Need for Speed (NFS) is a series of racing video games published by Electronic Arts (EA) and developed by several studios including Canadian company EA Black Box and British company Criterion Games.
The series released its first title, The Need for Speed in 1994. Initially, Need for Speed was exclusive to the fifth generation video game consoles, eventually featuring in all seventh generation consoles by 2008. The titles consist of racing with different cars on various tracks, with some titles including police pursuits in races. Since Need for Speed: Underground, the series has integrated car body customization into gameplay.
Need for Speed is the most successful racing video game series in the world, and one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. As of October 2009, over 140 million copies of games in the Need for Speed series have been sold.
In June 2012, It was announced that Criterion Games are in full control of the Need for Speed franchise, following Black Box's restructuring.
The Need for Speed (NFS) series are racing games, all of which employ the same fundamental rules and have similar mechanics. In each game, the player controls a race car in a variety of races, the goal being to win the race. In the tournament/career mode, the player must win a series of races in order to unlock vehicles, tracks and some of the fastest cars possibly made by mankind, etc. Before playing each race, the player chooses a vehicle to race in and has the option of choosing the transmission of the vehicle, which includes automatic and manual transmission. All games in the series have some form of multiplayer mode allowing players to race one another via split screen, LAN or the Internet.
Although the games share the same name, the tone and focus of the games have varied significantly, in one form or another. For example, in some games the cars can suffer mechanical and visual damage, while in other games the cars cannot be damaged at all, some games have physics i.e. the way the software simulates a real car behavior—that are reminiscent of a real car, while other games have forgiving physics (e.g. going through some curves at the fastest speed).
With the release of Need for Speed: Underground, the series shifted focus from the racing of exotic sports cars on scenic point-to-point tracks, evocative of open road racing to import/tuner subculture, and street racing in an urban setting. To-date, this theme has remained prevalent in most of the following games.
Need for Speed: Shift and especially its sequel took a simulator approach to racing. These games primarily feature closed-circuit racing on real tracks like the Nürburgring and the Laguna Seca, and fictional street circuits in cities like London and Chicago. In addition, the drag and drift modes from the street-racing games are kept and presented as professional sports (such as Formula Drift). There is a strong focus on the FIA GT1 World Championship and the FIA GT3 European Championship. The car lists include a combination of exotics, sports cars, and tuners in addition to special race cars. With Shift 2: Unleashed, EA has decided to split this off into a separate racing series, though it is not known whether further sequels will be produced.
Most of the games in the franchise include police pursuits in some form or other. In the first game, the player races against the X-Men, the objective is to beat him without getting arrested. In some of the games featuring police pursuit, the player can play as either the felon or the cop; as a felon, the player must elude the police, or if playing as the cop, must pursue and capture the felon. Introduced in Need for Speed: Underground were the concepts of drifting and dragging, which are used in drift and drag racing, respectively. These new mechanics are included in the tournament/career mode aside from the regular street races. In drift races, the player must defeat other racers by setting higher points than the other racers; these points are earned by the length and timing of the drift made by the player's vehicle. In drag races, the player uses a car set in manual transmission. The objective in this type of race is to follow an opposing car and mimic its performance to gain a boost in the player's speed. Like an ordinary drag race, the player must finish first to win the race, though if the player crashes into an obstacle, the race ends.
The concept of car tuning evolved with each new game. In the earlier games in the series, it focused mainly on the mechanics of the car rather than the looks of it. Every game has some form of car tuning that can be set by toggling options on and off (i.e. ABS, or traction control), adjusting options (i.e. front downforce, rear downforce, brake bias, gear ratios) or upgrading parts (i.e. engine, gearbox). From Underground to the current game, customization of vehicles is similar to the vehicles depicted in the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious. The two categories in which the player can choose to modify his cars are visual and performance. Visual tuning of the player's car becomes an important aspect in tournament/career mode after the release of Need for Speed: Underground 2. The player's car appearance is rated using a scale from zero to ten points; the more visual points it has, the more likely it is to be featured in fictional automobile magazines. When a car attains a high enough visual rating, the player is told that their vehicle is eligible to be on the cover of a magazine; thereafter, the player must drive to a specific location to take the photo of the vehicle.
Like all racing games, the Need for Speed series features an extensive list of cars that are available for the player to use. The vehicles included in the game are modeled and named after actual cars in real life. Cars in the franchise are divided into four categories, exotic cars, muscle cars, tuners, and special vehicles. Exotic cars feature high performance, expensive European cars like the Lamborghini Murciélago and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren with some American models like Chevrolet Corvette and Ford GT; muscle cars refer to mostly American cars such as the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro; while tuner cars are mostly Japanese-imported cars like the Nissan Skyline and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The special vehicles are civilian and police cars that are available for use in some games, either directly or through hacking, such as the Ford Crown Victoria in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010 video game) and garbage trucks, fire engines and taxis in Need for Speed: Carbon.
