For a couple of seconds it threatened to be a classic E3 fail. Having spent the previous few minutes pounding a Porsche around at insane speeds, taking out cops and making sweet jumps in 60fps, Criterion's creative director Craig Sullivan found himself trapped against a wall by the law, with his 'busted' meter ticking towards disaster.
A dab of reverse and a dollop of gas and he managed to squeak out to safety. Dignity saved, the crowd cheered him on as he hit the final ramp at light speed. The word is phew. Or at least the polite one is. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick chat with Sullivan.
He was clearly relieved to have escaped a potentially embarrassing brush with the law. But for our money it's far better to have an on-stage demo that's *actually* live, and therefore risky and representative of what playing is like, rather than a lot of the pre-recorded smoke and mirrors that gets passed off as live.
Criterion has always been covetous of the NFS brand, and now clearly feels protective of it. Given that Most Wanted marks Criterion's first return to open world driving since the mighty Burnout: Paradise, we asked if that meant the studio would only be focused on NFS, meaning no more Burnout.
"It's more a case of wanting to get Need For Speed back on its feet after last year," he told us, referring to the poorly-received Need For Speed: The Run.
In the more immediate future, Criterion's aim is to walk away form E3 with as many driving game of the show gongs. The obvious competition of course being Forza. Unless of course either Nintendo or Sony spring a surprise.