- For the 2012 re-imagining, see - Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
Initial releases of Need for Speed: Most Wanted were available for PC, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and mobile phones. An Xbox 360 release was later launched to coincide with the console's release in 2005.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted was also released for PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS entitled Need for Speed: Most Wanted: 5-1-0.
The player arrives in Rockport as a newbie to the local street racing scene. Soon, the player becomes involved with the Blacklist, a list of the most notorious racers in Rockport, and proceeds to challenge Razor, the number 15 on the Blacklist. Due to their engine being sabotaged, the player loses the race, resulting in the loss of their BMW M3 GTR GT to Razor and becoming arrested by an approaching squad of the Rockport Police Department.
After being released by the police due to a lack of evidence, the player is helped by Mia, and is informed that Razor became the number one on the Blacklist, thanks to their newly acquired vehicle. From then, the player starts to climb up the Blacklist with the goal of defeating Razor once and for all.
After defeating Razor, Cross sends the entire RPD after the player, and informs them that they helped in the arrest of the Blacklist racers. Mia informs the player that Cross knows about their safehouses, and directs them to jump across a bridge north of Rosewood. The player makes the jump, evading the RPD.
In the final sequence, Cross logs in to the Rockport Police database and adds the player to the National Most Wanted list.
The Blacklist shows the fifteen most notorious racers in the city of Rockport. The player must defeat each successive member in order to advance in the career mode.
Blacklist members can be challenged after achieving a set number of race wins, beating pursuit records (Milestones) and surpassing their bounty.
For defeating a Blacklist member, players get the choice of picking two markers which include pursuit-related rewards, pink slips and customisation items.
The Rap Sheet summarises all recorded criminal activity by each Blacklist member. Players may access their pursuit statistics through the Rap Sheet.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is set in the fictional city of Rockport during daytime with some occurrences of rain that impacts a car's handling. The perimeter of Rockport consists of industrial, urban and rural areas, with some locations allowing players to drive in remote places.
In free roam mode, which is only accessible in career mode, the player may drive to a race event or shop location or become involved in a pursuit. Players may access the GPS system for navigation.
The Challenge Series includes 68 regular events and 2 additional special events in which the player is tasked with either beating a target time in a Tollbooth event or beating a milestone within a pursuit.
Quick Race mode allows players to participate in a randomly generated or custom race event. Additional tracks, modes and vehicles will unlock as the player progresses through the career mode.
- Circuit - Lap-based circuit races
- Sprint - Point-to-point races
- Drag - Short point-to-point races
- Lap Knockout - Circuit races that eliminate the last racer of each lap
- Speedtrap - Point-to-point races with checkpoints that record each accumulative speed
- Tollbooth - Point-to-point races with checkpoints that add additional time
The online services for the PC and Xbox 360 releases were shut down on August 11th, 2011.
Players may trigger pursuits in free roam mode and events with high police activity.
Pursuits become more difficult depending on the current heat level which involve in more active police vehicles and more aggressive police tactics.
The car roster of Need for Speed: Most Wanted was complemented with a higher number of European and American cars than in the Underground series. It also introduces a series of special bonus reward cars that cannot be modified, nor used in career mode.
All vehicles are upgradeable through leveled performance part packages. Players can also obtain unique Junkman parts from beating Blacklist racers that permanently raise a vehicle's performance characteristic.
Fine-tuning setups that allow players further performance adjustments can be created in free roam mode from the pause menu.
Visual customisation upgrades are categorised in Parts and Visual, the former offering bodywork-related modifications and the latter offering paint customisation and other options. Each applied customisation item reduces a vehicle's pursuit heat level. Players are also able to obtain unique customisation items from markers that cannot be unlocked otherwise.
In the My Cars menu, players can pick vehicles that were unlocked in career mode and modifiy them at no cost. All vehicle presets created in My Cars can only be selected in Quick Race and multiplayer modes.
