Need for Speed: Most Wanted on the PlayStation Vita is a direct port of the PS3 game, developer Criterion has announced. Normally that would sound like a derogatory statement – but in this instance, it’s an incredibly impressive feat.

“Everything from the ‘TV game’ is here on the small screen,” Criterion’s Alex Ward told IGN. “This is a very technically ambitious thing to do - there aren’t any open-world games on Vita so far. To keep the world the same, to not make any compromises – that’s what we’ve done.”

To clarify, every single street, back alley and short-cut has been replicated on the handheld’s five-inch screen. All of the cars, meet-ups and drive-through garages – they’re all there. And, most importantly, they haven’t been stripped down in any way. This is the kind of promise Sony made when it first announced the system last year.

The game plays identically, too. “On handheld the physics are very hard to get right because you’re very limited on memory but the handling is pretty much the same,” Ward continued. “We can do the same demo on Vita that we can on PS3.”

Even the damage model from the home console version is present. If you get scuffed and scraped in a race, your car will wear the bruises.

Unsurprisingly, multiplayer will be fully supported, too. However, there's one caveat – cross play is out. Criterion may have worked wonders on the Vita version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, but the idea of PS3 owners playing against Vita users proved a bridge too far for the developer. The game will still include Autolog, though, allowing you to compete against your friends’ high-scores and times.

The game will also make intelligent use of the Vita’s touch-screen, allowing you to operate menus much more intuitively. There’ll be no gimmicks, though.

Ward attributed the game’s level of quality to the fact that Criterion decided to develop the title in-house. “It would’ve been really easy to do Vita out of house,” he said. “We did that on some of our previous games. But when I saw the specs for the Vita, I knew we had to do it.”

If the results are this good, it makes us wonder why publishers ever opt to go out of house in the first place. The costs can’t be that much cheaper, can they?

[via uk.ign.com]