Need for Speed Most Wanted Pursuit System
Need for Speed Most Wanted features pursuit evasion in the game for the first time since Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2. In Career mode, police pursuits may occur during a race or during free roaming through the city, depending on the frequency of the police units in the area and the offenses players have committed. The player can initiate a pursuit immediately from the game's Safe House or menu by choosing an unfinished Milestone or a Bounty challenge. Pursuits can also be initiated by selecting an appropriate Challenge in Challenge mode. Traffic offenses committed by the player are known in game as Infractions.
The police pursuit system is significantly more complex than its previous Hot Pursuit incarnations. The manner in which the police handle a player is now determined by the "heat level" of the player's current car (although this has been similarly utilized in Hot Pursuit 2). Heat levels, which increase with the length of a police pursuit and the amount of damage caused by the player during the pursuit, add a twist to the pursuit. The higher the car's heat level, the more aggressive the police units are against the player, employing additional tactics and tools, such as roadblocks, spike strips, police helicopters and heavier and faster police cars such as police SUV's. Over twenty police cars may be observed pursuing a single car under higher Heat levels (thirty police cars are pursuing the player's car in the final pursuit). There are five heat levels in the game (with a hidden sixth and seventh heat level at the end of Career mode and in the Black Edition respectively), three authoritative levels (Civic/Local, State, and Federal), and ten police vehicles.
Players will have to be careful in pursuits as a higher wanted level may prompt Cross to join the pursuit in a Chevrolet Corvette C6(.R) with customized paintwork.
In Career mode, pursuits are integrated into the game in such a way that it is necessary to challenge Blacklist racers. Completing "Milestones," which involves committing at least a specified amount of traffic offenses or pursuit lengths during a chase, and collecting an amount of "Bounty", a form of credit accumulated as players continue to evade the police or damage police units, are requirements. A car's Heat level may be reduced by changing the physical appearance of a car by changing body parts or paint color, an alternative to lowering the players heat is by using another purchased car with a lower heat level to race in the streets. Rap Sheets, with records such as the player's infractions, cost to state, deployed tactics and pursuit lengths, are also available for viewing by "hacking" into police records, and also includes the player's standing in each individual record against those of other Blacklist racers.
Players are provided with several additional features which are useful during pursuits. The Speedbreaker, provided within the driving interface, slows down time (similar to bullet time), momentarily adds weight to the player's car allowing it to become more difficult for other vehicles (especially police vehicles) to push around, and induces a drift. This allows the player a limited amount of time to quickly maneuver the car out of difficult situations, or assess an escape route through a road block or spike strip blockade. Another feature in Most Wanted are Pursuit Breakers, road-side objects which are designed to collapse when a player uses their car to knock down its support, either damaging or disabling following police cars (which can be visually seen in many cases). In one example, if a player smashes through a gas station, the roof of the station falls crushing unlucky police units following them. In addition, players are also required to ensure that they are not spotted again by the police shortly after evading all police units; a "Cooldown" period is required to be met before police units give up and cancel a perimeter search of the player's car. Cooldown spots, hiding spots where players may park in, are also scattered around the city in places like underground carparks, helping to shorten the Cooldown period and end pursuits quickly. However, certain hiding spots may still be exposed and may be discovered by searching police units.
While the game features police cars, including those in the form of Pontiac GTOs and Chevrolet Corvette C6s, Most Wanted does not allow players to play as a pursuing police in chases. However, players may drive several police cars in Challenge mode, but are solely used in checkpoint races and police pursuits, where the police are still pursuing the player.