At some point in my life, it struck that I will never be a race car driver nor will I find myself a Fast and Furious-style street racer of any sort. I am not sure that either of those notions upset me as such, but I do get an incredible kick out of playing a good racing game.
Now, while some racing games prize realism, there are others which prize… let's say awesomeness. It isn't that realism can't be awesome, it's much more that being in the middle of a street race with nine other cars through a gorgeously rendered city; having the police chase you through that city during the race; hitting a bridge badly causing your car to barrel roll three or four times, and then getting to pick up the race from that exact spot a few seconds later is nearly always awesome. Especially if there's a sense of speed an exhilaration that accompanies such a ludicrous feat during an insane race.
Let me say this – unequivocally, the new Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a supremely wonderful arcade racer. It is gorgeous to look at, the cars are plentiful, the races are wild, and there is plenty to do.
The drawback to it all is that the game requires you to be self-motivated. There really is no story and while there are a few cars you can get by winning races, the vast majority of the cars are—literally—just sitting there waiting to be found. Rather than having to go out and wins races to get money to buy new rides, in this Most Wanted, you drive around the city trying to spot where the cars are parked and then just drive up to them to add them to your stable.
I don't mind that, but I can understand where some folks would find it upsetting. After a few hours, the entire game ends up feeling a little like a story-based adventure title (Assassin's Creed) where you've beaten the game and are just going for that 100% completion by grabbing all the odds and ends you skipped earlier.
Put another way, Need for Speed: Most Wanted quickly shows you what it is (an outstanding arcade racer) and then asks you to love it or leave it. The game isn't going to go and give you some storyline or entice you with new bits and pieces (beyond the basic "get points so you can level up your car and race the next boss" stuff). It wants you to love it for what it is, to keep racing and searching for cars because you've set that goal for yourself not because the game has set if for you.