Despite its ubiquity in the world of arcade-style racing games, Electronic Arts’s Need for Speed series is definitely a hit-or-miss affair — and, unfortunately, last year’s Need For Speed The Run falls squarely on the “miss” side of that equation. Still, as with so many of EA’s franchises, a new calendar year brings the promise of yet another Need For Speed, and this time around fans may just have something worth looking forward to.

The website for South Africa’s BT Games — yes, the same retailer taking pre-orders for God of War 4 and Dead Space 3 — allegedly featured a Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 product page, though at the time of this writing it has been removed. Still, a return trip to Rockport could be just what the series needs.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumblings about the next Need For Speed game. A January 2012 tweet from beleaguered UK retailer GAME referenced both a new Medal of Honor — which ultimately turned out to be Medal of Honor: Warfighter — and “Need for Speed 13.” Shortly thereafter, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit developer Criterion Games teased a big announcement that many hoped would prove to be a new game in the beloved Burnout series — though a new Most Wanted could be just as welcome.

It certainly appears to fit Criterion’s modus operandi for the Need for Speed series. With Hot Pursuit, the developer focused on updating one of the franchise’s classic installments. Most Wanted, which was actually an Xbox 360 launch title, is an easy pick as a standout entry in the series, making it ripe for a Criterion-developed sequel. Presumably, a new Most Wanted would return the developer to the kind of open-world design that made Burnout: Paradise so endlessly playable.

Before the Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 product page disappeared, CVG managed to snag a single screenshot of the alleged game. It may be small and grainy, but it does bare some resemblance to Criterion’s Hot Pursuit. Check it out below.

Need for Speed Most Wanted 2 Screenshot

The original Most Wanted is famous for more than just the open-world setting of Rockport. In fact, “infamous” would be a better choice of words, as I’m referring to the game’s notorious antagonist, “Razor” Callahan. Long before Christina Hendricks and Sean Faris graced Need for Speed The Run with their digital likenesses, actor Derek Hamilton’s (how should I put it?) impassioned portrayal of Callahan left an indelible impression on everyone who played Most Wanted — the game’s heavily treated live-action cutscenes are a cornball, b-movie treat that simply must be carried over into any sequels. It just wouldn’t be Most Wanted without them.

This is the part where we acknowledge that no official announcements have been made, and that the next Need for Speed could well turn out to be something else entirely. That said, with Black Box responsible for The Run (and potentially bracing for a round of layoffs), it’s Criterion’s turn at bat — whatever the next Need for Speed turns out to be, it’ll likely come from them. In lieu of a new Burnout, what could be better than a Criterion-produced update of Need for Speed: Most Wanted? What do you think?

Keep your eyes on Game Rant for more Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2 news as it develops.

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Source: CVG