Need For Speed: Most Wanted — Plot Analysis & FAQ

Fans of racing games may have been a bit surprised to learn that one entry to the Need for Speed series, NFS: Most Wanted, features a career mode with a rather extensive back story. Plotlines to racing games are nothing new (who will ever forget the original Test Drive’s riveting story of “You just got a big bonus at work, now go try out these hot cars you want to buy”?), but few of them are as in-depth as the epic tale woven in Most Wanted. Because of this, many racing fans might be too inexperienced to fully understand the complicated ins-and-outs going on throughout the game so I took it upon myself to write this handy little guide to help you navigate through the literary masterpiece that is NFS: Most Wanted. I’ll break down the story as it’s given to you, as well as answer common questions as they come up.

The game begins in the present day, with you about to challenge Razor, the #15 racer on the mysterious “blacklist”. A woman (later revealed to be Mia) collects the pink slip from each driver. The pink slip dictates ownership of the car, so by putting their slip on the line, each racer is essentially betting their car on the outcome of the race. As she takes your slip, Mia gives you some advice on how to beat Razor.

Frequently Asked Question: Mia warns you that Razor will “swap paint” if he has too. What does that mean?

Answer: Allow me to explain this to those of you who aren’t familiar with racing terminology. “Swap paint”, means that if you win and Razor has to give you his car, he will first paint it all ugly colors, and write “I am a loser” across the hood, thus ruining your prize. Psychological games such as this are what makes Razor such a dangerous opponent. Well, that and the fact that he cheats.

Razor is driving a pretty fierce looking Mustang, but your BMW has a much, much bigger spoiler than his car, and that is of course the most important factor in a race. The race begins, but about halfway through, Mia calls. Mia is pretty hot, so you don’t think twice about picking up the phone and talking to her even though you’re in the middle of a death-defying race on crowded public streets with a car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. She warns you that there is something wrong with your car, and then the game fades out.

FAQ: What does Razor mean when he says “First I’m gonna take your ride, then I’m gonna take your girl?”

A: The first half of Razor’s statement is fairly obvious, since the drivers are racing for pink slips, but the second half is a bit more puzzling. It is possible that in addition to their cars, Razor and the player might have wagered their girlfriends, as well. It’s also possible that this car race is only one half of a biathlon, and the second half is some kind of piggyback or three legged race where each driver partners up with his girlfriend. Since the women would essentially be the “vehicle” in such a race, they would surely be at stake in the second event, in order to maintain some level of consistency.

There is a flashback, and we’re taken back to six days ago, when you first entered the city of Rockport. Illegal street racing is like any other career, and you’ve come to the big city to start climbing the corporate ladder, make the big bucks, and make a name for yourself. Only instead of a “corporate ladder”, it’s more like a small-time crime syndicate. The people of Rockport LOVE illegal street racing — the only businesses in town appear to be car dealerships, tune-up shops, and Burger King — and you even get into a race as you are driving across the bridge into town. This is how we are formally introduced to Mia, who races you for a little bit before both of you stop at a red light.

FAQ: Wait, illegal street racers stop for red lights?

A: No, only Mia. Which should also answer the question “Why isn’t Mia on the Blacklist?”

While you are sitting at the red light, a police Corvette comes out of nowhere and stops in front of both of you. Mia takes off right away, but you don’t know any better. Unfortunately, the game’s main villain, Sgt. Cross, is driving this police car and he hates people who stop for red lights… HATES them. This is probably because people who are stopped at red lights interfere with all the illegal street races that seem to be the basis of Rockport’s economy. He gets out of his car, yells at you for a while, but then has to leave for another call, and lets you go. He keys your car as he’s leaving, which would have been really awful if not for the fact that you’ll end up scraping 90% of the paint off of the car by hitting the walls during every race anyway.

