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Is Need for Speed Most Wanted Free? Only the 2012 Reboot, Not the 2005 Original

As a long-time Need for Speed fan, few games ignite my nostalgia more than the revolutionary open-world racing of Most Wanted. While the 2012 reboot version is currently free on Origin, unfortunately the iconic 2005 original remains a paid title. In this guide, let‘s explore what makes both Most Wanted editions so special, and why they remain two of the most beloved games in the NFS franchise after nearly 20 years.

Need for Speed Took the Racing Genre by Storm

During the 2000s, Need for Speed was the dominant street racing game franchise. It pioneered the "tuner culture" and popularized racing with souped up illegal customized cars. Most Wanted topped over 16 million units sold on PS2 alone!

Other racing giants like Forza and Gran Turismo focused more on legality and simulations. But Need for Speed captured youth culture with its embrace of underground car modding and high-speed police chases. Driving a 1000HP Mitsubishi Evo to escape cops simply felt cool.

Most Wanted brought the excitement to PC in stunning detail. Let‘s see how the 2005 original and 2012 reboot compare.

2005 vs 2012: Features, Cars, Soundtrack

FeaturesMost Wanted 2005Most Wanted 2012
World Map Size10mi x 10mi6mi x 6mi
Number of Cars35 at launch41 at launch
Soundtrack Songs8941
Maximum Heat Level65
Pursuit TechSpike strips, SUV rhinosElectronic countermeasures, stun mines
MultiplayerLAN parties onlySeamless online play

While the 2005 map was bigger, the 2012 reboot had more detailed graphics thanks to improved hardware. Both deliver a thrilling sense of speed and freedom.

In terms of cars, the 2012 version featured more European exotics and a mix of muscle cars. The 2005 originalfocused heavily on Japanese tuners like the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Subaru Impreza and Mazda RX-7 which aligned with the underground tuner theme.

Personally nothing matches the adrenaline rush of escaping a 5-star chase in my 900hp RX-7 with the 2005‘s thumping rap/rock soundtrack blasting. But fans praise 2012‘s soundtrack diversity and driving physics too. Ultimately there‘s no wrong choice!

Innovation in DLC and Multiplayer

Most Wanted pioneered DLC done right. While the 2005 version only had paid car packs, the 2012 reboot offered substantial free updates:

  • Cars – Lamborghini Aventador, Porsche 918 Spyder
  • Modes – Challenge Series with 69 new races
  • Multiplayer features – team racing and new events

Plus, online multiplayer transitioned from clunky LAN parties in 2005 to seamless integrated matchmaking by 2012. This let you instantly race friends to earn bounty and battle cops together.

Tips for New Most Wanted Drivers

For new players just starting their first Most Wanted journey, here are some tips:

Choose an All-Rounder Car

Cars like the Lancer Evo and Lexus IS300 are fast and durable. This lets you learn without being too overwhelmed. Save glass cannons like the Koenigsegg CCX for later.

Focus on Heat Level 1-3 Crimes Early

Rack up milestones by outrunning lower heat cops first. This unlocks mods to take on higher heats. Russian roulette with heat 5 cops at the start never ends well!

Prioritize Evading Over Busting

Don‘t try to destroy every cop early on. Focus on breaking line of sight and escaping first. This minimizes costly resets. Once you unlock stronger pursuit tech, then go wild on the offense!

Epic Chases and Discoveries to Beat Most Wanted

Veterans striving for 100% completion will need to master advanced maneuvers. Here are some personal challenges I recommend:

  • Outrun a Heat 6 chase using only nitrous bursts

  • Lose the cops by hiding in a parking garage top floor

  • Discover the secret pools, farms and windmill valley areas

  • Find all Billboards, Vistas, and shortcut jumps

After hundreds of hours across both games, I‘m still making epic getaways and finding new secrets. That‘s the true mark of a timeless classic!

Most Wanted Sets the Gold Standard for Racing Games

While games like Gran Turismo provide an incredible simulation experience, and Forza Horizon offers picturesque open worlds, Need for Speed Most Wanted combines the best of both. It provides an immersive world and just enough realism to make driving feel visceral, while focusing on thrilling cop battles and street culture.

Most Wanted teaches us that sometimes, we all just want to let loose and break the rules in the safety of virtual worlds. We want to push exotic cars to their limits and get that adrenaline rush. That raw fun factor is why Need for Speed continues to delight millions of gamers worldwide 25+ years later!

So while only the 2012 reboot is free today, I highly recommend giving the 2005 original a shot as well. Or just grab both – at under $20 each, Most Wanted provides endless hours of entertainment. Now let‘s fire up our engines and see if you‘ve got what it takes to become Most Wanted!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.