Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a game about rewards and freedom, a racing experience where the cars are the only rivals on the road and the only companion in cutscenes, but that does not mean that humans are entirely absent from the Criterion-made title.
Autolog originated as a feature in the Need for Speed series and has since migrated to other Electronic Arts games, but the concept is still clearly at home in the racing game franchise.
And the Criterion Games team understands that there’s nothing more important for most of us than simply being better than our peers, be that in the real world by making more money or throwing better parties, or in the virtual space, by racing faster than them and jumping longer.
There are times when I actually am no longer interested in doing the races that I need to win in order to upgrade my car of choice, currently a Porsche, because there’s a billboard that has a familiar face printed on it and I need to remove it and replace it with my own.
Or if I want to mess with someone, I simply choose a race where he tops the chart and then do nothing but try and try until I knock him from the top position in order to create a long-term feud.
In one of my previous Need for Speed: Most Wanted diaries I have talked about how the core game focuses only on the cars and wisely leaves humans out of the universe altogether.
My appreciation of Criterion as a racing game developer is even stronger now that I see how it manages to make cars important while bringing real human beings to the forefront via Autolog and emphasizing the rivalries that develop naturally between them.