You spend the next few days racing and building up your reputation, and eventually run into Ronnie McCrea, one of Razor’s boys. You race, and after you beat him, he leads you to a covert gathering of the blacklist members, which is like 10 feet away. Apparently when they aren’t racing against each other for ownership of each other’s cars, blacklisters enjoy hanging out together and talking about bands they like or something. Razor yells at Ronnie for leading you to their secret hideout, which seems kind of silly since their hideout is a public boardwalk out in the open. There are probably old men who accidentally stumble in on Blacklist meetings when they go to feed the pigeons.

FAQ: Seriously, what’s up with that spoiler? It’s about twice as big as the entire car.

A: A spoiler is the most important part of any street racer’s ride, as it provides an instantaneous and economical performance boost. As proven by numerous trips through the parking lot of a local mall, any car, be it a Saturn, a 15-year old Buick, or a minivan, can be instantly turned into a high-performance racer simply by haphazardly bolting a few pieces of sheet metal onto the trunk. The bigger the better, so to make sure that his highly tuned, extensively modified BMW doesn’t get embarrassed by an otherwise inferior car (such as a Ford Fiesta) equipped with a top-quality spoiler, the player has installed a comically oversized rear wing.

After a brief scene on the boardwalk and another race, the game flashes to two days before the scene at the beginning of the game. As you are driving, you get a phone call from Rog, who sets up most of Rockport’s races. Apparently, there is some kind of illegal street-racer yellow pages, because as soon as you get off of the phone with Rog, Razor calls you. It may seem weird that so many people want to talk to you, but keep in mind that you do have a ridiculously oversized spoiler on your car. In addition to single-handedly doubling the performance of your car, it’s also a great conversation piece. After a brief conversation with Razor, we are brought back to the present day.

FAQ: What does Rog mean when he says “Look what the Underground brought out. Now let’s see how you do in the daylight”?

A: It is probably a reference to the previous Need for Speed games, Underground 1 & 2, and is meant to imply that you are a character from one of those games. Alternately, it’s possible that your character is supposed to be some kind of goblin or dark elf, who would normally live underground. If this is the case, then you truly are at a disadvantage here, because direct sunlight will make your weapons and armor disintegrate, and all your rolls will receive a -1 penalty.

The opening scene between you and Razor is replayed. Again you race, and during the race Mia calls to let you know that you left a HUGE oil slick at the starting line. Car engines don’t do real well running at over 100 mph with no oil, and shortly after getting the message, the engine explodes and the car is wrecked. Needless to say, you lose the race.

Razor seems pretty happy to win your car, and doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the fact that, according to the game’s own economic model, that engine is going to cost almost $100,000 to replace. Mia runs up and asks what happened, since she is apparently too dense to figure out that the problem she called you about might have led to the demise of the car. Razor vows to “drive it the way you never could,” which we can only assume means “without an engine”.

The cops arrive and the blacklist racers take off. This bodes badly for you, because if there’s one thing Sgt. Cross hates more than people stopped at red lights, its pedestrians. You get arrested for standing near a street-race or something, but are released from jail before too long. Your good friend Mia (who conveniently abandoned you after the last race) picks you up and informs you that Razor sabotaged your car before the last race. Well, dur. You also learn that while you were in jail, Razor used your BMW to move up to the top of the blacklist. Mia drops you off at a car dealership, and that’s where the game really begins.

FAQ: How does Razor move up to the top of the Blacklist using your car, if you wrecked the engine in the last race?

A: Razor couldn’t have earned the money to replace the engine BEFORE moving up on the blacklist, so he clearly had to have figured out to win races using the car without getting it repaired. My guess is that the other drivers just got a load of that spoiler and gave up without even racing. This probably explains why they still have their cars. Either that, or else the blacklist switched to soapbox derby while you were gone.

Throughout the majority of the game, there isn’t much story progression. Rog calls you to set up races with other blacklist members, Razor calls to threaten you, and Mia calls to basically just be your personal cheerleader. About halfway through the game, Sgt. Cross leaves you an insane, rambling message in which he informs you that he has ways of getting your phone number, and that he’s from the “old school”. He also asks if people still call each other “homey” anymore, and then rags on your car for being ugly and says that he will bring you down. It’s vaguely threatening, but not really in the way Cross intends… Instead of sounding mean, the whole thing just makes him seem like a creepy stalker.

