Need for Speed: Most Wanted is Criteron's second effort in the famed car racing franchise. Cameron McMillan caught up with producer Leanne Loombe about the game's big features and the pressure of working on the franchise.
First off, tell me about the main features?
"The biggest thing we're announcing for Most Wanted is the single player progression. Obviously it's an open world driving game and we think there is a demand for open world structure in the gameplay. We were thinking why can't you just drive any car that I want to drive, any time?
"Really racing convention says you can't. For the last 20 years racing games are very much set up in a way where you must complete X amount of events to unlock your favourite car. If you want to drive a Bugatti Veyron you've got to do 15-20 races then you unlock that car. We're throwing convention out the window and allowing almost all of the cars to be available in the world from the very start of the game.
"Essentially the cars will be dotted around the open world and if you can find it then you can drive it. We think that's really powerful as it gives you a unique gameplay experience. For example I could load up the game and the first car I drive is a Lamborghini Aventador. You could load up the game and the first car you drive is a BMW M3 coupe, so it just gives that unique gameplay experience and allows you to play the way you want to play.
"The whole point is that they are literally just in the open world for you to go and find. They're in places called 'jackspots' and we've placed them in locations around the world so that you can just go and find them. You'll be driving down the coastal road and you'll see a Lamborghini parked up on the side of the road. You can go into it and switch into that car, and once you're switched into it, it will then be available for you in 'easydrive', the in-game navigation system, you'll be able to then switch into that car anytime. You don't have to go back to the location where it was in the world."
It's the second Need For Speed for Criterion, what's the difference between the two?
"The first was Need For Speed: Top Pursuit in 2010. Hot Pursuit wasn't obviously an open-world driving game. It's got the racing and the chasing and it's got the cops in there too, which is a big Need For Speed feature. So if you're out in the open world and you're driving fast or dangerously then the cops will come after you and you'll need to get away from them get out of the pursuit and into cool-down.
"We've been in development for two years. When we had the choice of what Need for Speed game to do next we chose Most Wanted because we loved the premise behind it. It's all about playing the Most Wanted between your friends and that's really important for us."
And there's a feature involving Kinect?
"It has voice control which is mainly for 'easydrive' where you can control 'easydrive' with voice control commands."
How does the Most Wanted list work?
"The whole game is essentially based around the Most Wanted list. You earn speed points throughout the game, which is the in-game currency. You earn speed points for everything you do in the game. So for a single player and for multi player as well. The more speed points you get the higher you go up the Most Wanted list which is essentially driving the competition between your friends. The Most Wanted list is a list of your friends and the more speed points you get the higher up the list you go and then you compete to become the most wanted. "
Were there pressures working on a classic franchise?
"It's great to have the opportunity to work on the Need For Speed franchise. For us it's about shaking it up and bringing something unique and innovative to the franchise and that's part of the reason why we've made the cars available at the start because no racing game has ever done that before.
"Obviously all the games we've made for the Burnout series and Hot Pursuit, it's in our DNA. So every game we make is a reflection of where we are at that time. But we do bring in the best parts of every game that we've made in our current games that we are developing. But obviously we don't look back for inspiration we're more about looking forward."