Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the most gleefully irresponsible of this year's racing games. It was developed by Criterion Games, the British studio best known for the Burnout franchise, and it shares that series' obsession with vehicular mayhem.
Most Wanted is set in an open-world environment called Fairhaven City, which is more of a playground for speed demons than a plausible place to live. While cruising the streets, you'll come across signs inviting you to participate in an assortment of events. In sprint and circuit races, the object is just to get to the finish line first, while in the ambush and pursuit events, you also have to escape the police.
Dozens of cars are available from the start, and race victories earn vehicle modifications, like road-gripping tires or a more aerodynamic chassis. You have to win the "most wanted" beauties say, the Lamborghini Aventador or the Porsche 918 Spyder, by beating them head-to-head.
Most Wanted also includes robust online competition that you can slide right into without having to navigate through a bunch of menus and lobbies. But even if you just want to zip around Fairhaven, flying off ramps and crashing through billboards, this entire package is a blast.
PLOT Get your motor running
DETAILS Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $60; PC, $50
BOTTOM LINE Hit the gas for a good time.