Once you defeat all the other Blacklist drivers, you can challenge Razor to the final race. After you beat him, he warns you that nobody will last long at #1 with him breathing down their neck, and if you want the keys to your old car, you’re going to have to take them from him. By this point in my play-through of the game, I already had two Lamborghini’s, a Viper, and a Corvette, so I was content to let him keep the BMW. Mia, however, steps in, takes the keys, and reveals herself to be an undercover cop. She arrests Razor, and the rest of the Rockport P.D. swoops in to get the other Blacklist racers, who have apparently forgotten how to run away. Mia throws you the keys to the BMW and tells you to run for it.

FAQ: Wait a second… Isn’t this the story from The Fast and the Furious?

A: Yes, but that just makes it better. I mean, haven’t we all at one point or another thought that The Fast and the Furious could be turned into the coolest game ever if you got to be Vin Diesel’s character and Paul Walker was replaced by a really attractive woman? I know I have.

As you are running from the police, Mia calls and warns you that Sgt. Cross has gotten wise to your usual escape techniques. This time, the only chance you have to get away will be to go to the broken bridge and jump it (I guess Rockport is located somewhere in Hazzard County). You drive to the bridge, and with the aid of your amazing spoiler, are able to glide over the sizeable gap in the bridge to safety. The police cars, equipped only with merely ordinary sized spoilers, fall off the edge and are unable to continue pursuit. The game ends with you safely driving away while the remaining police can only look on and shake their fists angrily.

FAQ: Why does Mia beg you not to hang up on her when she calls you?

A: Mia feels pretty bad about not telling you she was an undercover cop and then using you to get to the rest of the blacklist members. She figures that you must be pretty mad at her for all the things that happened to you as a result of her undercover work — you know, things like her helping to get your car back, you winning all that money, and her not arresting you and then helping you flee from the other police.

Well, that pretty much concludes the epic saga of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I hope you enjoyed this guide, and I also hope that it has helped you better appreciate the game. But mostly, I just hope the guy who played Sgt. Cross takes some acting lessons before he appears in any other games. Seriously.

Expanding My Horizons With FIFA 07

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, but it has never really caught on here in the U.S. This occasionally earns us some derision around the world, as other nations assume that we are either too self-centered to follow a sport that’s not exclusively “ours”, or too ignorant to appreciate it. I think that’s really unfair, if only for the simple fact that Canada also doesn’t give a damn about soccer, but nobody ever makes them feel guilty about it.

Still, in the interest of building some international good will, I decided to buy a soccer game and tell all of you proud U.S. Americans about it, in the hopes that you would read about it and maybe become more interested in the “Beautiful Game”. In order to recreate the sport accurately, I decided to play the most realistic simulation of the sport, which I decided was FIFA 07, based almost entirely on the fact that it only cost $7.

Before we get started, I should disclose the fact that while I don’t watch any pro soccer, I’m not completely ignorant about how the sport is played. I played youth soccer until I was 17. Of course, the league I played in may have had a slightly different interpretation of the rules. The last two years I played, our opponents’ main tactic for scoring was to kick the ball to our goalie, then run into her (it was a co-ed league) to knock the ball loose and into the net. My job was to beat the hell out of anyone who tried to do that. You could determine how well I was playing by counting the number of broken noses the guys on the other team had and subtracting from that the number of times I ended up standing over our goalie saying “Kellie? Are you dead?”

I’ve been told that in most real soccer leagues, they have rules that discourage this kind of behavior.

