of real-life cars and in-game ads.
- Parents say
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What's it about?
NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED turns freeways and neighborhood streets into racetracks. The single-player game is dominated by a Career Mode, in which players challenge a collection of street racers known as the Blacklist 15. Players must complete a series of driving challenges before they can compete with each member of the Blacklist.
Players roam freely, selecting challenges as they encounter them, and they have the option to simply jump to a challenge from a safe-house garage. The challenges include an impressive variety of races, such as head-to-head contests against other drivers and beat-the-clock timed runs along highways. Tangling with the cops adds "heat" to a player's car, making future chases more difficult but also winning bounty points and improving the player's reputation.
Is it any good?
Need For Speed provides a nice variety of customizable cars that look and sound great. Many have noticeably different driving characteristics. The sense of speed ramps up accordingly, and the controls are generally responsive within the absurd allowances of arcade racing (due to very noticeable "rubber banding," challengers are usually never too far away, no matter how well players drive).
The Career Mode is quite lengthy and should provide at least 15 hours of gameplay. But if players tire of it, they can compete in Challenge Modes (things like creating the costliest damage possible) or take the racing online. Flying through back alleys and across sidewalks produces plenty of vicarious thrills in this excellent arcade racer, but the game does celebrate illegal and dangerous behavior. Parents may want to think carefully before giving this one the green light.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dangers of street racing and irresponsible driving. When a high speed car crash left a Canadian man dead, a police officer made the game partially to blame. Do you agree? Does playing a game like this make illegal actions seem more attractive in real life? Should game makers stop glamorizing destructive and illegal activities?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.