Need for Speed: Most Wanted Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the common problems experienced by Need for Speed: Most Wanted players. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below if you're having a problem with the game.
Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is in the Readme.txt file in your \Program Files\EA GAMES\Need for Speed Most Wanted\Support\en-us directory. Importantly, check out the minimum system requirements in that file, as well as the supported hardware list, since if any of your hardware is not supported or doesn't meet the requirements then you will experience problems with the game, or quite simply may not be able to run it. Read through the list of compatibility issues and suggested fixes as well. If you want to see further official tech support from EA Games, go to the Official EA Games Tech Support Site and the EA Games NFSMW Forums.
For unofficial support, visit the forums at fan sites such as NFSUnlimited, NFSCars and ND4SPDWorld to name a few. You can also drop into our own TweakGuides Forums to have a chat about the guide and the game. Remember however to do some basic research and run through this guide (and associated guides) before jumping on a forum and asking a question - most forum users tend to ignore (or unfortunately abuse) people who post "Help me please!!1!1" type posts which show no prior research or troubleshooting effort.
The Latest Graphic Drivers: The game's developers always recommend the latest graphics drivers for optimal performance. In this case make absolutely certain you have updated to the latest graphics card drivers. This means the ATI Catalyst 5.11 or newer; or the Nvidia Forceware 81.95 or newer. See page 4 of my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details on where to download these drivers and how to install them cleanly.
DirectX Error when Installing: When installing the game if you get an error that DirectX9.0c is not installed, even if you've installed DX9.0c already, then find the game's Autorun.exe file (in the base directory of the game CD), right-click on it, select Properties, go to the Compatibility tab, tick the 'Run this program in compatibility mode for' and select 'Windows 2000'. Then double-click on Autorun.exe to begin installation. Make sure to turn off compatibility mode after installing the game.
Windows Vista Users: If you're having problems running this game under Windows Vista, first make sure that you're using the latest Vista graphics and audio drivers for your hardware, and the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details). Next, make sure you don't change your UAC settings after the game has been installed, as due to Virtualization this can change the location of the game files and settings. If you can't launch the game successfully when UAC is enabled, you will need to run the game with full Admin privileges. To do this either right-click on the launch icon and select 'Run as Administrator', or right-click on the launch icon, select Properties and under the Compatibility tab tick 'Run this program as an administrator' then click OK. I strongly recommend that you refer to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows Vista for more information - in particular check the 'Gaming in Vista' section of the Graphics & Interface chapter; the UAC section of the PC Security chapter; and the 'Personal Folders' and 'Directory Junctions & Symbolic Links' sections of the Windows Explorer chapter. These will tell you how you can fix game-related issues and also explain the relevant differences of Vista.
In-Game Lag/Freezes/Stuttering/Jerkiness: To reduce any stuttering or loading pauses in NFS:MW, make sure you have adjusted your in-game settings such that your FPS as measured by FRAPS (See In-Game Settings section) is consistently above ~25-30FPS. More importantly, make sure you reduce things like Antialiasing and/or Texture Filtering, as well as World Detail and Shadow Detail if necessary. Keep in mind that systems with 512MB of RAM or less will experience a lot more stuttering than those with more system RAM. For systems running Dual-Core CPUs and/or Pentium 4 CPUs with HyperThreading see the Conclusion section of this guide for a specific fix to jerkiness issues. If you're really desparate to fix up the stuttering, see the Audio section of the In-Game Settings section. And of course, make absolutely sure that you have run the Windows Defragmenter after installing the game, since if its files are fragmented this can greatly increase your stuttering and in-game loading pauses.
Other Need for Speed Games: Since the main executable file in NFS:MW is called speed.exe which is the same as the executable name for NFS:U and NFS:U2, you may find that setting up performance profiles can be a problem, or indeed you may find other difficulties installing and playing NFSMW. I strongly recommend that if possible you uninstall any other NFS games from your system before installing NFSMW. This will help ensure minimum problems with the game.
Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering: To make sure the Full-Screen Anti-Aliasing and Texture Filtering settings work properly in NFS:MW it is recommended that you first go to your graphics card's control panel, and for Nvidia cards under the Performance & Quality Settings in the Global Driver Settings section select 'Application Controlled' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. For ATI cards go to the 3D section of the Control Panel/Control Center and select 'Application Preference' for both Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. If you are unfamiliar with what Antialiasing or Anisotropic Filtering do, see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. Now you can adjust these in the game without any conflicts. Keep in mind that any Antialiasing and/or Texture Filtering can significantly degrade performance on older/slower graphics cards.
Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using the following excellent (and free) tools: AVG Virus Cleaner for viruses, A-Squared for trojans, and Ad-Aware SE for spyware/adware. Viruses, trojans and spyware can cause unexplained behavior, general file corruption and system slowdown, and can also steal your CD Key. It's best to make sure your system isn't infected before moving on to any other optimization measures. However make sure to disable any background scanning programs once you're done (See below).
Background Programs: The game's developers specifically recommend that you disable all background applications - especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities. These applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing even more in-game freezes and stuttering. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is an important step you should not miss.
Overclocking: If you are experiencing graphical glitches or crashing in the game, set everything in your system back to its default speeds and see if this impacts on the problem. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed, or they're reduced in severity, then your overclock is the primary culprit. Either permanently reduce your overclock and/or increase cooling to regain stability. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that this game will do the same.
These are some of the more common problems for NFS:MW. If you are experiencing problems with the game, it is most likely due to some aspect of your system not being optimized or correctly set up rather than a game bug. Make sure to follow the instructions above, as well as taking the time to go through my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion to stabilize and optimize your system as much as possible.
Read the remainder of this guide to gain a better understanding of the specific NFS:MW settings which can help improve your performance and resolve any problems.