Need for Speed Most Wanted's showing at Gamescom this week revealed an interesting intention: Criterion want you to be able to play Most Wanted at all times, no matter where you are.
This led to the announcement of CrossCompete, a new incentive that allows you to continue progress on Most Wanted across multiple platforms. You can therefore rack up speed points on the portable Vita version during the day, for example, before continuing progress in the evening on home console. For mobile users this is certainly a very intriguing selling point.
Until now, the Vita version has only been mentioned in passing without any concrete details. But now, Criterion's aims are abundantly clear: they want Need for Speed Most Wanted to be near-identical to its console cousins in every way possible.
As the above screenshot testifies, Most Wanted is looking as if it will showcase Sony's portable powerhouse's graphical capabilities in spades. Sacrifices were of course made to achieve such a feat – reflections don't appear to be quite as pertinent and, unsurprisingly, textures don't look as sharp close-up. But we're honestly nitpicking here. For a handheld game, it's looking absolutely phenomenal and we're aching to see it in motion.
Like the console versions, Most Wanted on Vita will reportedly play at a smooth 30 frames per second and will sport exactly the same cars, handling and features (Autolog included), all whilst rendering the expansive open world city of Farehaven. Other than the graphics, the only real difference is that the online multiplayer will be capped to 4 players.
A smattering of exclusive events will also make it into the Vita version, and we're intrigued to see how Criterion will utilise the Vita's unique assets; namely the touch screen and pad – they've already teased that you can skip through the soundtrack by swiping the rear touch pad.
Criterion are clearly determined to make Most Wanted's transition to the Vita resemble its console counterpart as faithfully as possible, meaning that this could be the first handheld driving game of genuine console quality. That alone makes it the Vita's most vital racing game. Until Gran Turismo eventually comes along, of course.
EA are even said to be "considering" CrossPlay, which would mean owners of the PS3 version would be able to obtain the Vita version at no extra cost. It's an ingenious proposition on Sony's part which is already been confirmed to include first party titles, so we can only hope that third parties like EA will support it too. Pretty please, EA?
Handheld ports are typically developed by third parties, so the fact that Criterion are developing Most Wanted in-house is certainly ambitious, and shows their faith in the platform.
This will be the case, however, for the remaining mobile versions of Most Wanted as the Tablet and smartphone versions are being handled by FireMonkey, who also brought Hot Pursuit to mobiles and are also currently working on the phenomenally pretty-looking Real Racing 3.
It's said to be an altogether experience that's "inspired by the concept of becoming the Most Wanted but tailored specifically to give you the most from your touch-screen hardware." Little else is known for now apart from a handful of confirmed cars: a BMW M3, Chevrolet Corvette, Lamborghini Aventador and a Ford Mustang.
Judging from what we've seen so far of Real Racing 3, you can bet that, like the Vita version, it will be visually stunning, but we do wonder how the handling will be adapted for touch screen control.
Need for Speed Most Wanted looks to be the most widely accessible entry in the series to date. Available on a multitude of new and existing platforms, Criterion are making a big push for CrossCompete in a bid to further innovate the genre and keep Most Wanted firmly lodged into our minds wherever we are.
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