Need For Speed Most Wanted interview: Inside the PS Vita version

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Need For Speed Most Wanted interview: Inside the PS Vita version

NFSMW lead image

Next week sees the keenly anticipated release of Need for Speed Most Wanted, the latest release from Criterion Games – the legendary UK racing specialist behind the Burnout series and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, the phenomenal 2010 entry in EA‘s long-running street racing franchise.

That the PlayStation 3 version is very, very good should come as no surprise, but somewhat more unexpected is the amount of care the studio has lavished on replicating the experience on PlayStation Vita. Producer Matt Webster and his team have squeezed almost the entire game onto the handheld, and even found room for a little bit of extra content exclusive to the system.

We sat down with Matt earlier this week to find out exactly how Criterion has pulled it off.

What was your goal when you first started developing the Vita version of Most Wanted?

Matt Webster: It was to make the same game – that was the goal. As much as we possibly could, we wanted to deliver all the great things about the console version of the game: an open world, freedom, choice, variety, highly connected. All those principles looked like they were achievable on the machine, so that was what we set out to do.

What were the main challenges you met during development?

Matt Webster: You just run across performance challenges. Some of those are fundamental, which you learn to overcome as development progresses, and others you have to make some compromises.

What kind of compromises are we talking about exactly?

Matt Webster: It is exactly the same game [as the PlayStation 3 version] apart from traffic density and number of players online. But I think that the asynchronous play is actually going to be more important.


How exactly does that work?

Matt Webster: So, if you play the single-player game, and then play muliplayer, any Speed Points you earn in SP also drive your MP progression, and that’s true when you play the game on Vita too. Anything you earn on Vita carries across to the console version. It’s a unified scoring system.

Everything you do in the game earns Speed Points. Speed Points determine your position on the Most Wanted list. Am I outscoring my friends; have I reached the necessary score threshold to take on one of the Most Wanted drivers in the solo game; what speed level am I at in MP; what have I unlocked, and so on. I can push up my Speed Point level on PS3 multiplayer when I’m mobile with the Vita, and vice versa.

The easy option would have been to contract an external developer to work on the Vita version but you decided to keep it in-house. Why?

Matt Webster: It was something we wanted to do. It looked like the machine was going to be capable of delivering what we wanted to do. And the way that we work is very iterative – build, play, change, build, play, change – that’s how we work. When you go external it generally only works when you’ve got a finished game, otherwise there are too many moving parts.

So, it looked like something we’d be able to do and we were going to be able to push ourselves in some new directions. It was difficult, but we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge.


Do you think a massive open world racing game like Most Wanted is a good fit for a portable gaming device?

Matt Webster: I do. The game is about freedom and choice. We have a saying – ‘not playing the game is the game’. What that means is that not playing the authored experience that most games deliver for you actually is very important and a really significant part of the game.

The way that these devices are used – they’re picked up, they have some play, and they’re put down. It might be high frequency play, but not necessarily high amplitude, where I’m spending long sessions with it. Our game can work in either of those scenarios. I think the asynchronous part of it is going to be really powerful on that device – do something, have Autolog pick it up, and send it back.

I think it will turn out to be something that Vita owners didn’t realise was possible on that machine – it is quite a significant achievement to do an open world game to the level of quality that we’ve managed. And then to have something as highly connected as it is – that’s something fresh and new. I think it will find a really good home on Vita.

What kind of exclusive PS Vita content have you included?

Matt Webster: There are some exclusive Vita races and events in there for players to discover. It’s another way for players to earn exclusive SP – it’s an extra reward for having the game on multiple devices and it allows us to do something specifically tuned to that device.

Have you used the PS Vita’s unique features in any way?

Matt Webster: We’ll use the touch screen for changing music tracks and in some parts of the interface but the rest of it… you have to use those things where they serve a purpose, otherwise they’re just a gimmick. You run the risk of it not being taken seriously. We’ll absolutely use it when it makes sense to use it.

Presumably you’ll be supporting the PS3 version post launch with DLC. Will that also apply to the PS Vita version?

Matt Webster: Well, we’ll clarify that when the time comes.