Originally the series took place in international settings, such as race tracks in Australia, Europe, and Africa among other settings. Beginning with Underground, the series has taken place in fictional metropolitan cities. The first game featured traffic on "head to head" game mode and on later games traffic can be toggled on and off at the options screen. Starting with Underground, traffic is a fixed obstacle added during a race. The 2010 remake of Hot Pursuit was the first to include real-life cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Porsche Cayenne as traffic cars, instead of fictional models in previous games.
The Need for Speed series was originally developed by Distinctive Software, a video game studio based in Vancouver, Canada. Prior to Electronic Arts' purchase of the company in 1991, it had already created popular racing games such as Stunts and Test Drive II: The Duel. After the purchase was made, the company was renamed Electronic Arts (EA) Canada. The company capitalized on its experience in the domain when it began developing the Need for Speed series in late 1992. EA Canada continued to develop and expand the Need for Speed franchise up to 2002, when another Vancouver-based gaming company, named Black Box Games, was contracted to continue the series with the title Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Black Box Games was acquired by Electronic Arts shortly before the game's publication and the company was renamed Electronic Arts (EA) Black Box and became a subsidiary of EA Canada. Since its renaming, EA Black Box has been the series primary developer and was on a yearly cycle from 2002-2008. EA contacted UK-based gaming company Slightly Mad Studios after the franchise began to decline in both sales and quality, and to create a bi-annual cycles with alternate between several studios. In 2009, Slightly Mad Studios released Need for Speed: Shift, and EA's own UK-based gaming company Criterion Games came with Hot Pursuit in 2010. In 2011, Slightly Mad Studios released a sequel to Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed and EA Black Box released Need for Speed: The Run after their universally poor received 2008 entry Need for Speed: Undercover.
When V-Rally was released in 1997, it was developed by the European based company, Eden Studios, and had nothing in common with the preceding Need for Speed games. EA however, bought the rights to title of the game and produced it in North America as Need for Speed: V-Rally. Eden Studios would develop V-Rally 2 in Europe, while EA would publish it in North America as Need for Speed V-Rally 2. V-Rally 2 however, followed the same formula as the other Need for Speed titles. In 1999, EA announced plans to make a spin-off of the Need for Speed series with the release of Need For Speed Motor City. The game however, was later confirmed that it would be included into the Need for Speed franchise and the spin-off series was never produced, and the game was renamed as Motor City Online.
There have been 16 games released in the Need for Speed series. Six games were developed by EA Canada, two by European-based video game developer Eden Games and two by Criterion Games.
This game was not released on the PS3, but the PS2 version is available as a digital download on PlayStation Network as of 2012.
The iOS version was canceled due to low sales of The Run.
The Need for Speed franchise's first and longest era was mostly focused on luxury, sport and exotic cars; many of them European, although several American and Japanese models were in the games. The era included driving on exotic locations and roads, and was also known for the then-high-detailed cars with in-door cockpits (only first-era games featured driver cabins until 2009's Shift). The era was also known for the police pursuits and police cars, most of them were playable and known for the high-speed pursuits, which became a core element of the franchise as a whole. The era started with the original Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed and ended with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
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. Subsequent releases for the PC run only within Windows.
The first installment of the NFS was one of only two serious attempts by the series to provide a realistic simulation of car handling and physics without arcade elements (the other being Porsche Unleashed). Electronic Arts teamed up with automotive magazine Road & Track to match vehicle behaviour, including the mimicking of the sounds made by the vehicles' gear control levers. The game also contained precise vehicle data with spoken commentary, several "magazine style" images of each car interior and exterior and even short video-clips highlighting the vehicles set to music.
Most cars and tracks are available at the beginning of the game, and the objective is to unlock the remaining locked content by winning tournaments. The first version featured chases by police cars, which remained a popular theme throughout the series - the so-called Hot Pursuit editions (Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed: High Stakes, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Need for Speed: Carbon, Need for Speed: Undercover, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)) and have sold better in the marketplace than intervening versions. The initial version also featured an obnoxious opponent who taunted the player if the computer won the race or the player is arrested (if the player is ticketed several times).
Another version of the game, called The Need for Speed: Special Edition, is based on the 1995 PC release of the game, and was released only for PC CD-ROM in 1996. It featured support for DirectX 2 and TCP/IP networking, two new tracks, time of day variations for most tracks (morning, midday and evening), and various enhancements in the game engine.
Need for Speed II featured some of the rarest and most exotic vehicles ever available, including the Ford Indigo concept vehicle, and features 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 not only the NeGcon controller, but both the Dual Analog and the DualShock controllers as well.
A new racing mode was also introduced in NFS II dubbed Knockout, where the last racers to finish laps will be eliminated until the only leading racer remains, and wins. Foregoing the realism of the first Need for Speed, NFS II provided a more arcade-like gameplay style, while maintaining the intricately designed levels.][ In addition, track design was more open-ended; players could now "drive" off the asphalt, and even cut across fields to take advantage of shortcuts.
The special edition of NFS II, Need for Speed II: Special Edition includes one extra track, extra cars, and support for Glide, the then-burgeoning 3D graphics standard used in 3dfx's Voodoo and Voodoo2 graphics cards.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit added Hot Pursuit mode, in which the player either attempted to outrun the police or be the cop, arresting speeders.