A special collector's "Black Edition" of Need for Speed: Most Wanted was released in celebration of the Need for Speed series' tenth anniversary, featuring additional game content and developer insight.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted: 5-1-0 is a handheld exclusive release for the PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS platforms.
5-1-0 doesn't feature any form of free roam driving but follows a similar gameplay style as in Need for Speed: Most Wanted and allows players to play as the police in the Tuner Takedown game mode.
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted was depicted with several features in early promotional content and development showcases that were cut in the final release:
- The Police Civic Cruiser and Police Undercover Civic Cruiser beared a stronger resemblance to the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
- The BMW M3 GTR GT featured in early promotional material had a red body paint colour and yellow tinted headlights that resembled the 2001 GT class race car it is based on.
- A billboard advertising the fictional KNFS 101.9 radio station was cut.
- Some world details of conceptual areas such as the airstrip at the Downtown Rockport Airport were not implemented.
- The prison in Camden previously had a brick wall and a securely placed fence that would prevent the player from driving through it.
- A busted cutscene involving the player being placed into a choke hold was trimmed down in the final release to only show them being pinned to the rear of a police car.
- Rog was featured in early trailers as the 16th member of the Blacklist and also drove a Ford Mustang GT instead of a Pontiac GTO. His car is also featured in the demo release.
- Several game files indicate that the title was originally intended to include more playable and unplayable vehicles:
- The demo release of Need for Speed: Most Wanted includes several features that are not present in the final release:
- The demo uses a different menu select confirmation sound.
- The police lights shown in the loading screen have a different appearance and flash at a higher rate.
- A set of tollbooths at the entrance of Thrilltown in Point Camden only appear in the title's demo.
- Tollbooths are featured with barriers that span both lanes of a road and raise at the beginning of a Tollbooth event.
- The PlayStation 2 demo stated in a promotional screen that the title would feature online play for that platform, which is not included in the final release.
- Some police cars can be driven in certain Challenge Series events, although they are solely used in Tollbooth races.
- Sergeant Cross' Corvette differs in cutscenes and gameplay. The car featured in cutscenes is a Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, while the one used in pursuits shares the same body model with the Police Federal and Undercover Federal cruisers.
- Rog says "Look what the Underground let loose. Let's see how well you do in daylight" when the player first encounters him. Rog also says at a later point of the game - "People as far as Bayview are throwing cash down on this." Both are references to the settings of the Underground series.
- Players with saved game data from Need for Speed: Underground 2 are given an additional $10,000 at the start of the career as well as a message thanking them for playing Need for Speed: Underground 2.
- The event "Blacklisted" from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010) appears to refer to the Blacklist in Most Wanted. The event sees the use of Chevrolet Corvette Z06 police vehicles in reference to Sergeant Cross' car. The name may also refer to the Mercedes-Benz Black Series that the player has to use.
- Need for Speed: The Run could be pre-ordered with the Most Wanted Challenge Series, which included events and cars inspired by the original game.
- The Deluxe Edition release of Need for Speed (2015) features a modified BMW M3 (E46) that closely resembles the M3 GTR GT from Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
- The Need for Speed Heroes Pack DLC for the 2012 reimagining title features a recreation of the M3 GTR GT.
- The BMW M3 GTR GT featured in the game and its cover art was recreated in real-life by the Speed Channel television program Tuner Transformation. The team used a BMW 330Ci (E46) as a base and modified it with performance upgrades and customised vinyls and body parts to the likeness of the original.
- It is possible for the player to get a Game Over screen by having all their cars impounded. At that point, the player must either load from a previously saved file or start over from the beginning.
Trailers and Interviews
- Web link: Most Wanted Online Service
- Screenshot: Civic Cruiser in the PlayStation 2 demo
- Screenshot: Undercover Cruiser in the PlayStation 2 demo
- Screenshot: Promotional screenshot of the BMW M3 GTR
- Screenshot: Rog's Mustang in the PlayStation 2 demo
- Game Files: Unused game directory folders (350Z, BMWM3, TRAILERCON)