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12 Author Replies

  • Footage of it, please

    • Not sure why EA hasn’t released any footage. It’s a nice looking game and plays great. If we do get a trailer through, I’ll be sure to post it.

    • We’re also trying to get some footage for Access TV slayer. Hopefully next week :)

  • will it have the Cross-buy functionality ?
    looking forward to this game

  • No official word if its cross buy or not but looks like a no just now. If the bring out a pack with the two games for a decent price then I’ll get it for sure. Buying either at full price sounds like a rip off after hearing about cross buy possibilities

  • Fred, sorry if this is off topic but I really need you to answer.

    Will Black Ops 2 be released on the PSN store digitally and if so when ? Im aware all of the Call of Duty games have arrived digitally eventually, but they’ve taken months to do so (MW 3 JUST arrived). The reason I ask this is because I have £51 credit on my PSN account and really want to purchase Black Ops 2, if its not coming to the store I’ll preorder it retail.

    Also on a more related topic, what happend to the Cross Buy discussions for this game ?

    • Sorry – that’s probably a question for Activision. Jawad might know the answer but he’s not in the office today.

      As for Cross-Buy, I haven’t heard anything to suggest that’s happening but I’ll check with EA.

  • £60 on the store is far too cheap, I’m buying five copies at that bargain price! No, wait, sorry – at £60, that’s how many digital copies you’ll ACTUALLY sell.

    Luckily, I’ll be picking up the much more reasonably priced retail version which will be fantastic. Sorry, Criterion fanboy since the original Burnout here…

  • Sorry I will not buy this game. Seriously you have not showed a SINGLE trailer or gameplay video. All you have showed is 3 screenhots.

    Why do you think I would buy this game when I have not seen anything from it? My money will go to AC:Liberation because they are not afraid to show footage.

  • Did you mean Vita video footage?

  • Well Fred, if EA/Criterion isn’t going to provide a trailer or footage of the Vita port, we might not know if it’s going to a be crappy 3DS port or not. Because look at WB Games, they just port their games from the 3DS.

    • I agree, a trailer would be nice to see. But take a look at the interview. Matt explains they’ve developed the Vita version in-house at Criterion – given their track record, that should be a guarantee of quality.

  • Youtube does have unofficial footage of the Vita version if you search, but there’s limited official footage (and it doesn’t state what platform). It looks incredibly similar to the PS3 version though and IGN say that it’s potentially a very good port.

  • What’s the deal with the resident evil orc price? Why are you ripping us off again scee? Ps I’d stay on topic of you’d bother addressing the dozens of questions with regards to this that ate in the correct place

  • @ FRED

    I would like to add to admur82’s post & ask why Dead Rising 2: Off The Record has only been reduced by 20% instead of the advertised 50%?

    I would stay on-topic but the vast amount of questions on these titles, have still been unanswered!

    A simple reply would quash these questions!

  • Hey Fred,
    Just wanted to get heard. I am buying plus as soon as its available on vita. I just hope that all the ps3 goodies can also be added to my download list via vita because otherwise I and many other vita owners will be unable to take full advantage of plus.

    On the topic, I really dont know what to buy next, AC-Liberation or Most Wanted. But EA has made me a little skeptical of the game just because they haven’t released any footage of it, which is seldom a good sign.

  • Is this Vita screen ?

  • Do none of the people moaning about no trailers = no buy know how to use google?

    There are countless game play clips out there now from various show events. The game looks great. Next week can’t come soon enough.

    If you are a Vita owner then it’s in your interest to get behind this game and hope that it sells incredibly well instead of just moaning about cross buy and trailers. It’s a fantastic leap of faith Criterion have taken to push this game out – matching the console release as close as they possibly could. If it sells well then other developers will see that the Vita is a viable market and we will start seeing more games on our beloved platform.

  • I would like to know what graphical compromises they have made. From videos i have seen it doesn’t look that the cars take any damage apart from scratches and there isn’t any animated spoilers on cars like the porsche, where the spoiler rises at certain speeds. I know its only something small but it makes a big difference! Even the ios version has it, surely it wouldn’t have affected the framerate to add it in :/

    We definately need some official footage soon.

