Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005 video game)

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Need for Speed Most Wanted Box Art.jpg
Cover art featuring a BMW M3 GTR (E46)
Developer(s)EA Canada, EA Black Box
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Composer(s)Paul Linford
SeriesNeed for Speed
Platform(s)Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox, Xbox 360
ReleaseNintendo DS
  • EU: November 11, 2005
  • NA: November 15, 2005
Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, & Xbox
  • NA: November 15, 2005
  • EU: November 25, 2005
  • AU: 2005
Xbox 360
  • NA: November 22, 2005[1]
  • EU: December 2, 2005
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a 2005 open world racing video game, and the ninth installment in the Need for Speed series. Developed by EA Canada and published by Electronic Arts, it was released on November 11, 2005, for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Advance and Xbox 360. An additional version, entitled Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0, was released in the same year for PlayStation Portable. The game focus on street racing-oriented game play involving a selection of events and racing circuits found within the fictional city of Rockport, with the game's main story involving players taking on the city's most elite street racers to become the most wanted racer of the group.

Most Wanted brought in many notable improvements and additions over other entries in the series, including improved customization options for cars, and more in-depth police pursuits. Certain editions of the game were also packaged with the ability for online multiplayer gaming. Upon its release, the game received positive reviews and became a commercial success, selling 16 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling title in the series. The game received a collector's edition entitled Black Edition which provided additional content for the game, and was succeeded by Need for Speed: Carbon, a sequel to the game's story, in 2006. A virtual edition of the PlayStation 2 game was made available for PlayStation 3 via the PlayStation Store in May 2012, but was discontinued from the storefront later that year. A reboot of the game, developed by Criterion Games, was released in October 2012.


In the game, players take part in illegal street races across Most Wanted's setting, utilizing a variety of licensed real-world cars (available at the time of the game's development and release) that can be upgraded and customized with new parts, while contending with the involvement of the police in their efforts to impede the player. Racing events feature a mixture of competitive racing across circuit or point-to-point races, and checkpoint, sprint and drag races. The game features three modes of play - Career, Quick Race, and Challenge Series - with a fourth mode allowing for multiplayer being available to players on certain console editions. While many of the racing events feature those used in previous entries in the games, particularly the Underground set of games, some events - Drifting, Street X, Underground Racing League tournaments and Outrun - are absent from Most Wanted, and replaced with two new ones. The first event is "Tollbooth", a checkpoint-styled solo race, in which players must hit a set of checkpoints, each one within a set amount of time; reaching a checkpoint quickly adds the time left over to the timer for the next checkpoint. The second event is "Speedtrap", in which players compete in a competitive checkpoint race, and must hit each checkpoint at their fastest speed; upon crossing the finishing line, each checkpoint's total speed is totalled together to determine the winner.

The game's selection of licensed real-world cars vary in performances in three categories - Top Speed, Handling, and Acceleration - with each car assigned to a categories that focuses on a generalised performance category - Exotic, focused on Top Speed; Muscle, focused on Acceleration; Tuner, focused on Handling. The game features a selection of stock cars to choose from, each of which can be modified during the game's main mode with upgrades to enhance it performance and visual appearance. Customization of the car's appearance is limited - while some elements that were possible in previous game were removed, other received minor changes such as players being able to make use of whole body kits on cars, the use of only one vinyl for the vehicle, and paint colors being limited to the car's main body. Additional cars are also available for the player to use - most require for them to be acquired from the game's Blacklist Racers, while others are bonuses available from completing challenges; a number of others available in the game are exclusives added in by the Black Edition version of the game. Police cars cannot be driven in the game, except during special events with the game's Challenge Series mode. Most Wanted, like the Underground series, avoids the use of major vehicle damage on all racing models, with only scratched paint and heavily cracked windshields constituting the whole of the racers' damage modeling.

During races and the game's Career mode, players can make use of Nitrous Boosts to help give them an edge against opponents. Unlike in Underground, which first introduced the gameplay mechanic, Nitrous Boosts recharge over time, thus allowing player to re-use when needed. Players can also use a second ability to help out in tough situations called "Speedbreaker" - when used, the ability slows down time (similar to bullet time), induces drifting and momentarily increase the weight of the player's vehicle to make it harder to be pushed around, thus allowing players to maneuver their vehicle out of a difficult situation.

