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Yes, NFS Most Wanted 2012 is Still Free on PC

That‘s right, EA‘s Need for Speed Most Wanted from 2012 can be downloaded and played for free right now on Windows PC! Originally released in 2012 for consoles and PC, EA decided to make the PC version permanently free in 2021 after removing it from sale on digital platforms. Read on to learn everything you need to know about grabbing this open-world street racer for zero cost.

I‘ll cover how to download it, compare it to previous games, analyze why it went free, discuss its features, and plenty more NFS insights. Let‘s start this engines!

Getting NFS Most Wanted 2012 for Free is Simple

Thanks to EA‘s Origin game client for PC, getting Most Wanted free is quick and easy:

  1. Download and install Origin if you don‘t already have it
  2. Create a free EA account when prompted
  3. Search for "Need for Speed Most Wanted" in the Origin store tab
  4. Click the blue "Add to Library" button on Most Wanted‘s game page
  5. Another click of "Download" will start the 20GB download

Once finished downloading, you can launch the game any time from your Origin library. No purchase needed!

The entire process takes just a few minutes. Just make sure you have enough HDD space free first.

Playable with Minimum Specs, Better with More Power

Most Wanted 2012 won‘t require a high-end gaming rig to enjoy, but more power ensures a smooth experience. Here are the min and recommended specs:

Minimum:

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • CPU: Quad-core
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD 5850
  • Storage: 20GB

Recommended:

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • CPU: Quad-core
  • RAM: 4GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 560 or AMD Radeon HD 6950 (1GB VRAM)
  • Storage: 20GB

The Frostbite 2 engine scales well, but shoot for at least a quad-core CPU and 4GB of RAM. More capable, modern multi-core processors, additional RAM, and a newer GPU with ample VRAM headroom ensures solid 60fps performance at max settings.

Most Wanted calls for 20GB of free hard drive space. I‘d recommend installing it on an SSD if you have one, as this improves loading times.

As long as your PC meets the minimum specs, you can enjoy Most Wanted in HD for zero cost!

Gameplay Overhaul from 2005 Original

While bearing the same Most Wanted name, the 2012 version features radically different gameplay than its 2005 namesake. Let‘s examine some key contrasts between them:

  • Customization – Deep visual mods and performance tuning for cars played a big role in 2005, but are absent in 2012. No more Autosculpt!

  • Car Types – The ‘05 version emphasized import tuner cars and JDM culture. 2012 shifts to exotics like Porsches, Bugattis, and Koenigseggs.

  • Progression – 2005 followed a linear Blacklist rankings ladder. 2012‘s open world lets you challenge any racer at any time.

  • Setting – The original used actual city streets. 2012 moved to the fictional city of Fairhaven with a more Hollywood action movie style.

  • Multiplayer – The 2005 version had basic online racing. 2012 integrated seamless multiplayer free roaming but servers have since shut down.

  • Pursuits – Police chases feel more cinematic and intense in 2012, though 2005 felt a bit more grounded and gritty.

  • Physics – 2012 moved to the Frostbite engine for fancier visual effects and crashes, while 2005 had more realistic, challenging driving physics.

So in summary, Most Wanted 2012 traded its predecessor‘s tuner customization and focus on illegal street racing culture for a glossier, more arcade-style open world packed with exotic supercars. A different flavor, but still fun!

Why Did EA Make Most Wanted 2012 Free?

Giving away Most Wanted 2012 for free on PC serves a few business goals for EA:

  • Promote NFS brand – Gets the series on more players‘ radars who may buy newer entries.

  • Upsell other titles – Encourages trying newer NFS games like Heat once invested in the free 2012 game.

  • Increase player engagement – More players stick around in Origin and may purchase DLC, subscriptions, other EA games.

  • Draw attention to NFS movies – Cross-promotion for the upcoming Need for Speed films releasing in 2023 and 2024.

  • Limited lost revenue – Most Wanted 2012 sales had already declined significantly by 2021, minimizing potential lost profits.

Prior to 2021, the Standard Edition of Most Wanted 2012 still sold for $19.99 on Origin. Given its age, going permanently free likely had minimal impact on current revenue while achieving the benefits above of increasing brand presence and visibility.

It‘s a smart move as the Need for Speed series approaches its 30th anniversary. Most Wanted 2012 serves as solid free gateway drug to hook new fans!

