Criterion Games Need for Speed

Criterion’s second stab at the Need for Speed franchise, Most Wanted, won’t be its last. Following the critical and commercial success of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, and the relative let-down of EA Black Box’s Need for Speed The Run, comes word that Criterion Games will be in charge of all future Need for Speed titles.

Need for Speed Most Wanted, which had been rumored months ago, made its official debut at E3 2012. The game looks to have as much in common with Criterion’s celebrated Burnout Paradise as it does with the 2005 effort that shares its name. Most Wanted 2012 jettisons (apparently) the cheesy (but beloved) full-motion video interludes that detail the player’s automotive battle against Clarence “Razor” Callahan in favor of open-world pursuits and the most extensive version of Autolog yet (check out our Need for Speed Most Wanted hands-on preview for more details).

Speaking with Game Informer at E3, Criterion Games Vice President Alex Ward delivered the good news.

“Our stamp’s going to be in everything you see in Need for Speed and Burnout going forward in the future. It’s not going to be spread anymore across different companies. Different studios have had a crack at it – it’s definitely a Criterion gig now.”

“Going forward now, with Most Wanted and what we’ll do in the future [will have], shall we say, a strong Criterion involvement. I’m personally involved in how the cars drive, how the game will play out, how connected they are, and what the features are.”

Need for Speed Most Wanted Criterion Games

For years now, the Need for Speed franchise has been split between multiple developers and, in fact, multiple series — Criterion and EA Black Box alternated the last few arcade-style games, while Slightly Mad Studios (currently responsible for the soon to be released Test Drive: Ferrari Legends and the upcoming Project Cars, which is the only racing game currently slated to appear on Wii U) developed the sim-focused Shift series. Will Electronic Arts continue to maintain multiple “brands” of Need for Speed on Criterion’s watch? Ward appears to favor a different approach.

“I think it would be amazing in the future if there was one big game that had all of these in it. That would be amazing.”

I agree – it may well be amazing, and Criterion might just be capable of pulling it off. After all, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit was a tremendous game (read our review), and Most Wanted is looking fantastic. That said, Need for Speed — along with Madden, NHL and FIFA — is among EA’s most popular annualized franchises, and Criterion can hardly be expected to churn out a new installment every twelve months and maintain high levels of quality. Will EA be satisfied with fewer, presumably better Need for Speed games, or will the drive for yearly releases necessitate that Criterion collaborate with, and oversee the work of, other developers? What do you think?

Ranters, are you thrilled that Criterion is now in charge of Need for Speed, or are you still pining for a new Burnout?

Need for Speed Most Wanted releases October 30th in North America, and November 1st in Europe, on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: Game Informer