Police Pursuit[edit]

The player's car, a Porsche Carrera GT, is being pursued by several undercover state police cars and a police helicopter in Free Roam mode. This screen-shot also depicts the use of simulated HDRR on the sunny sky and surface lighting.

While the concept of players being engaged by police was first introduced in Hot Pursuit 2, the development of Most Wanted saw the gameplay mechanic enhanced and firmly introduced into the series through the employment of a complex system. When players become engaged in a police pursuit, usually from conducting a traffic offence (referred to as "Infractions" in the game) in sight of a police unit (such as speeding), their aim at this point is to escape from the pursuit by either evading or taking out pursuing vehicles. The game's on-screen HUD is modified during a pursuit, including highlighting pursuing police units on the mini-map, displaying the vehicle's heat level, and adding a Pursuit bar at the bottom detailing the number of police units in the pursuit, how many have been evaded, and how many have been taken out. The pursuit system calculates how the police handle the player via the heat level accumulated against the player's current car. Heat accumulates from committing offences and continually evading capture by the police, with higher levels of heat causing the police to be more aggressive, from employing additional tactics and tools (such as roadblocks, spike strips, and police helicopters), to involving stronger, faster police cars such as police SUVs and Federal units. If a player has only one car actively pursuing them, reinforcements may be called in and arrive after a period of time.

Players can lose the police through skillful driving, making use of their special abilities, ramming pursuing vehicles and utilizing "Pursuit Breakers" - environmental traps, highlighted on the mini-map, which when triggered cause a certain number of police vehicles to be taken out of action, such as smashing through a gas station. Evading and losing the police - either by disabling/immobilizing vehicles, gaining some distance from pursuers, or a combination of both - does not end a pursuit, once there are no more active vehicles. Instead, the player enters a "cooldown" period when this happens, which pauses the pursuit (and any reinforcements being called in), in which they must hide and avoid being spotted by police for a period of time. The length of time for this period is longer at higher levels of heat, but can be decreased significantly if the player reaches and hides in special concealment spots around the game's setting, which are marked on the mini-map during this phase and place them out of sight of police units. A pursuit fully ends when the player successfully escapes the police, or is overwhelmed and trapped, and thus "busted" as a result.

Career Mode[edit]

In the game's main mode, the objective is to race against each of the setting's major street racers (or Blacklist Racer) and defeat them. Initially, players begin by completing a tutorial sequence of events to ease players into the game, whereupon they must choose a car to use for the rest of the game. The selection available is limited, but more become available as the player defeats each Blacklist racer, including better performance upgrades for these, with players able to sell any car acquired at any time during the game - cars can be bought at car lots, while upgrades and customization parts can be bought at garages. Events in this mode are divided into two categories - Racing events, and Milestones. While Racing events focus on the game's main series of racing events which earns money when won, Milestones focus on completing specific objectives, most of which usually involve being involved in a police pursuit and raising the player's Bounty - a form of currency detailing how much trouble the player has caused for the police in the game's setting, based on the number of offences and damage to property they had caused. An example of a Milestone can be the player being required to enter a police pursuit and then attempting to escape it within a set amount of time.

Police pursuits in this mode can occur in Free Roam, during a race, or from activating one in the game's pause menu - the latter can be done only if there are any Milestones yet to be completed. Although police units will mainly impede a player if they begin pursuing them in a race, they will attempt to arrest them when in Free Roam. If the police achieve this, the player is fined based on their heat level, which is reset, and their car is given an impound strike - if the player cannot pay their fine, or receive a third strike on their car, it is impounded and lost; losing all of their cars this way and having no money to buy a new one, automatically ends the game. If the player escapes pursuit, the car retains the heat level it accumulated, but can lose this by either having its visual looks changed, or driving in another vehicle for a period of time. Players can view a statistic screen at any time during this mode to view their records regarding infractions, cost to state, deployed tactics and pursuit lengths.

