Need for Speed History

Need for Speed History

Need for Speed, also known by its initials NFS, is an action racing video game franchise created by Electronic Arts and currently developed by Ghost Games. The series centers around illicit street racing and in general tasks players to complete various types of races while evading the local law enforcement in police pursuits. The series released its first title, The Need for Speed in 1994. The title comes from a famous quote from the 1986 film Top Gun. Since Need for Speed: High Stakes, the series has also integrated car body customization into gameplay.

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The series itself has been overseen and had games developed by multiple notable teams over the years including EA Black Box and Criterion Games, the creators of the Burnout franchise. In August 2013 however, following the downsizing of Criterion Games, it was announced that Swedish developer Ghost Games would gain full control of the Need for Speed racing franchise and oversee all future development of the main series. At the time, 80% of Ghost Games‘ work force consisted of former Criterion Games employees.

Below you will find a list of all the main installments of the Need for Speed franchise with gameplays.

The Need for Speed (1994)

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The original Need for Speed was released for 3DO in 1994 with versions released for the PC (DOS) (1995), PlayStation and Saturn (1996) following shortly afterwards. The Need for Speed and its Special Edition were the only games in the series to support DOS, with subsequent releases for the PC run only within Windows. The first installment of The Need for Speed was the only serious attempt by the series to provide a realistic simulation of car handling elements through the direct collaboration of Staff members from Road & Track. Electronic Arts left the handling dynamics tuning with the automotive magazine’s seasoned drivers to match vehicle behavior including realistic over and understeer that remains impressive decades later, as well as sounds made by the vehicles’ gear control levers and other functions.

Need for Speed II (1997)

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Need for Speed II (NFS II) featured some rare and exotic vehicles, including the Ford Indigo concept vehicle, and featured country-themed tracks from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The PlayStation port of NFS II was the first PlayStation game to take advantage of the NeGcon controller, and the Dual Analog and DualShock controllers as well. A new racing mode was also introduced, dubbed “Knockout”, where the last racers to finish laps will be eliminated. In addition, track design was more open-ended; players could now “drive” off the asphalt, and cut across fields to take advantage of shortcuts. Need for Speed II: Special Edition includes one extra track, extra cars, and support for Glide.

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998)

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Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit added Hot Pursuit mode, where the player either attempted to outrun the police or be the cop, arresting speeders.

NFS III took advantage of the multimedia capabilities by featuring audio commentary, picture slideshows and music videos. This game was the first in the series to allow the downloading of additional cars from the official website. As a result, modding communities sprang up to create vehicles. The PC version was also the first game in the series to support Direct 3D hardware.

Need for Speed: Hight Stakes/Road Challenge (1999)

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High Stakes (North American and Australian title), also known as Road Challenge (European and Brazilian title), Conduite en état de liberté (French title) and Brennender Asphalt (German title), was released in the summer of 1999. High Stakes introduced several new types of gameplay: High Stakes, Getaway, Time Trap, and Career. High Stakes was a racing mode; Getaway required the player to outrun numerous pursuing police vehicles; Time Trap was a time lap trial; and Career was a tournament mode which incorporated a monetary reward system. Another innovation was the introduction of damage models, where after a race the player is given the option to purchase repairs. The mode also allows players, for the first time, to upgrade cars.

Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed/Porsche 2000 (2000)

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Porsche Unleashed (North America and Latin America title), Porsche 2000 (European title) or simply Porsche (in Germany) is different from the previous versions, because it featured only Porsches. The vehicle handling in the PC version was said to be the most realistic in any NFS game, but like the PS1 version had very simplified arcade handling that fell woefully short of the Hallmark handling offered in the first game. The player had to win races to unlock cars in chronological order from 1950 to 2000. Porsche Unleashed also featured a Factory Driver mode, where the player had to test Porsches to move forward in the game, and did not feature a split screen mode.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (2002)

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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 was the debut NFS title from EA Black Box, and the first NFS for the sixth generation consoles. Different versions of the game were produced for each game platform; the Xbox, GameCube and PC versions were developed in EA Seattle, while the PS2 version was developed by Black Box Games in Vancouver.

Hot Pursuit 2 draws primarily from the gameplay and style of NFS III; its emphasis on evading the police and over-the-top tracks. Although the game allowed players to play as the police, the pursuit mode was less realistic than preceding versions of NFS; players merely needed to “tap” a speeder to arrest them, as opposed to using simulated police tactics to immobilize a speeding vehicle.

Need for Speed: Underground (2003)

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Need for Speed: Underground was developed by EA Black Box and released on November 17, 2003. This was the first NFS game to require Hardware Transform and Lighting in Graphics Cards. Most of the new elements in Underground became defining marks of later installments in the Need for Speed series. Underground shifted from semi-professional racing and isolated circuits to the street racing style of other arcade racing series: all circuits became part of a single map, Olympic City, except for drifts. Underground introduced two new play modes (Drag and Drift) and more tuning options than in the earlier High Stakes. Underground was also the first game in the series to feature a story, told via pre-rendered videos. Underground features tuner cars and has a wide variety of tuning options such as widebody kits, bumpers, spoilers, etc., as well as performance upgrades such as engines and nitrous. City street racing is the primary focus of the game.

