The announcement that Criterion Games would be donning the driving gloves for EA‘s Need for Speed: Most Wanted was unsurprising but reassuring. The team are experienced, and have some of the finest driving games already lining their trophy cabinet. Now it has been revealed that their relationship with the series has become far more involved than developing the occasional game, they are now the driving force behind the entire franchise.
Speaking with Game Informer at E3, the studio’s vice president Alex Ward stated that:
“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.”
Whether or not this means that they are now the sole developers of the series or merely intimately involved in each and every project remains unclear. But a franchise like this could perhaps benefit from a consistent backseat driver, particularly when it comes from a team as accomplished as Criterion.
In terms of the future of the franchise – which is comprised of Hot Pursuit, Most Wanted, Shift and Underground – Ward thinks that it would be ““amazing in the future if there was one big game that had all of these in it.” He also mentioned, in terms of Burnout, that the team “[thinks] about it all the time” but that “something big will have to happen soon to enable us to do some of the things we want to do.”
Releasing in the US on October 30 and in Europe on November 2 for the PC, PS3, Vita and Xbox 360, Need for Speed: Most Wanted should be a clear indication of whether or not the series new pit crew are up to the task.