The Need for Speed franchise has released it's latest game, and this time, they've made the jump to the Playstation Vita. Can the handheld version hold it's own against the home console versions, or should you do all your driving from the living room?
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the latest game in the NFS franchise, and is developed by Criterion, who previously worked on the Burnout series and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit back in 2010. The new game, though sharing it's name with a previous NFS title, departs in many ways from it's predecessor, discarding the underground street racing scene and storyline for something closer to the Burnout franchise.
VITA VS HOME CONSOLE
One reason I chose to review the Vita version of this game is because the developers have made some bold promises: Most handheld versions of games turn out to be cheap, bare-bones versions of the "real" game, but Criterion has promised that Most Wanted for the Vita will be the same game as for the consoles. The Vita's powerful hardware certainly allowed for the possibility of a full Need for Speed game, but even more promising is that Criterion has developed this version themselves, without outsourcing as so many other developers do.
Indeed, the Vita version is the full game. The gameplay, the HUD, the size of the city… all are like the home console version. There are some differences, but they have less to do with the content of the game and more to do with compensating for Vita´s hardware capabilities. There's less anti-aliasing for example, textures have a somewhat lower resolution and car headlights also look oddly pixilated. The overall impression though, largely thanks to the smaller screen, means you won't notice this very much. The game is quite gorgeous anyway, and the game plays smooth as silk with a decent framerate too.
Most Wanted on PS Vita…
A difference which kind of affects gameplay, and kind of doesn't, is that the number of cars on the road has been reduced. This includes both race opponents and general traffic: The opponents have been modified, according to Criterion, to ensure that the challenge remains equatable. The reduced traffic not only puts less strain on the hardware, but helps gameplay too. Most wanted is a fast-paced game, and on a small screen like the Vita's, it would most likely work against the enjoyment of the game if there were more cars to avoid.
Something I originally thought was a cut-back was the crash animations, which hardly seem to deform the cars, but I've since learned that this is no different on home consoles or pc. This is rather odd, considering the destruction visible in previous Criterion games.