Need for Speed: Underground 2 (2004)

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Need for Speed: Underground 2, was developed by EA Black Box and released on November 15, 2004. In Underground 2, the story mode continued, but there were new racing modes such as Underground Racing League and Street X, more tuning options, and a new method of selecting races. Also included was an “outrun” mode where a player can challenge random opponents on the road (similar to Tokyo Xtreme Racer). Underground 2 also introduced several SUVs, used to race against other SUVs. The customization features were significantly expanded on modifications which did not affect vehicle performance. Players were required to customize their car to a certain numerical value in order to be offered DVD and magazine covers, the only way to advance to higher game levels. The game featured more extensive product placement for companies with no connection to auto racing. This game also had extensive customization options in the form of suspension upgrades, nitrous systems and engine mods.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted was developed by EA Black Box, released on November 16, 2005, and was one of the first games released for the Xbox 360. It was released on the Nintendo GameCube, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows and Nintendo DS. The PlayStation Portable port of Most Wanted is called Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0. Police chases represent a significant body of the gameplay, and include the free-roaming aspect of Underground 2, but with less extensive vehicle customization features. The story mode is a different style from Underground, with CGI effects mixed with live action. The game featured the Blacklist, a crew consisting of 15 racers that the player must beat one-by-one to unlock parts, cars, tracks, and to complete career mode. The player had to meet certain requirements before they could take on the next Blacklist rival, such as races completed, milestones achieved, bounty earned, etc.

Need for Speed: Carbon (2006)

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Need for Speed: Carbon was developed by EA Black Box and released on October 31, 2006. It was the first NFS game for the PlayStation 3 and the Wii and the last NFS game for the Nintendo GameCube, the Game Boy Advance, and the Xbox. Carbon’s handheld port is known as Need for Speed: Carbon – Own the City. The Wii port lacked online, but made full use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. NFS: Carbon continued the story from Most Wanted, however, the game has far less emphasis on the police. Carbon saw the return of nighttime-only racing, with a selection of cars similar to that of Most Wanted. Carbon introduced a new feature wherein the player is allowed to form a “crew” that aids the player in races. Drift events returned to the series in Carbon. Drag racing was removed from the series, but a new type of race called “Canyon Duel” was added, where the closer the player is to the leader, the more points they accrue. If the player overtakes the leader and remains in front for 10 seconds, they win automatically. Another new feature is “Autosculpt”, which allows players to custom-fabricate their own auto parts.

Need for Speed: ProStreet (2007)

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Need for Speed: ProStreet, developed by EA Black Box, was released in 2007. Key features of the game included realistic damage, a return to realistic racing, modeling, and burnouts. The game lacked the free roam mode found in earlier releases, instead, all of the races were on closed race tracks that took place on organized race days. The game consisted of drag races, speed challenges, grip races (circuit racing), and drift races.

Need for Speed: Undercover (2008)

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Need for Speed: Undercover, developed by EA Black Box, was released on November 18, 2008. The game had a significantly longer development cycle than previous games, taking 16 months to develop. EA Games president Frank Gibeau stated that since sales of ProStreet didn’t live up to EA’s projections, the franchise would go back to its “roots”. The game received lower scores on aggregate than Pro Street. The game focused on tuning and police chases, featured over 50 cars, and took place in a fictional city. The player’s role was as an undercover cop, trying to stop the racers. Containing live-action cutscenes which feature the actress Maggie Q, the game also featured a damage system where parts could break off after a crash. EA ported Undercover to various mobile devices. It was the last Need for Speed game for PlayStation 2.

Need for Speed: Shift (2009)

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Need for Speed: Shift, developed by Slightly Mad Studios, was released on September 15, 2009. It features over 60 cars and 19 tracks, some of which are actual licensed tracks while others are fictional. Improved driving simulation was accompanied by an adaptive difficulty, while it reintroduced a cockpit view. NFS: Shift focused on racing simulation rather than the arcade racing of previous titles. NFS: Shift received better reviews than the prior 3 games in the series. The Special Edition contained a special tuned BMW M3 GT2, and an Elite Series track. Two items of downloadable content were released for the game.

Need for Speed: Nitro (2009)

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Need for Speed: Nitro is the first NFS game made exclusively for Nintendo DS and Wii, featuring arcade-style gameplay and targeting a casual audience. Nitro was released on November 3, 2009 in North America and in Europe on November 6, 2009. Need for Speed: Nitro was also available as a social multiplayer game on Facebook. Need for Speed: Nitro-X (2010) was a newer installment for use with the DSi/XL and the 3DS system. Essentially the original release, it was updated with several updates: 18 licensed vehicles; new police units; custom tags; 16 updated tracks; a revised career mode; local multiplayer matches for up to 4 players; and new rewards and unlockables. The game was released as a digital download only, released on November 15, 2010 in North America and November 26, 2010 in Europe.

