Most Wanted plays out in a fairly large open world map. You can explore the city, industrial areas and highways that wind through mountains. As well as the main road system there are numerous off road areas such as building sites and an old airfield hidden up in the hills for you to explore. Hidden areas and short cuts are usually marked by breakable security barriers, getting to know them can increase your chances of a win during races. There are 150 odd breakable billboards scattered around the map, you usually need to jump through these to break them and once broken your jump distance is recorded and if you jumped further than any of your online friends your avatar will appear on the billboard.
There are numerous cars to add to your collection, all you have to do is find them. There are jack spots hidden around the map, once found you can change car by setting your navigation to direct you to the car of your choice or you can simple jump straight to the new car.
If any of the above reminds you of Burnout Paradise then you should know how this games works. Race events can be circuit races, point to point, speed runs (where you have to clock up a set average speed) or the dreaded ambush where you have to out run and lose the police.
The way the police chase you in this game can be very frustrating if you have one of the slower cars. They will chase you down, ram you and should they lose sight of you they will start to search so you either need to find a good place to hide, repaint your car or swap cars to fool them. Problem is, they are very good at finding you. They wont stick to the roads. At first you might find this annoying but stick with it and youll learn the tricks and good hiding spots.
Each car has 5 races assigned to it, complete each one to gain upgrades to your car. Boost, tyre types, aero packs and long or short gearing for better top speed or acceleration. Its basic stuff but do you really want Gran Turismo style options in an arcade racer? Each upgrade has pro version that increases it performance, pro track tyres are extra grippy etc.
The idea of the offline mode is to gain speed points, once you have enough you can challenge one of the 10 most wanted drivers to a race, beat them in the race and you then get the chance to take their car by taking them down. Get all 10 and you are done, almost. You can still go on to find all the cars and smash everything that can be smashed. You can also take on your friends in offline races as their best times are recorded and appear at the start of each race.
Online play has you racing and completing challenges, very much like Burnout Paradise.
Graphics are excellent, lens flare and water spray can limit your view at times. The soundtrack is suitably energetic and eggs you on faster and faster.
I have spotted a few glitches here and there. On a couple of occasions the system has failed to stream the world data from the disc fast enough and I have run out of road, instead I saw a grey nothingness but after a brief pause the world appears and the game carries on. I also found a building that seems to be incomplete, through which the underside of the map can be seen.
Its a great game with just a few minus points. Not quite Burnout Paradise 2 but not far off.