Key Features – Exotics, Pursuits, and Multiplayer

Let‘s take a deeper look at some of the core features defining the Need for Speed Most Wanted 2012 experience:

Diverse Roster of Exotic Cars

Rather than import tuners, Most Wanted 2012 spotlights drool-worthy exotics:

CarsExamples
HypercarsKoenigsegg Agera R, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, McLaren MP4-12C
SupercarsAudi R8 GT Spyder, Porsche 918 Spyder, Pagani Huayra, Mercedes SL65 AMG Black Series
Sports CarsLotus Exige S, Lexus LFA, Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition, Marussia B2
Everyday CarsFord Focus RS500, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Ranging from everyday tuners to million-dollar hypercars, these rides let you live out your wildest supercar fantasies. I‘ll take a Koenigsegg with a side of Pagani, please!

High Stakes Police Pursuits

Evading the cops is a major highlight in Most Wanted 2012. Ramp up your Heat level by speeding, wrecking property, and taking down patrol cars to trigger more aggressive, high-stakes pursuits including:

  • Roadblocks with spike strips
  • Rhino SUVs trying to ram you
  • Helicopters and aerial surveillance
  • Ability to take out entire squads if you can survive!

The dynamic pursuit system keeps police chases intense and cinematic. Fairhaven‘s finest don‘t mess around!

Seamless Multiplayer (When Servers Were Active)

Most Wanted 2012 featured seamless multiplayer integration years before it became commonplace. Players could instantly join friends‘ sessions and compete against their times asynchronously via Autolog recommendations.

While multiplayer added longevity when servers were live, the game remains quite enjoyable as a single-player open world racer since their shutdown. But it was nice having that connected online community when it lasted!

Fairhaven Open World Design

Most Wanted 2012 takes place in the fictional city of Fairhaven – a visually striking backdrop blending coastal, urban, industrial, and rural environments connected seamlessly without loads.

Key zones include:

  • Downtown – Gleaming skyscrapers and corporate HQs.
  • Port Murphy – Bustling industrial shipping district.
  • Sylvania Hills – Affluent homes and luxury car dealers.
  • Greenfield – Vibrant metropolitan districts.
  • Fairhaven Fields – Peaceful farmlands and countryside.
  • Mountain States – Forested tree-lined mountain roads.

Fairhaven may not be real, but it feels alive thanks to details like ambient traffic, dynamic weather, and vivid scenery. Zooming between these diverse locales highlights the city‘s scale and personality.

There are also tons of discoverable spots and challenges around the map rewarding exploration. But watch out for the cops!

Development and Post-Release Support

Most Wanted 2012 marked a major evolutionary leap for the Need for Speed franchise courtesy of developer Criterion Games. Let‘s look at some development and post-launch facts:

  • Built using the Frostbite 2 engine, allowing impressive visual feats for the time with effects like real-time lighting and destruction.

  • Emphasis on making exotic cars accessible immediately with no grinding, unlike previous games.

  • Streamlined, social Autolog integration helped pioneer always-online console experiences.

  • Received multiple free DLC packs post-release adding cars, events, and customization items.

  • Scored strong reviews upon launch, but some critiqued the lack of customization compared to earlier Most Wanted games.

  • Server shutdown in 2019 ended multiplayer and Autolog functionality.

While refocusing the series away from tuning, Most Wanted 2012 proved Criterion could make NFS its own. It still holds up visually and plays great in 2022!

Meet Mia – Your Live-Action Guide

The live-action cutscenes star model Josie Maran as Mia Townsend – a key character who provides context to the racing action:

  • Tips you off to new events and available cars.
  • Offers encouragement and feedback on your progression.
  • Helps humanize the experience between events.

Mia represents the human element grounding the over-the-top racing fun in a sense of reality. Her acting performance strikes a fun balance of edgy and earnest.

Most Wanted 2012 – A Gateway to Need for Speed

It‘s incredible that such a robust and polished AAA racing game is now available at no cost. Most Wanted 2012 represents an excellent entry point into Need for Speed whether you‘re a newcomer or returning fan.

The varied exotic car roster, heart-pounding cop chases, slick presentation values, and dense open world offer dozens of hours of engaging motoring action – all for free!

Just be sure your PC meets the minimum specs for a smooth experience. And watch out for those rhino SUVs – they hit hard!

So fire up Origin and add Need for Speed Most Wanted to your library. You‘ve got nothing to lose except control of your dream supercar as you tangle with Fairhaven‘s finest. Enjoy the ride!

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Michael

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