I picked this up for free. I'm not a huge fan of racing games, but I enjoyed Need For Speed: Most Wanted on the GameCube and PC a lot. I had heard that this game gets more of that classic gameplay right, so I decided to check it out.

First off, the game is visually astonishing. Many things I thought were pre-rendered turned out to be live rendered. That's very impressive, especially from an Xbox.

The driving mechanics are also solid, as they should be. It is nice - and important - to be able to tune your cars, in much more detail than we could in the previous entries I played.

That's where the honeymoon ends though.

In the end though, this is just another racing game. Typical of Need For Speed games, we have live-action actors placed into CGI environments. But the characters are still one-dimensional and boring. And there are a ton of cutscenes that serve no purpose. Why the hell did I just drive to this diner to spend a few minutes with these placeholder people I don't care about? Most of them don't advance the plot... if there is one. I'm not convinced there is, but I might have missed it over the INCESSANT polishing of every character's egos. I didn't find any conflict. There wasn't even the insipid "I stole your girl because I'm faster, beat me to get her back" storyline. Every character is so busy congratulating each other over their last run, that nobody explains why I should care.

While the graphics are very impressive, they're also very boring. The color palette consists entirely of grays, dark blues, browns, etc. The game world is very low contrast, which makes route identification a chore. Sure, there is a blue path on the ground sometimes, but even that manages to get lost at times. The world is also very empty. Massive, but empty. For such an obviously developed city, it feels like a wasteland. And why the hell is it always night and raining? I'm not exaggerating on this, literally everything is always wet. If you manage to drive long enough, you'll see some dawn I guess, but that's rare and I'm not sure it progresses further than that.

Here's where I'm really disappointed though. NFS: Most Wanted was a ton of fun because of the police chases. This game claims to have them, but I haven't seen it happen. For me, getting away from the cops has been as simple as "foot + gas = gone." I literally just drive away, and the chase is over in literal seconds. I spend more time in the cooldown phase. Or I could not run and pay the pittance of a fine. The police in this game have not impressed me at all.

I think I've put in about 16 hours into the game. If I wanted a simple driving simulator, I could have picked up Forza or something. I decided to trade it back to GameStop for the $27. That's the sad state of the game: I'd rather have a measly $27 from game released only a few days prior, instead of the game itself.