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Need For Speed: World hands-on

Hey, we lovedNeed For Speed: SHIFT. Not only was itneck and neck with Forza 3 for the best racing game of last year, we’re of the opinion that SHIFT was the best NFS game in over a decade. Knowing that, we weren’t crazy about the ideaof Need For Speed: Worldmaking a return to the open world challenges of Carbon and Most Wanted… that is, until they told us it was FREE!*

Above: Welcome to the MMO lobby you can play

That’s right, this summer’s NFS game is free* for any and all. And okay, we’re willing to admit we did sorta miss zipping around those wide-open cities likeRockport and Palmont, so it doesn’t feel like much of a step backwards, especially once you consider that they’re now basically giant lobbies where swarms of players will meet up to race in events, gain ranks, and customize cars. (Or just dick around and pester cops!)

Above: Police cruisers are back and Pursuit Challenges are back!

If you missed the arcadey thrill of barreling through an urban landscape of cops and licensed cars, NFS World has a target painted on your very soul. We’re told there’ll be both steering wheel and 360 controller support, but we played with a simple WASD control scheme and we gotta say: It was pretty awesome.

Above: Build 'em and share 'em

The Blur beta may’ve familiarized you with slingin’ multiple power-ups (Boost or add an extra lap to catch up,) but using a mouse to hit boosts and what-not beats the hell out of clumsily cycling through with a shoulder button.