To take on each Blacklist Racer, players must complete events and Milestones associated to them, whereupon they must win against the racer in a successive series of races - the number increases as the player progresses in the story. Defeating a Blacklist Racer not only unlocks the next opponent and a new series of events, along with new Milestones to achieve, but also unlocks additional cars and upgrade parts as well, along with allowing the player to claim two rewards from them. Each Blacklist Racer has six rewards they can offer when defeated. While three of these rewards consist of special customization parts and unique performance upgrades, the other three, concealed from the player until selected, consist of the racer's personal car - a uniquely modified vehicle - and two randomly selected bonus functions - extra money; impound recovery of lost vehicles; a "get-out-of-jail-free-card"; the removal of an impound strike on any car. Any component Markers selected can be acquired by visiting the garages after returning to Free Roam. In addition, defeating specific Blacklist Racers also unlock access to the other districts of the city - the player has access to one district to begin with, but unlocks more as they progress in the game, including additional safehouses.

Quick Race, Challenge Series and multiplayer[edit]

In Quick Race mode, players can enter any event they wish and use any car that they want, while opting to either make custom parameters for the event (i.e. number of laps), or let the game create a random set of parameters. The number of events and cars to choose from depend on the player's progress in the game's Career mode.

In Challenge Series mode, players take part in a successive series of events, in which completing one unlocks the next event. While around half of these are focused on checkpoint races, the other consist of a mixture of pursuit events akin to the Milestone events in Career Mode, with each event tasking the player to complete its goal using a specific vehicle on a specific route/from a starting position, and beginning on a certain level of heat. Vehicles for each event are pre-tuned, and range from various cars available in Career mode, to those not accessible such as dump trucks and police cars. Completing specific challenges reward the player with bonus cars for use in Career and Quick Race mode.

Multiplayer in Most Wanted consists of online modes, which were available for the Xbox 360, Xbox, PC and PlayStation Portable editions of the game. Up to 4 players can participate in an online race and can race in 4 game modes including circuit, sprint, lap knockout and speed trap. Furthermore, there is the option to enable Performance Matching in an online race - all cars in the race are automatically upgraded to match the performance (i.e. top speed, handling, etc.) of the fastest car in that particular race. However, as soon as the race is over, all modifications made to the cars by performance matching are removed. The online multiplayer lobby was shut down on August 1, 2011,[2] though it is still possible to play the game in multiplayer, but through an unofficial, open beta modification called "Most Wanted Online".



The fictional city of Rockport consists of three major districts (Rosewood, Camden Beach and Downtown Rockport) consisting of grimy industrial areas, more affluent suburbs, mountainous and wooded surroundings, a university campus, and a downtown core, with a mixture of road networks ranging from coastal roads to major highways. The setting is heavily influenced by cities in the United States' "Rust Belt" and Pacific Northwest with some resemblance to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Much of the game's events and story take place in a fixed time-period between sunrise and sunset, compared to previous title that took place at night.


The player arrives in Rockport in a custom-painted BMW M3 GTR, hoping to take part in the city's illegal street racing scene. Upon arriving, they meet with Mia Townsend (Josie Maran), who offers to help them get started, while crossing paths with Sergeant Nathan Cross (Dean McKenzie) - the city's top traffic officer in the Rockport Police Department (RPD) who drives a custom-painted Chevrolet Corvette police interceptor - who seeks to bring down the "Blacklist", a group of the fifteen most-wanted drivers sought by the RPD.[3] Mia helps the player to compete with other street racers, soon bringing them to the attention of Clarence "Razor" Callahan (Derek Hamilton), the 15th ranked member of the Blacklist, who engages them in a "pink slip" race. Despite the player's success, the car breaks down during the race due the engine seizing from a lack of oil, causing them to lose. Razor soon claims the car for himself, before he and the other racers flee, leaving the player at the mercy of Cross and the RPD.[4][5]

After some time, the player is released from custody due to a lack of evidence, and is picked up by Mia. She explains that Razor sabotaged their car to win it, and used it to become #1 on the Blacklist. Providing the player with a safehouse and helping them buy a new car, Mia recommends that the player works up the Blacklist themselves, defeating each of its racers, in order to challenge Razor and win back their original car.[6] In exchange for her help, including the involvement of Rog - a male racer the player befriended before the loss of their BMW - Mia asks for the unquestioned placement of large "side bets" on the player's street races. As the player makes progress, Rog contacts the player to inform them that Mia's bets are earning her large amounts of money that will likely attract RPD's attention, and suggests they keep their distance from her.