  • Sorry for another post, I had to ask few more things-
    1. Its Dokoro slated to come to eu anytime soon? Looks really awesome!
    2. When will Virtues last reward land on psn, as it has separate release dates for different eu countries?

    A response will be appreciated as I am looking forward to buying these games.

    Cheers! :)

    • Sorry, please stay on topic. These are questions for the Store post – Jawad will be able to answer when he’s back next week.

  • So, the US version of this game is cross-buy (proof:
    Can anyone confirm this will also be the case in Europe, and what are the restrictions on this deal? Digital only? Buy the PS3, get the Vita version?

    Thanks for the background story on this game, it really looks like a killer race game!

  • Can you confirm the damage on VITA mate,I heard we lack that.

    • Alas, I can neither confirm or deny – it honestly wasn’t something I paid attention to during my brief time with the game. Sorry!

  • I feel the need to echo what ‘dirtyCAT79’ has said.

    ALL Vita owners should be buying this! I’ve never bought a racing game in my life but I’m 99% certain I’ll be picking this one up. It sounds like it’s going to push the Vita a little bit & I for one am interested to see how it handles.

    If the promises of an almost identical experience compared to the console versions turns out to be true then we should be showing the devs some support for taking a chance our our beloved little handheld. Who knows, maybe a few other devs will follow suit if this is a success?

  • Its NOT cross buy! Look at mortal kombat on the vita, that says 2 hanheld and 2 home consoles. That isn’t cross buy.

    please can you found out if it the same damage mechanic as the ps3 and if they are planning to patch in the moving spoilers?

    Thanks :D

  • I sexond AshishSahoo question, I was planing to get PSPlus some time ago although I dont have a PS3 just to have some games when I finally get the console, but then I got to know that all “free” games you still have to redeem when they are available. Now I consider getting plus when it’s made available on the vita, but I would like to have option to reedem also PS3 games.

  • any word on a demo for the ps3 version please :)
    looks like a good game but I want to try before I buy
    thanks :)

  • @17
    There is no cross-buy announced for 3rd party titles yet. The lower part mentioned in the screenshot is a user license agreement of sorts which you will find below every game listed in psn.

  • @chrisboers – That doesn’t mean it’s cross-play. It’s a standard blanket contract statement on all game downloads.

  • Sorry, I mean cross-buy.

  • Next week!!?? I will have it in hand next week! We need footage before launch. Every other platform has official footage, even ios! If this is as good as i think it is then they should be getting something out there for fans!

  • @Fred
    Sorry mate. I asked them here as no one was responding in sales section. Didn’t know Jawad isn’t here for a week.

  • There does seem to be a lack of ps vita footage for a few of the big franchise games on the vita. Has anyone else noticed the lack of footage for call of duty: black ops: declassified? If we want more peiple to buy the vita we need to show off what this hand held can do with these big franchises. It’s these games that are console movers.

    The game sounds great though. Have always loved need for speed and was a huge fan of Burnout Paridise. Already paid off my copy :-)

  • there’s loads of gameplay for this from the NYCC just go on youtube it looks good the graphics are “just” noticeably different (on buildings ect) however if theres no demo for this or ac:liberation i know many people wont buy as have been let down by vita ports before

  • More complainers complaining about something this post isn’t about.

    Seriously people, take a long hard look at yourselves.

    SCEE, can you clean this place up at all? I don’t want to read comments like this in a post about NFS on the Vita.

    • Indeed. As explained in other threads, I’ll give one warning and then off-topic posts will likely disappear. Apologies not everyone got their questions answered in the Store post this week. Jawad was away, but he’s back on Monday, and normal service will resume then. Now, back to NSFMW…

  • There you go guys:

    I think the game’s weak point will be the low traffic density..

  • Looks interesting but the PS3 version is currently £26 on, so Ill be getting that!

