News Article

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Developer Revs Up More Details on Co-Driver Mode

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Speaks positively of the Wii U hardware's capabilities

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is one of a handful of titles coming to Wii U in March, in this case in both Europe and North America. Most pleasingly for owners of Nintendo's system it's more than a port handed off to a secondary studio, but is being produced by the highly regarded Criterion team.

Earlier today we brought you news from a developer demo, including details on a God-style mode incorporating the GamePad. The team over at Eurogamer has spent time getting to grips with the title while speaking to Criterion producer Rob O'Farrell, gaining more insight into the "Co-Driver" mode.

The Co-Driver mode was inspired by some Wii U launch titles, with the GamePad player overseeing and influencing events and the environment for the other player focused on the TV. Simple and clear touch buttons on the GamePad screen can influence the time of day, turn traffic on and off, highlight areas or items on the map and disrupt pursuing cops, while enabling the mode also opens up the whole world for quick access and play. Rather than areas being locked away, this mode lets you choose almost any content or race that you want.

Once the Wii U was out and we spent time playing the software in the office and with our families at home, it really changed our thought process and approach to the platform. With games like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo delivered a new way of playing together in the same room. A great part of that was having one person in full control of the game, with another watching and occasionally helping them progress. With this in mind, the Co-Driver mode became our focus, so we could bring social play into the living room on Most Wanted, but with a Nintendo feel. It couldn't be hidden away, it had be easy to understand what to do and have that feel of Nintendo quality on the platform.

...We wanted to make the game accessible from the moment you boot up software. If you only had 30 minutes to play then we wanted to make sure that 30 minutes was a great experience and allow the players to pick any car, any race.

With everything open, it enables the player to swap from a Porsche to Lamborghini on the fly, respray the car, find a race and have their 'partner' direct them to all the collectables without the restriction of, 'Oh, that isn't open yet.' It creates a negative feeling within the experience and we wanted to get rid of that and give you a mode that is all about driving around the city, having fun without any constraints.

This mode can be used by single players and reportedly changes the feel of the title to a "sandbox" racer; Criterion has stressed, however, that those ranking areas affected by this mode are highlighted clearly, and when playing competitively relevant features from this mode are disabled.

Criterion also spoke positively about the Wii U hardware itself, explaining that it had allowed the team to use Xbox 360/PS3 geometry with PC textures. Developing after the initial launch apparently gave the team access to a greater range of tools and support from Nintendo, allowing greater use of the hardware. Idries Hamadi, technical director, said the following:

When they first looked at the specs on paper a lot of developers said, 'Well, you know this is a bit lightweight' and they walked away. I think a lot of people have been premature about it in a lot of ways because while it is a lower clock-speed, it punches above its weight in a lot of other areas.

So, I think you've got one group of people who walked away, you've got some other people who just dived in and tried and thought, 'Ah... it's not kind of there,' but not many people have done what we've done, which is to sit down and look at where it's weaker and why, but also see where it's stronger and leverage that. It's a different kind of chip and it's not fair to look at its clock-speed and other consoles' clock-speed and compare them as numbers that are relevant. It's not a relevant comparison to make when you have processors that are so divergent. It's apples and oranges.

...The Wii U has had a bit of a bad rap - people have said it's not as powerful as 360, this, that and the other. That, by and large, has been based on apples to oranges comparisons that don't really hold water. Hopefully we'll go some way to proving that wrong.

Nintendo don't speak about that, it's not their core focus at all but they did their 'Iwata Asks' about the hardware and it talks consistently about how they got to keep it quiet with low power consumption, and they totally did that... but what they haven't really championed is how they delivered something that could do this as well [he points to the 50-inch Panasonic playing host to Most Wanted U]... It's possible. It's work. You have to think about it and put time and craft and effort and whatever else into it but you have to do that for everything that's worth doing in this business... I think people should either go all-in or not bother.

Based on the captured game footage below, it looks like Criterion has gone all in.