Need for Speed: World (2010)

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Need for Speed: World was a free-to-play MMO racing game exclusively for Windows-based PCs. It took on the gameplay style of Most Wanted and Carbon, focusing on illegal street racing, tuning and police chases, and adding classic MMO elements to the mix. World even incorporated almost exact replicas of the cities of Rockport and Palmont, the cities of Most Wanted and Carbon respectively, into its map design. World was originally scheduled for an Asian release in the summer of 2009, however the game was not released at that time and it was released worldwide on July 27, 2010. In October 2009, the game was in public beta-testing limited to residents of Taiwan. The final checkered flag for NFSW: On April 15, 2015 it was announced that Need for Speed World would be closing its servers on July 14, 2015. They soon after removed the ability to create new accounts for the game and began winding down their support for it. Since the announcement, there have been several “end of the world” promotions and in game events but many of the players have since moved on.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)

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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was developed by British games developer Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts on November 16, 2010. It focuses on racing and police chases rather than car customization. The game won many awards at the E3 2010, including “Best Racing Game”, becoming the first game in the NFS series since the original Hot Pursuit to win an E3 award. There were over 60 cars, most available to both racers and cops, but a few were exclusive to either side. Unlike previous NFS titles, there was no customization, and the game takes place in a fictional rural area called Seacrest County, which the “free roam” feature lets you explore. Hot Pursuit allows play as either police or racer. The game also features many weapons, with some exclusive to the cops or racers. The biggest feature introduced in was the Need for Speed Autolog, which tracked player progressions and recommended events to play. In addition to its statistical system, Autolog also features Facebook-like speedwalls where players can post their comments and photos while in the game. Hot Pursuit has received some of the best reviews of the series.

Shift 2: Unleashed (2011)

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The sequel to Need for Speed: Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed was developed by Slightly Mad Studios, and released on March 29, 2011. Shift 2 includes the Autolog feature introduced in Hot Pursuit. It also includes features such as night racing, an in-helmet camera, and a more in-depth career mode. Shift 2 features more than 140 vehicles available for racing and tuning, a smaller number compared with other racing games such as Forza Motorsport 3 and Gran Turismo 5. There are also 40 real-world locations including Bathurst, Spa-Francorchamps and Suzuka as well as fictional circuits.

Need for Speed: The Run (2011)

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Need for Speed: The Run was developed by EA Black Box, and released on November 15, 2011. The game continued the street-racing gameplay of Black Box’s previous titles, with a story based on a race across the United States from San Francisco to New York. The game featured quick time events with the player, for the first time in NFS history, exiting their car and traveling on foot. The Run was powered by DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine, making the game the first non-shooter and one of the first console titles to use the engine. Additionally, the NFS Autolog was also used in the game. The Run employs a large range of real-world vehicles, which can be altered with performance upgrades and visual upgrades. An XP (Experience points) system is used for unlocking cars and events. The Limited Edition features three exclusive cars and five exclusive challenges with bonus rewards and achievements.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

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Need for Speed: Most Wanted was developed by British games developer Criterion Games, and released on October 30, 2012. The game picked up on the Most Wanted IP, as opposed to the Hot Pursuit extension. This was the first game made subsequent to Criterion Games taking over the NFS series from Black Box. It features open world racing, and most of the cars in the game are available from the start, hidden in different locations. It also features a blacklist of 10 instead of 15, and there is no story for the game. It is powered by Autolog 2.0. Performance upgrades are available for all the cars in the game, such as chassis, tires, nitrous, and bodywork. Milestones and achievements are unlocked through a variety of ways, e.g. completion of races and breaking through billboards.

Need for Speed Rivals (2013)

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Need for Speed: Rivals was developed by Ghost Games (formerly EA Gothenburg) in association with Criterion Games, and was released on November 15, 2013 for the PlayStation 4, on November 19, 2013 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and on November 22, 2013 for the Xbox One. It runs on DICE’s Frostbite 3 Engine. It has the same basic concept as Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, but with new features like the AllDrive system, and several pursuit techs.

Need for Speed: No Limits (2015)

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Need for Speed: No Limits was released in 2015 for iOS and Android, and a mobile installment in the Need for Speed video game series, developed by Firemonkeys Studios and published by Electronic Arts. It is the franchise’s first original title made exclusively for mobile devices, unlike past mobile games in the series that were simply adaptations of various Need for Speed games.

Need for Speed (2015)

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On May 21, 2015, EA and Ghost Games revealed Need for Speed, a full reboot of the franchise. The game was released on November 3, 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a release for Microsoft Windows (via Origin) in 2016. More information on the game was revealed during the EA press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015 on June 15, 2015. A new trailer was released and a short gameplay demo was shown. Beta released on PS4 and Xbox One. PC version was released on 15 March 2016 via origin in two different editions. The Standard Edition is the base edition, whereas the Deluxe Edition has the styling pack, performance pack, tricked-out starter car, exclusive wraps, unique identifying stickers, VIP icons and lifetime discount on all items using the in-game currency.

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