Eventually the player becomes #2 on the Blacklist and attracts Razor's attention from the reputation they have accumulated over time, culminating in the pair racing against each other. The player manages to defeat Razor and recover their car from him, but quickly learn that Mia is an undercover police officer for the RPD, who had been working to bring down the Blacklist from the inside for Cross.[7] As the RPD begin to arrive on the scene, Mia advises the player to run, as Razor and the Blacklist racers are arrested, despite several of them trying to flee when they realize Mia lured them into the RPD's ambush. Cross, angered at Mia's inaction to arrest the player as well, calls in a city-wide police hunt for them.[8] Unable to return to their safehouses, the player finds themselves aggressively pursued around the city. Mia soon contacts them, directing them to jump a derelict bridge outside the city limits. The player successfully evade the cops by reaching it and leaves Rockport.[9] In a post-credits scene, Cross creates a national-level warrant for the player and their BMW, adding them to the National Most Wanted List.

Development and release[edit]

Promotional screenshot of Rockport's fall foliage of Most Wanted for the Xbox 360 with Porsche 911 Turbo S.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted 'Black Edition', a collector's edition of Most Wanted, was released in celebration of the Need for Speed series' 10th anniversary and in conjunction with the release of Most Wanted. The Black Edition features additional races, bonus cars and other additional content. The Black Edition also comes with a special feature DVD that contains interviews and videos about the game. The Black Edition was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2 and Xbox in the United States and Australia;[10] only the PlayStation 2 version of Black Edition was released additionally for Europe.[10][11]

The cutscenes in the game are live-action videos shot with real actors and set pieces, and CGI effects are added to car exteriors and environments for extra visual flair. The videos are presented in a significantly different style from the Underground series, and this presentation of cut scenes is used again in Carbon and Undercover.

The depiction between all of the versions graphics-wise is not the same especially on portable versions. The Microsoft Windows version varies by hardware and can look better compared to the console versions. The recommended hardware or above has a similar frame rate to the Xbox 360 version. The game makes heavy use of the HDRR and motion blur effects to give a more realistic feel.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0 is a PlayStation Portable port of Most Wanted, released on the same day as its console and personal computer counterparts. Similar to Most Wanted, Most Wanted 5-1-0 features a similar Blacklist 15 listing and Career Mode, with the addition of "Tuner Takedown", a "Be the Cop" mode not featured on Most Wanted. Most Wanted 5-1-0 lacks many elements of its other console and PC counterparts, like cut scenes, a storyline and a free roam mode, and contains minor differences (including listing the real name of a Blacklist racer rather than his/her nickname). The title of the game is based on the numerals "5-1-0", which is the police code for street racing.

EA ceased support to the Windows version of the game very early in its life cycle. The latest patch for the Windows version (1.3) was released on December 6, 2005.[12]


Aggregate scores
GameRankings(X360) 83.05%[13]
(Xbox) 82.59%[14]
(PS2) 81.56%[15]
(PC) 81.50%[16]
(GC) 79.36%[17]
(GBA) 67.33%[18]
(NDS) 46.89%[19]
Metacritic(X360) 83/100[20]
(Xbox) 83/100[21]
(PS2) 82/100[22]
(PC) 82/100[23]
(GC) 80/100[24]
(NDS) 45/100[25]
Review scores
Game Informer8.5/10[27]
Game RevolutionB+[28]
GameSpy4/5 stars[30]

