Developer: Criterion Games
Brian has written an excellent review for Need For Speed Most Wanted on PS3 and Xbox 360 that covers all aspects of the original game. It's certainly worth a read before digging into this one. I'll be focusing more on the features in the Wii U versions as well as some of my feelings about the game in general.
I have to be honest. At this point in the Wii U life cycle, I'm looking for any reason to boot up the system. Absolutely loving (and getting a perfect Gamer Score) the first Most Wanted on the Xbox 360 had me quite excited to take the new version for a spin on the Wii U. The first thing I did was boot up the game and walk around the corner into the other room to start immediately playing off screen on the GamePad. Thanks to a brutally short range and practically no ability to transmit through a wall that plan got shot down. I'd get back to that later.
After the game seamlessly started right into a high speed drive towards my first new car, I started checking out some of the features of the GamePad. Most everything on the pad can be done in game through menus, but I definitely liked the easy accessibility of having it right there on the touch screen. The map was very clear although not entirely useful when driving around town at high speeds. Handy for a co-pilot though. And really, that's what the GamePad is all about for this game, having a second player use the features on that screen while driving with a second controller.
Thanks to my little one, I had a very eager co-pilot. She was quite happy to explore the possibilities of what she could do with the touch screen while I drove around like a maniac. Of course her favorite was changing my car and painting it. Mind you, all this takes place in real time. So one minute I'm in my red M3 and by the time I'm exiting a corner I'm in a blue GT-R. For the gamer in me, it seems rather silly, but for us it was real fun. All the mods you've unlocked can be switched out in real time as well. While the police are in pursuit, she could also poke at them to distract them or spin them out to give me a better chance to escape.
I think the absolute coolest thing about playing together, though, was being able to assist her when it was her turn to drive. Now, she's only six years old, and while pretty adept at video games, driving is tough. What NFS:MW U lets you do is allow one person drive the car, and the second controller can be used to override the driving controls. This kept her driving experience from being a frustrating one. She got to both, get the feeling that she was driving by herself, and yet I was able to jump in at crucial points to give a little assist and make her feel like she was doing awesome.
I almost hate to say it, but other than the specific Wii U features and enjoyment that playing with my daughter brought, I don't much care for the game. I think the game has been too dumbed down. To me, this game IS Burnout Paradise, another much loved game that I just didn't enjoy. You can jump to any race at any time, killing the city exploration portion in favor for quick access. All races and cars feel pretty much the same, super floaty and unresponsive. Race route navigation is poor, but I'm actually ok with that since racing is all about repetition and finding the right lines. Police chases were frustrating and nothing like the fond memories I had for the first Most Wanted.
So while there was very little about the base game to hold my attention for long, I can't help but give it a high score just for the excellent use of Wii U specific hardware. My daughter and I had a blast with it together, or at least I got a kick out of how much she enjoyed it. The off-screen play looked amazing, but I found the other touch screen controls a better use for the GamePad. I love that it supports it. I just wish it had better range. Overall, it's not worth a double dip if you own the game on another system, but if you have a younger child and/or are really interested in jumping in, I do highly recommend the Wii U version.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted for WiiU