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User Comments (25)



MAB said:

Cool so the haters can now take a backseat and stand down from their soapbox I'm gonna support the extra effort Criterion has put into NFS at the same time as knowing I will have the definitive version.



ajcismo said:

I love it when dev's like Mr. O'Farrell actually know what they're talking about and pay attention to what's going on in the world around them. Bringing up the Iwata Asks tells me the guy is serious about the work he does and is proud of it. Never been much of a racing game fan, but NFS U is now on my radar because of the sense of quality he wants to bring.



RedYoshi999 said:

Nice! Can't wait to get my hands on the demo, I'm seriously considering getting the game now. Looks like my Wii U is becoming a home for racing games, with this, Sonic Racing and Mario Kart all games I'll have.



antdickens said:

I've been playing this on my Xbox 360, which is of course a decent game, looking forward to seeing if the Wii U can top it though.



gavn64 said:

come on guys we gotta band together and support this game as nintendo fans we owe it too criterion for going beyond the call of duty



Sean_Aaron said:

Really nice and a great counterpoint to other articles about EA's attitude towards the Wii U.

The processor comparison arguments are absolutely correct and are a sad repeat of the dark days when Apple computers were built around 680x0 CPUs and later PowerPC - which is the same processor family the Wii and Wii U use. If the architecture isn't the same then clock speeds aren't really relevant. It's not the number of cycles per second that matter, but what you can do with them. Unless you actually program on the systems or have a propeller head understanding of how the CPUs in question work, "which is faster" is not a question which can be answered casually.

The co-driver mode sounds brilliant. One of the things I like about the Wii U is the ability to play a game or have my daughter play a game and the other player can participate in some other way. She doesn't necessarily want to play a racing game, but I bet she'd have fun playing navigator or playing with the controls. In a game genre that isn't "family-oriented" that's pretty cool!



DrMonk said:

"You have to think about it and put time and craft and effort and whatever else into it but you have to do that for everything that's worth doing in this business..."

Wow! Sounds like quite a passionate team. Just like any platform, if you put into making the game work well for THAT hardware then you will reap the rewards. Sounds like this team has done their homework, and that pushes this game onto my must buy list.



aaronsullivan said:

Nintendo needs to get this team working with other western developers in some way or somehow take what they've learned and spread it around. Current console geometry with PC textures is a good starting point for other ports, for instance.



AJWolfTill said:

Holy SH*T
Just realised how insanely awesome it would be if the WiiU Mariokart had an openworld Mushroom Kingdom in addtion to the standard tracks....
Anyways, I think the only racing game I actually own is 1080 on N64 but I am seriously considering supporting this team for their efforts!



Schprocket said:

So we have the Criterion crew AND the Ubisoft Montpelier crew who finished Rayman Legends (regardless of some random bean-counters decision, be it Microsoft chucking a hissy-fit or not) who have proven that the machine is (a) not a cow to develop for and (b) possible to create great multiplatform games and still leverage that unique Nintendo 'twist' without the sacrifices faced by the Wii.
Makes me wonder just how much other developers have looked at the Wii U or if they've just been incredibly lazy, jumped to conclusions like the frequency-freaks have.
I suspect they have been content to let the last three weeks of negative press justify/smokescreen their unwillingness to get off their arses and learn a new machine. Again bean-counters don't help - they only want to sell the same old crap on the same old boxes with an incremental release number because of the promise of a good return for relatively very little outlay.



Gigagator said:

This is great news and backs up what I've been telling my friends for a while now since we had some leaked specifications. People that claim Wii U is on par with Xbox 360 don't know what they're talking about and it shows.

It also draws a very nice comparison with other developers such as Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games. They looked at the clock rate of the CPU, clearly, tried to get it to run with very little optimization and failed, and then blasted the console and it's CPU as 'slow and horrible.'

All that tells a gamer is that the developers at 4A Games are ignorant and lazy and I won't be buying Metro: Last Light on any platform because of that. They represent everything that is wrong with the industry right now.

Kudos to Criterion Games, though. Most Wanted is a preorder for me.



Farmboy74 said:

If Criterion are going all in, so am I. As others have said as a community we need to support this game by buying it. All we need now is more devs to take this approach and learn the system inside and out and be content with lazy ports



WarioPower said:

I need to get this game! Not just for the fact the game itself sounds awesome, but also to support these great developers!



tre said:

I totally agree with Farmboy74.
I very rarely buy racers but I must support this team.

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