It's all about the sandbox and the fun that entails. There'll be no playing as the cops either, with Webster pointing you to Hot Pursuit for that. Around "two or three times" more road than Paradise.
Most Wanted doesn't use the same iteration of the engine as Criterion worked into Hot Pursuit as they're quite different beasts. It's also not using Frostbite 2 unlike NfS: The Run.
"No," replied Matt Webster when asked if Most Wanted had a storyline. "Ten most wanted cars. There can be only one. Games are way too serious. We just want to get back to the fun. There's too much shooting." There's also no chance of playing the coppers: "Hot Pursuit is the game for you if you want to play as the police."
Criterion are using their own engine to power Most Wanted and not DICE's Frostbite 2. Still it's quite different from what they utilised for Hot Pursuit. "It's a version of it," explained Webster. "All the handling's brand new. Hot Pursuit retained Criterion's DNA of handling for having a great time really quickly, but you spent a lot of time at 180-200," he said referring to MPH. "Here, you're in an open-world, you need to make very fast decisions, you need different surfaces."
"We wanted to make 30-100 feel really fun and fast, so it's a whole new handling system, and of course the mods change everything up as well. It's deeper than we've ever done before but retains that Criterion signature of making the cars handle how I'd believe they would handle in real life, how I expect to be able to drive them."
The team made the trade-off for greater visual fidelity over achieving a 60fps title. "...it's in our nature to take something beautiful and smash it up, to get the fidelity that we want, to get these cars looking amazing, these are the best looking cars ever. That's the trade-off we make." Latency between controls and screen are at the 60hz level, he said.
"That's the most important thing for us: how we can make the latency between the controller and what you see on the screen as quick as possible. If you want to run the game at 1080p at 60Hz then the PC is the platform for you."
Most Wanted is bigger than Burnout Paradise but the team don't measure the game that way. "Big. How big is this room? It's difficult," he added. "We don't talk about the... For us it's about the play. For comparison, in area terms we are slightly bigger than Paradise. We're smaller than Hot Pursuit but Hot Pursuit was big long roads that take up a lot of space."
Webster affirmed there's "way more gameplay in this one. It's more than just a road network. I think we're two or three times the road network length that we were in Paradise, but it's way more open than it's ever been before."
"We know from our experience with Paradise that players love that. There are buildings that I can drive through, drive under, drive to the top of, drive off of the top of; it's that playability which is more important to us. That's why it's almost a meaningless comparison to talk about square metres or length of road."
Most Wanted will be supporting Kinect for Xbox 360 but it's only for use with voice commands, he revealed. PlayStation Move however will have a greater role in manipulating the game including "a bit of fun" as the lights flash red and blue for cop chases. In Most Wanted you can have your charming face plastered over in-game billboards.
"We'll take your PS3 or your Xbox avatar, but if you go to NeedForSpeed.com we'll upload a picture or you might be able to connect to some other sources to get a profile picture, and then the system picks it up and puts it up automatically." It's all part of having a more involved Autolog feature set to keep racers in love with stats and other quirks.
"...we think we're probably the most highly connected social game of this generation. Everything that we've learnt from doing open-world in Paradise and connectivity of Hot Pursuit, we're just bringing it together."
Check out thebetween Matt Webster and VideoGamer.com. Need for Speed: Most Wanted releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC October 31st in the US, November 2nd in EU.