It’s been a hot minute since I have commandeered Jalopnik’s weekly Tuesday streams, live at 4 p.m. Eastern over at twitch.tv/jalopnikdotcom. I had COVID and trust me, you didn’t want me on camera or mic. I’m back though, and I’ve brought the goods with me — Need for Speed: Most Wanted — the one from 2005, played on an Xbox 360. This is going to be fun.
I’ll be honest, my initial hope for this stream was to finally get around to revisiting NFS ProStreet, a game I’ve talked up to my streaming partner-in-crime Steve DaSilva, for its excellent portrayal of grassroots motorsports. Steve’s a massive fan of Formula Drift, you see, and Jarod DeAnda — the voice of FD — actually plays the announcer in ProStreet. John Hindhaugh, whom I consider to be the voice of Le Mans, is present in the game as well. ProStreet isn’t perfect, but its sense of racing community and culture is unrivaled in the genre to this day.
Alas, the copy I sourced on eBay a week ago is busted. That’s tremendously disappointing, and I’ll be asking for money back. In its stead, we’ll be enjoying a different sort of Need for Speed experience — one that many fans consider to be the series’ zenith, to this day. I’m talking, of course, about the original Most Wanted.
Now my favorite NFS has always been the PS2 version of Hot Pursuit 2, which we’ve played on stream before. But the original Most Wanted (not to be confused with Criterion’s 2012 “reboot”) claims a not-too-distant second in my ranking, thanks to its picturesque and diverse map, memorable and addictive police chases and compelling campaign. This is open-world NFS at its best, I reckon, especially because it didn’t play favorites with car culture in the way the previous Underground games did. Whether you liked Japanese compacts, German exotics or American muscle, there was something for you in the roster here.
Lots of people love this game, and I do too. Join us on Twitch at 4 p.m. ET, then, to revisit those halcyon days on the permanently sunset shores of Rockport, and embark on our quest to return a stolen M3 GTR to its rightful owner.