One last thing I should mention before we go any further: All of the entries will note the time on the game clock when whatever I described happened. Also, like many international sports, the leagues in FIFA use a time clock that counts upward instead of the typical American style of counting down to zero. Now, I’m not some arrogant American who can’t appreciate the styles and preferences of other countries (I mean, I am playing a soccer game after all), but for the life of me I can’t figure how the rest of the world finds it more useful to know how much time has passed in the game rather than how much time is left. As much as I hate to say it, I’m inclined to think that we may have actually gotten that one right. Then again, the rest of the world calls this sport football, and we were the idiots that decided “No, football isn’t a very descriptive name for a sport that is based around kicking a ball around. We’ll call it soccer instead and save the name football for a sport that places much less emphasis on the feet.” So I guess that makes us about even in the stupid department.

3

Scoring in soccer is easy. You just have to get past those 3 guys AND a goalie. You could pass it to that teammate in the corner, but he’s probably got about 7 guys on him.

Pregame – The first thing I have to do is choose a team. Since I don’t follow professional soccer at all, this is a bigger challenge than you might think. The only soccer team I’ve ever even heard of is Manchester United, and that was only because when I was a junior in high school some kid in my math class wouldn’t shut up about them. Upon remembering this, I immediately decide that any team other than “Man U” would be acceptable. I nearly chose Barcelona, due to their awesome sherbet orange colored jerseys, which look oddly similar to the old Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniforms. Still, something doesn’t quite seem right about them. I press on a little further and stumble upon a team called Real Madrid.

Real Madrid? I’m immediately intrigued by the fact that they needed to specify the fact that they were Real, and ponder the possibility that there might be a Fake Madrid out there. Would the Fake Madrid be an entire false city, or just a knock-off soccer team that pretends to be from Madrid? Just thinking of the intense rivalry that must exist between Real Madrid and Fake Madrid gets me excited. I choose Real Madrid as my team and immediately begin looking for Fake Madrid to select as my opponent.

After a few minutes of looking, I am unable to find Fake Madrid. A quick internet search reveals that there is no such thing as Fake Madrid, and that “real” is the Spanish word for royal. Dammit. Determined not to let this be too much of a setback, I stick with my choice of Real Madrid, and for an opponent, choose FC Lorient, based almost entirely on the fact that their logo appears to be fish balancing a soccer ball on its head. I’m assuming the FC stands for Fish Champions.

0:00 – As the teams take the field and the starting lineups are announced, I discover that I have David Beckham on my team. Yes! Since Beckham is the only active soccer player I’ve heard of, he therefore must also be the best player in the world. That’s only logical. A quick search online seems to reinforce this theory, and provides me with some important insight as well: David Beckham specializes in taking penalties. I immediately start formulating a game plan based around “Dirty” David Beckham tripping his opponents, punching them, and possibly just picking the ball up and throwing it into the goal, until I figure out that in soccer parlance, “taking penalties” refers not to the act of committing a penalty, but rather to the action of taking the free kick after the other team commits a foul. My new strategy is to somehow get my opponents to punch David Beckham, which shouldn’t be too hard since he invented the term “metrosexual” and married Posh Spice. I also discover that Beckham used to play for Manchester United, which in a weird way kind of makes me the equivalent of some English guy who doesn’t know anything about baseball but has heard of the Yankees and Derek Jeter.

12:41 – The game goes back and forth for a little bit, when all of a sudden, FC Lorient breaks through my defense and rushes in on goal. The attacking forward gently kicks the ball right to my goaltender, who catches it. For some reason, this impresses the hell out of the announcers, who go on and on about the “brilliant goalkeeping”. I can’t figure out why they’re so excited about this routine looking save, unless the Spanish league is a lot like a little kid’s soccer league, and most of the goalies are afraid of the ball.

14:13 – The goalies are definitely not afraid of the ball. Mine might be dead, though.

What happened is that Lorient broke through my sieve-like defense with another scoring rush. Once again, they kicked the ball right to my goalkeeper, but this time at about 100 miles an hour. Somehow, he manages to deflect this over the net. The announcers actually seem less impressed by this display of bravery than by the previous save.

