Released last year to critical acclaim (TDF Review) but sadly slightly lacking in sales across all platforms this newly tweaked Wii U version is the last attempt for Need for Speed: Most Wanted U to make some cold hard cash. Releasing on the Wii U system which whilst having a comparatively smaller user base to 360 and PS3 would on the face of it appear to be a wise move, mainly due to the fact that ALL Wii U owners are absolutely gagging for new games. A topic for another day perhaps but safe to say that the Wii U is seriously underperforming, partly due to Nintendo’s inability to market the product and for now at least completely lacking in new games. Need for Speed: Most Wanted U has an opportunity then, get in there while it’s quiet and everyone will want a copy right? Well, this approach is fraught with danger as others have had the same idea - we are seeing a bunch of fairly lazy ports (some with stripped back content) from the aforementioned platforms to the Wii U. Uninspired and pretty pointless purchases if you have access to a 360 or PS3.
To the credit of Criterion and EA, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U looks to change our perception of third party Wii U port cash-ins as the title contains not only the complete 360/PS3 experience but it’s been improved upon and all the bells and whistles associated with the excellent Wii U GamePad have been incorporated. Not only is this the best looking version of the game to date, a graphical feast the Wii U so badly required but it actually utilises the GamePad introducing co-driver modes and some reasonably fun father & son type gaming.
The game itself is a carbon copy of the original, albeit with the much improved graphical fidelity which few knew was actually possible on the Wii U until now. Putting your foot down in a Lambo as you try to escape the cops, out-muscle other racers with a backdrop of a gorgeous city and banging tunes blasting out has never been so much fun. Scouring the in-game city for new cars in an effort to climb the rankings and become the ‘Most Wanted’ driver has never been this much fun and has never looked so good. For its sins the port is warts and all, any flaws are brought across from previous versions - luckily there aren't that many. Events still require a mix of skill, patience and at times luck - from point to point circuits to speed runs and pursuits it all comes together wonderfully and as mentioned, looks phenomenal.
As far as the flaws are concerned, cars still have some quite odd jittering handling, braking in some of the more powerful cars is a tad odd at times and the cornering still makes you feel like you are driving a supercharged river barge at times but none of this really pulls you away from feeling that Most Wanted is a game worth sticking with.
Taking advantage of the Wii U’s frankly fantastic GamePad a whole host of new options are available to the player. The game can be played using the GamePad and the TV or the entire game can be played on the GamePad itself - amazingly the quality is so good you won’t actually mind too much if the wife keeps banging on about watching ‘The Voice’ for example on a Saturday night. Just hit a button and move the entire game down to the GamePad, all you need to ensure is that you plug in some headphones so you are not subjected to having to actually listen to ‘The Voice’ on the TV.
The use of the GamePad doesn't stop here though as a number of co-driver features have been added. Pitched as something akin to a father & son mode the features become god like, even in the hands of a child. As Dad grabs a normal pro controller simply for the driving, the little fella can grab the main GamePad and is presented with a number of one touch options on the screen, all with a view to assisting Dad. Change the game from day to night with one touch, turn traffic on or off with one touch and most importantly ‘disrupt the cops’ again with one touch. At first it’s quite cool passing such power to your four year old son; requesting that he take out the cops to help Daddy and watching with glee as he hits that button and police cars spin across the screen while you speed away in your newly found Porsche. Sadly, even for a four year old the tapping of a single button gets old very quickly indeed. For a generation that are growing up in houses with Leap Pads, Xboxes and or PS3s, iPads and so on there is little to keep them entertained for long here. The use of tech is cool, trying to add value to an existing game is admirable and trying to allow for some father and young son gaming is great but it doesn’t quite do enough really.
As a bonus, should you find yourself without your co-op partner, as he has wandered into another room to find his Spiderman trainers for example then these co-op options can be ported to the main controller. Finally, it is is very nice to see that a lot, if not all of the Autolog features have come across from the other consoles. Hooking up directly with your Wii U friends list autolog functions exactly the same as it did on other consoles, pitting you against your friends at every turn and highlighting those speed camera times whenever you whizz past one.
Easily the best third party title currently available on the Wii U and the best version of the game to grace any console. As a nice bonus you also get the DLC included which was seen on other consoles, entitled Speed Pack. A must buy to show off the Wii U’s graphical capabilities and for anyone who loves racing games. If you want the best Need for Speed experience, play it on the Wii U.