Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Games
Release Date: November 16, 2005
The PSP is an awesome system that I admire and love, but like all systems in their infancy, it lacks some good titles to showcase its true power. Slowly but surely, the system has been seeing better game releases; is NFS: Most Wanted 5-1-0 one of them?
My expectations were high, since the PSP version of NFS: MW was rumored to be better than the PS2 version. It certainly delivered in the graphics area, and the PS2 iteration lacked an online component, which the PSP version supports via its wi-fi capability.
EA Games decided to go back to the series' roots with this PSP offering, which means that the free-roam mode was the first casualty. As a result, the bounty mode isn't available on the PSP, but it's replaced by an outrun mode, in which you have to evade the cops for a certain amount of time. (If you've played Tokyo Extreme Racer, this is a prime example of how this mode works.) The prizes also aren't as good as on the consoles. In the PS2 version, you gained a large amount of respect and the opponent's pink slip, while on the PSP, you get a measly sum of rep points and no pink slips. After you're done with a course/level, you have the option to do the same course again in outrun mode. This is a tad on the repetitive side, but you do have the option to skip this mode.
Your goal in NFS:MW is to move up in the Black List rankings, although there isn't really a straightforward reason for you to do so. Before you can race against its members, you need to meet their minimum requirements, usually a certain amount of rep points. In order to get these points, you must win races. Since the free roam is gone, the events are identical from one rival to the next. Once the event is done, you return to the main screen, and then you can jump into another event. It's best to play this in intervals; the title lacks the additional features which would prevent it from getting repetitive.
The PSP version may have omitted the storyline and free-roam and bounty modes, but it does have crisper graphics, the ability to play as the cops, online capability, and it's portable. The cops are also more ferocious and bump your car more often than on the console versions. At any given time on the PSP, there may be a maximum of two cops on you, whereas on the PS2, I've seen well over a dozen. Being chased by only two cops might sound like a walk in the park, but the tactics and AI are completely different. These cops can own you in matter of seconds, due to the capture system implemented in the PSP. To get busted, the cops need to be within a certain radius of your immobile car for three seconds, which is an easy bust. The road blocks also make the chases more difficult, with brick barriers sitting smack dab in the middle of the road, instead of having spikes dropped in your path.
These cop chases are also harder since the PSP has two fewer buttons than the PS2. The developers had to map some functionality to the directional pad, so if you're used to the analog stick, it's quite difficult to hit the Speed Breaker (down) or toggle the camera (up). If you race with the directional pad instead of the analog nub, you'll need to stop steering for a split second in order to activate the Speed Breaker.
Speaking of cops, a gameplay mode called Tuner Takedown allows you to do a little role reversal and play as the cops. In a nutshell, you try to bust as many speeding cars as possible.
The PSP version of NFS:MW has some plusses and minuses when compared to the consoles, but it matches them in one area – both feature an incredible EA Trax list. The car audio still needs some work, since all vehicles sound like the exact same car.
The graphics are far superior to those on the PS2 version; it's amazing how beautiful the surroundings and cars can look on a seven-inch screen. The background and vehicles all possess an additional sheen, but sadly, there are no cut scenes in this iteration. This is a real shame, since they would have showcased how beautiful UMD videos can be on a handheld device.
Online play on the PSP still needs a lot of work because the available modes are still a bit remedial; don't expect a fine-tuned online system found in NFSU or Burnout. There are two methods of connecting to multiplayer games: infrastructure or ad-hoc. While ad-hoc play supports up to four players in the same room, while infrastructure supports two players and requires you to connect to the EA servers. The only available mode is the basic circuit race, although you can choose to race clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Overall, Need for Speed: Most Wanted 510 version exceeds the PS2 in some avenues but not in others. The races are graphically astounding and the online play is a great addition, but given the lack of gameplay modes, repetition is bound to set in. The better choice would be the Xbox and Xbox 360 editions, which have all of the console features in addition to online play, although you'd lack the convenience of a transportable game. Fans of the NFS series who are looking for a portable title would do well to pick this up.
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