1

Soccer players react to red cards with the kind of awe usually reserved for witnesses of religious miracles in Medieval paintings.

17:57 – One of my players slide tackles an opposing player from behind, resulting in a red card. This means that he is out of the game, and my team must play shorthanded for the remainder of the match. Going from 11 guys to 10 might not seem like a huge disadvantage, but because a soccer field is so large, it essentially means each player’s responsibility has gone from covering an area of the pitch about the size of Vermont to one about the size of Sudan.

24:53 – Scoring in soccer is really hard. That’s a big part of why 1-0 games are considered fairly normal. But while my defense seems to just let everyone on the other team run right by them, confident that scoring will just naturally stay low without their help, the other team takes a more active approach to defending. FC Lorient’s goal is so well defended that attacking it feels like storming the beaches of Normandy all by myself, armed only with a soccer ball. Even so, we do manage to get one good rush going, as my player works his way close to the net, then passes across the inner box to a wide open teammate a foot away from the wide open goal. This teammate then blasts the ball as hard as he can into the outside of the net. Scoring chance eliminated. My players all look disappointed, except for my defenders, who see this as justification that they don’t need to try. Scoring in soccer is just near-impossible on its own.

31:06 – Not ones to wallow in discouragement, Real Madrid soon gets another scoring opportunity. This time a player brings the ball up the sideline, then floats a “cross” (basically, a high kick across the goal area) to an open teammate. Showing an amazing display of skill and coordination, the teammate kicks the ball right out of mid-air, punting it well over the goal and into the upper deck of the stadium. I’m beginning to get frustrated.

34:43 – Beckham comes in on a rush, but is stopped after running right into an opposing player. Apparently simply being David Beckham isn’t enough to get past a defender.

44:02 – Or maybe it is. This time Beckham gets the ball, runs right past everyone on the other team, and basically kicks it through the opposing goalie. I feel kind of silly about all that “strategy” and “passing” I tried earlier. Apparently the trick to scoring in soccer is to simply run in a straight line and then kick the ball really hard.

45:00 – Halftime. Or at least it would be. As the clock reaches 45:00, a “+2” appears above it, indicating that more time has been added. See, the clock never stops in soccer…not for injuries, or the ball being kicked into the stands, or anything. So at the end of the half, they add a little bit of time to make up for it. How much time? Well, in this case, “+2”. I have no idea if that means seconds, minutes, or days, and the clock doesn’t bother going into anymore detail, it just sits there saying 45:00, with a “+2” above it. How much of that +2 has gone by? It doesn’t say. I hate to sound like some ignorant American, but how is this even remotely acceptable? Doesn’t anyone want to know how much time is left?

But as I play into this bonus time, I find out something even crazier. The announcers are going on about the “+2”, and what a nice thing it is for the fans that they do that now. Apparently, this is a recent innovation, and only a few years ago, the referee would not tell anyone how much time he was adding. He’d just stop the game at some previously undisclosed point after time had run out. Again, I have to ask: How was that ever ok?

After about two minutes (though that’s just a guess), the ref blows the whistle and we head into the locker room for halftime.

2

I swear, if those red and white striped jerseys are really what the US National Team wears, I’m moving to freaking Canada.

Halftime – Taking a one goal lead into the half, I try to figure out the best strategy for preserving this lead and coming away with a win. I think back to my youth soccer days and remember one team I played against, whose coach’s entire strategy seemed to consist of yelling “Don’t let them score!” over and over from the sideline. I decide to adopt this tactic into my overall strategy for the rest of the game, though I’m not abandoning my previous plan of trying to get my opponents to punch David Beckham in the face.

47:08 – Fish Champions Lorient starts with the ball this half, and within two minutes, are rushing past my hapless defenders toward the goal. The attacker comes in unchallenged, gets close to the net, and then lazily boots the ball out of bounds, as my goalie watches nonchalantly. I’m beginning to wonder if any of the players are taking this game seriously.