  • Nice one Fred and MB :)

  • hi fred i want to ask you something about the game
    will this game have cross play like the one on PS all star BR or not if yes what is the maximum player will play between PS3 and PS vita
    thnx :)

  • @Fred, people want to see more Vita footage right now. Next week will be nice as it will still show the game off to fence sitters but that’s just it, people want to gauge more before the game comes out. It’s sad that I’m leaning towards this over a game which I’ve seen media and OS screencaps (AC3 Liberation). I want to buy this and don’t want to have some glaring issues. I just want to see how well it runs and all I’ve read is that it’s fine but I want to see that. All we have is some convention camera footage. Come on now.

    • Hey, I agree, it would be great to have some footage! But it’s an EA game, not a Sony one, so there’s nothing I can do to give you any, other than ask EA, which I have done. I’m doing my best to bring you as much info about the game as I can!

  • No problem. Can we at least have word on a day 1 PS+ discount on the Vita version? I’m from the states but you’re the first to even answer my post so I appreciate that.

    • Ah, I’m afraid the Plus set-up is different in the US to the EU, so you’d have to give Sid or Jeff a shout for info. Tell ’em I sent ya!

  • Hey fred, i understand you didn’t notice the damage whilst playing but, can you not contact somebody to either confirm or deny if it has the same crash mechanic as the ps3?

    I have asked ea several times and got no response. I have also asked @needforspeed and they reply with yes it has damage, but i want to know wether it is dents and bumps and things falling off.

    any footage i see it just looks like generic scratches that dont represent where the vehicle has been hit :/

    In my opinion the damage from a crash has always been integral to criterions games and it would be a real shame if it didn’t have that. I understand sacrifices do have to be madebut i hope that this wasn’t one of them ;)


  • “Have you used the PS Vita’s unique features in any way?

    Matt Webster: We’ll use the touch screen for changing music tracks and in some parts of the interface but the rest of it… you have to use those things where they serve a purpose, otherwise they’re just a gimmick. You run the risk of it not being taken seriously. We’ll absolutely use it when it makes sense to use it.”

    – That’s exactly what I think way too many developers are doing using special features as gimmicks! I’m glad Criterion chose not to do that, and that they kept the Vita version in-house. It sounds really great!

  • @shortman

    Compromises and design choices have been made. There was some who were disappointed at the lack of slow motion crash scenes for take downs.

    You also can’t reasonably expect the game to sport all the fancy effects. If it means not having as many scratches or slightly less detail on particles then so be it. The experience is all there and it still looks great by hand held standards.

    I still want to know about that PS+ Vita discount though :)

  • Also a quick follow up to clarify, it seems that the slow motion “action takedowns” are different on all versions. I wasn’t pointing it out for just Vita but the console/PC versions are like that too from I read.

  • @above: NOT all products state “2 consoles and 2 portable systems”. Assassin’s Creed 3 doesn’t.

  • Fred, thanks for doing your job well. I wish Criterion would just release some footage, or AT LEAST some more screenshots for this game. It’s frustrating to us Vita gamers who want to know for sure that what we are getting is quality. And Criterion must not have a community manager since there’s no Twitter account or easy way to talk to them. They are one of my favorite studios ever, but it’s annoying the lack of media we have on this game. Two official screenshots, no video, and the game is out in four days.

  • @Liquid hey i totally understand that, i still have this game paid off and it still looks like the best racing game on the vita by miles.

    the thing is though, as i stated. the crashes are part and parcel of criterions pedigree, and to leave that out seems wierd. I also mentioned about the moving spoilers, to me it seems strange that they would go to all that trouble to make the player vehicles look super detailed and authentic, and then leave that out :/

    Surely it wouldn’t impact the game atall to have the spoiler rise and fall at certain speeds, but it would add so much more to the authenticity of it ;)

    Either way this game is a winner for me but i just wanted clarification on those two things :D

  • will it be available in ps store for vita in its release date ?

  • It’s certainly not £26 for the PS3 version on Shopto..

    It’s £36.85

  • Now, now frodouk, stay on topic please ;)

  • @45 yeah it is! The vita version is £36 I said the PS3 version is £26 hence why I’m getting the PS3 version not the vita.

  • Do crossbuy, huge rebate on the Vita version or a pack with both games, or else the Vita version is not going to move lots of sales, when there is a “better” PS3 version out there.

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