Need for Speed: Most Wanted was met with positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 83.05% and 83/100,[13][20] the Xbox version 82.59% and 83/100,[14][21] the PlayStation 2 version 81.56% and 82/100,[15][22] the PC version 81.50% and 82/100[16][23] and the GameCube version 79.36% and 80/100.[17][24] However, the Game Boy Advance version was met with mixed reviews with a score of 67.33%[18] and the Nintendo DS version was met with negative reviews with a score of 46.89% and 45/100.[19][25] GameSpot gave the game an 8.4 out of 10, praising the game for its "sharp graphics" and "outstanding sound effects", but noted the AI for being "too easy at first, but too hard later on".[29] Need for Speed: Most Wanted was a commercial success; it sold 16 million copies worldwide and 3.9 million in the United States, making it the best-selling title in the series.[32]

IGN gave it an 8.5 out of 10 "great" rating, praising almost every element of the game. Praise was given to the map design, described as "a crazily chromed out, sepia-tone landscape of industrial structures", car modeling, saying "The car models are especially sleek looking too", the car line up and the return of exotics. Particularly strong praise was given to the police system, saying "The cops are never that smart, but they continually grow in aggressiveness and numbers." and "they add that very necessary component of challenge, annoyance, and heat that makes this game so fun". Praise even went to the cut scenes and their casting, which usually falls victim to critics, saying "this mixture of animated, highly colored FMV characters and stylized backgrounds is both imaginative and refreshing".[31]

The PlayStation 2 version of Most Wanted received a "Double Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[33] indicating sales of at least 600,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[34]


On April 18, 2012, South Africa-based online retailer BTGames, the retailer that listed the existence of Jak and Daxter Collection, listed both Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 and Dead Space 3 for pre-order, hinting that a possible sequel is in the works.[35] The Most Wanted reboot was officially confirmed on June 1, 2012 on the official website and Facebook fan page. EA presented the game at their E3 live press conference on June 4, 2012, and the reboot was released on October 30, 2012.


  1. ^ "Microsoft Announces Xbox 360 Day One Launch Lineup — Strongest Launch in the History of Video Game Consoles". Microsoft. November 14, 2005. Retrieved November 14, 2005.
  2. ^ "EA closing 18 online multiplayer services". Eurogamer. July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  3. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. Level/area: FMV titled "6 days ago.".
  4. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. Level/area: FMV titled "Present day.".
  5. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. Level/area: FMV titled "Some time later...". Mia: Razor set you up. He messed with your car.
  6. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. Level/area: FMV titled "Some time later...". Mia: I heard they didn't have enough on you. Guess it's hard to nail you for street racing when you don't have a ride.
  7. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. Level/area: Final FMV played after defeating Razor in the game.
  8. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts. Level/area: Final pursuit, after 12 seconds. Cross: Hey Hotshot! Hey thanks for helping us out! We've been able to pick up every Blacklist racer thanks to you! Now I'll take that into consideration if you give yourself up. So what's it going to be?
  9. ^ Electronic Arts (2005-11-15). Need for Speed: Most Wanted. PlayStation 2. Electronic Arts.
  10. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Black Edition) release information". MobyGames. Retrieved September 22, 2006.
  11. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted release information (PlayStation 2 version)". GameSpot. Retrieved September 23, 2006.
  12. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted patch 1.3". The Software Patch. Retrieved September 22, 2006.
  13. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (X360)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  14. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  15. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PS2)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  16. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PC)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  17. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (GC)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  18. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (GBA)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  19. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (NDS)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  20. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (X360)". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  21. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox)". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  22. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PS2)". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  23. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (PC)". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  24. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (GC)". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  25. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Most Wanted (NDS)". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  26. ^ "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review". 1UP. Retrieved August 3, 2008.
  27. ^ Mason, Lisa. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review". Game Informer. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  28. ^ Ferris, Duke. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review". Game Revolution. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  29. ^ a b Gerstmann, Jeff. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 21, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  30. ^ Osborne, Scott. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review". GameSpy. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  31. ^ a b Perry, Douglas. "Need for Speed: Most Wanted review". IGN. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  32. ^ Totu, Florian (22 October 2009). "100 million Need for Speed Games Have Been Sold to This Day". Softpedia. SoftNews NET SRL. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  33. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Double Platinum". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009.
  34. ^ Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017.
  35. ^ Phillips, Tom (2012-04-18). "Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 outed by retailer". Eurogamer.

External links[edit]