48:28 – Almost immediately after the previous scoring threat is averted, Lorient gets the ball back and again charges in on my goal. Once again, my defenders make ineffectual attempts to stop them, and once again my opponent breaks through for a great scoring chance. As the attacker gets past my defense, he winds up and kicks the ball as hard as he can, launching it over the goal and into the parking lot outside the stadium.

All these close calls are staring to worry me. I decide to change strategy and begin yelling “Don’t let them score!” in Spanish instead. ¡No permítales rayar!

52:38 – My new “Run in a straight line” strategy seems to be working rather well, as I am rewarded with another scoring chance. This time, my player is the one blasting the ball as hard as he can into the crowd. I can’t help but think that there’s a really good chance I just severely injured some poor spectator.

68:13 – My strategy has finally paid off! Beckham gets the ball, comes in on a rush, and then rather brutally has his legs taken out by a defender. Although this foul didn’t occur in the goal box, which would have lead to a one-on-one penalty kick from up close, this still means that he’ll be awarded a free kick not too far away from the goal — his specialty. I can’t wait to “Bend it Like Beckham” and put the game away…

…except that Beckham is still rolling around on the ground holding his leg. That’s not good.

It turns out that the sneaky bastards on FC Lorient have injured him. The offending player is given a red card and kicked out of the game, but I’m out my best player, and now someone else has to take the free kick. The replacement goes up, takes the kick, and…surprise! Knocks it into the crowd. I’m pretty sure with that kick we’ve now tied Lorient in the “shots kicked into crowd” category. This would be great if it were a home run derby.

81:59 – The game is almost over now, but FC Lorient comes in on another rush. “Don’t let them score!” I yell, feebly, as they get through my defense. My goalie thwarts them with a brilliant save, and is so pumped up about it (or else I just forgot the controls) that he celebrates by throwing the ball out of bounds, which essentially gives Lorient possession of the ball again. I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me.

4

That shot’s going wide. The goalie’s just trying to save some poor fan from a serious injury.

84:17 – It’s beginning to look like this is going to haunt me. Lorient has had constant possession of the ball in my end of the field ever since I threw the ball out of bounds. I’m yelling “Don’t let them score!” as hard as I can, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to hold them off for the remaining six minutes, plus the additional mystery time.

88:46 – Still haven’t gotten the ball back and the pressure’s really on. They get another good shot off, and it’s all my goalie can do to deflect it over the net. This allows the other team to take a corner kick, which is a fairly advantageous situation for them.

89:16 – They score. Dammit.

90:00 (+2) – Regulation ends with the score tied at one. I’m given the option of standard overtime, or something called “Golden Goal”. Standard overtime means we play a 15 minute overtime period, and if it’s still tied after that, we play another one. Golden Goal is the equivalent of what we here in the U.S. refer to as “Sudden Death” overtime, where the game ends as soon as one team scores. I’m assuming they shy away from calling it sudden death in FIFA because of all the fans who have already suffered a sudden death as the result of my errant shots.

Seeing as the goals each came about 45 minutes apart, the idea of both teams scoring within the same 15 minutes seems highly unlikely. I opt for Golden Goal; if only to avoid dragging out the inevitable should one team take a lead.

99:16 – After a few minutes of back and forth action, Real Madrid takes the ball and runs down the sideline. I cross the ball into the box, one of my players gets it and…GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL! We win!

I try to figure out who scored the winning goal, but on replay it’s revealed that the ball touched a defender on the way into the goal. This didn’t really affect the course of the shot at all, but the announcers are all over him for scoring on his own team. It seems kind of unfair, seeing as he didn’t actually kick the ball into his own goal or anything. But that’s not even the worst part — he’s the one credited with scoring the goal! That’s incredibly harsh – the kind of thing you might tease a guy about in a street hockey game, but would never actually expect to see in a professional sports league.

Later on, I go online and find out that “FC” actually stands for Football Club, not Fish Champions. This is a pretty embarrassing mistake – I had no idea the players were allowed to carry clubs.