Nothing says friendship like a "who can outrun the most cops" competition.
"Friends are more important than strangers." Those are the words that began this year's hands-on demonstration of Criterion's upcoming Need For Speed: Most Wanted, and nearly everything we saw for the rest of the experience fell back to them.
Jump in a car, and start driving. Explore, race, speed, or piss off the cops; do whatever you want in the city sandbox, and the gameplay elements come to you. You can meet up with some friends by the pier to begin a makeshift street race, or simply speed through the major intersections, letting traffic light snapshots catch your maximum speed and instantly spit out a comparison to your friends. The whole of the game seems to work like this, non-invasive, no-pressure elements that never beg you to explore them, yet remain ready to provide you an experience if you choose to.
Even the logistics get out of your way, doing little to distract you from the enjoyment of driving around the block like a maniac. Car colors change from a simple, no-stop drive through, while car swaps take place as "jack points," secluded city spots with parked cars ready to become your new primary mode of transportation.
For people with a lot of buddies ready to race, Need For Speed: Most Wanted seems a well-oiled, solid product primed for some fast-paced competitive driving. It's unclear how much directed content for console lonelies will be present at launch, but the game's core cop chases, tight mechanics, and pretty collisions should be enough for a more than a few solid hours of fun.