After months of anticipation, we're happy to report that Burnout Paradise II…er, I mean Need For Speed: Most Wanted has finally hit stores. It does have a number of comparisons to the 2008 racing classic, including the ability to run all over the city of Fairhaven to answer a number of challenges while picking up a variety of cars. There's very few limitations to what you can do on the open road.

We know some of you don't fully realize just what kind of potential this game holds, as you may not have played Burnout Paradise or just lost interest in Need For Speed following last year's The Run. So we've invested a few hours of "research" (i.e. plowing our buddies into the corner and taking first place victories) to come up with some opening tips for when you first dive into Criterion Games' driving world.

So heed our advice well and we'll see you on the open road. (We're the ones outrunning the police at a rapid pace…)

Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive

In Most Wanted, it helps to be a bit aggressive. Criterion did a wonderful job balancing the AI so that it's competitive during events but not to the point where they'll continuously dominate and rob you of a first place victory. You'll have to find openings necessary to jet ahead, either using a turbo boost filled up after drifts and driving in oncoming traffic or from someone's unfortunate crash on the road.

It helps to show some aggression: like Burnout Paradise (and the other Burnout games before it, starting with Takedown on PS2 and Xbox) you're rewarded for crashing other drivers. Plowing them into girders, walls and other objects actually nets you some helpful boost power, which lets you keep your lead when you're running neck-and-neck against someone else. What's more, rubbing someone from behind with boost gives you the vital speed needed to throw them off. (This is also quite useful in multiplayer. Beware that what goes around comes around – those crashed racers will be looking for you.)

Busting Through Speed Traps

The game also encourages you to show your competitive side against the police. You wouldn't (or shouldn't) do these things in real life, but in Fairhaven the goal of the game is to be king of the road, even towering over the local police force. Ramming cops into walls and breaking through road blocks is just part of the fun. You don't want to be too straightforward in your assault on road blocks, because sometimes you'll have to contend with spike strips. Hit one too hard and you'll lose speed as your tires grind down. You won't stop completely, but you will lose the advantage against competitors.

So when you approach road blocks or encounters with police, try to avoid the sudden stops or anything that looks like it would do damage. Watch out for those helpful openings on the sides or with the small space between cars where spikes aren't set up and bust your way through. If you do manage to get your tires snared, drive through a repair shop and continue on your way, though it's better to try and keep them in one piece to begin with.

As for the sudden stop rule, if you linger too long the cops will bust you. If the cops are on your tail or you're thrown off your route, consider using your handbrake and spinning around in the opposite direction to throw them off. There are also a number of shortcuts in Most Wanted, most coming from jump ramps. Stick with these and sometimes you can shake off a cop in oncoming traffic. Other times, you'll just need to be speedy.

Boost To Burn

The boost system in Most Wanted is very similar to Burnout Paradise – you'll earn some driving on the wrong side of the road, drifting, etc. Don't be afraid to stunt around, jumping through billboards and wrecking cars (which earns you the most boost, as mentioned above). Take precautions with traffic - hit an oncoming vehicle and you'll come to a screeching halt while losing any boost you might have built up. Be aware of the road while also being savvy.

Play Around, Have Fun

With Need For Speed: Most Wanted you can easily follow the race events through EasyDrive and work your way up the list of top ten drivers, but you won't always want to stay on the straight-and-narrow. Seek out speed challenges. Run past as many camera trackers as you can and compare your times with fellow racers. Find buddies and engage in heated battles around the turns and through the city. Most importantly, track down cars.

Cars are a huge commodity in Fairhaven, and sticking with your default rides is the last thing you should do. You can pull up to a number of sweet rides scattered throughout and immediately jump into them, trying out new paint colors and modifications to make them even better. What's more, you can also win the Most Wanted cars once you track them down adding some peak performance to your garage. Don't be afraid to hunt down the best cars and most importantly, don't be afraid to try some of the tougher challenges. The rewards you'll reap between cars, parts and experience points are truly worthwhile.

Now Hit the Road

Need For Speed: Most Wanted is an excellent game to experience both on your own and cruising against your friends through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Just like Burnout Paradise, it's bound to build a fan base in no time flat. You know what that means – more drivers to beat down. Yeah!

Need For Speed: Most Wanted is available now for Xbox 360, PS Vita and PlayStation 3, and coming early next year to the Wii U.