NFS III took advantage of the multimedia capabilities of the CD-ROM by featuring audio commentary, picture slideshows and music videos. This game also is the first in the series to allow the downloading of additional cars from the official website. As a result, modding communities have sprung up to create more vehicles which would otherwise be unavailable to the game. The PC version is also the first game in Need for Speed series to support Direct 3D hardware 3D acceleration.
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 is a racing mode (within Career) in which the reward was the losing player's car. Getaway requires the player to outrun numerous pursuing police vehicles for a given time period. Time Trap is where the racer has to finish a certain amount of laps within the time limit, with police cars trying to slow them down. Career mode incorporates a monetary reward system that allows a player to purchase vehicles and performance upgrades while earning cash by racing in a chronological set of tournaments. Another innovation is the introduction of damage models. Vehicles which have been involved in accidents featured visibly crushed car bodies and suffered from performance penalties. After a race in Career mode, the player is given the option to purchase repairs. The mode also allows players, for the first time, to upgrade cars, although the feature simply consists of switching between three upgrade levels for each car.
The PlayStation version of the game, released some months before the PC version, features improved gameplay. Only all-new tracks were implemented without the additional rehashes from NFS III in the PC version. Additionally, the AI in the game was more advanced; the five AIs known as Nemesis, Bullit, Frost, Ranger, and Chump featured different driving characteristics (i.e. Nemesis would hound the player until a slipup occurs, whilst Bullit exhibits a more aggressive style, occasionally ramming into the player's vehicle). Also, The Aston Martin DB7 was in the game at release, while the PC version required that players would need to download it online to put it in the game. In the PlayStation version, the McLaren F1 GTR was based on the 1997 Long Tail, while the PC version was based on the original 95/96 version.
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 and featured a wealth of information regarding them.
The vehicle handling in the PC version is considered the most realistic in any NFS game, but the PS1 version has very simplified arcade handling. There is an in-depth catalogue of different Porsche parts that span throughout the years. The player had to win races in the Evolution career mode 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 with various stunts and move on with their career. The game is also the first in the series since the first NFS game not to feature a split screen mode.
In terms of game construction, it is most often hailed as Need For Speed's best collaborated effort to bring forth one singular car brand and amplify and deepen the depth of knowledge both on history and motor functions. It features historical videos as well as several modern and older photos of Porsche vehicles. The Evolution concept was a hit for many people, creating many new Porsche fans due to the game's high level of academia and depth of Porsche cars. The Factory Driver was also a different kind of unlocking, except to do with performing and excelling in certain slaloms, speed races, deliveries, etc.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 was the debut Need for Speed title from the newly formed EA Black Box (created after the purchase of Black Box Games in Vancouver), and the first Need for Speed for the sixth generation of 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 was on evading the police and over-the-top tracks featuring lengthy shortcuts. Although the game allowed players to play as the police, the pursuit mode was drastically less realistic than preceding versions of NFS; players merely needed to "tap" a speeder a certain number of times to arrest them, as opposed to using actual police tactics such as the PIT maneuver to immobilize a speeding vehicle.
This was the first Need for Speed version since the start of the series that did not feature a true "in the driving seat" camera view, complete with steering wheel, dashboard etc. In some ways this can be considered to be the landmark in EA's move from realistic racing to arcade street racing. It is also the last game in the Need for Speed series for PC to feature the split-screen two player mode introduced in Need for Speed II. For the multiplayer mode of the PC version, GameSpy's internet matchmaking system was used in place of Local Area Network (LAN) play. Hot Pursuit 2 is also the first Need for Speed to forego an original instrumental rock/techno soundtrack in favor of songs sung by licensed song artists under the EA Trax label.
The second era heavily diverted from the original roots. Exotic cars with scenic locations were cut off from the later games, split-screen multiplayer was also cut off, and none of the games featured an in-car cockpit. The second era is based on the illegal street racing scene in the United States, popularized by the movie franchiseThe Fast and the Furious. Exotic European sports cars were cut off from the games, but were reintroduced in Most Wanted. They included Japanese import and popular "tuner" cars. The games featured car customization, first included in High Stakes, but featured performance upgrades (from High Stakes) and also a new feature, visual customization, which formed the basis on the rest of the games in this era. The second era also featured in-game storylines, CGI movies, and open-world sandbox maps rather than closed tracks. Ferrari also stopped taking part in the series, and never came back for the whole of the second and the third generation (despite the fact that a 'Ferrari' DLC pack was exclusive to Xbox 360 on Need For Speed Shift). The era started with Need for Speed: Underground and ended with Need for Speed: Undercover, although Undercover was the first game to use the franchise's current typeface and 'N' logo.
Need for Speed: Underground was developed by EA Black Box and released on November 17, 2003. This was the first Need for Speed to require Hardware Transform and Lighting in Graphics Cards. Most of the new elements in Underground have become defining marks of later installments in the Need for Speed series.
Underground proposed a shift from semi-professional racing and isolated circuits to the street racing style of other arcade racing series: all circuits are now part of a single map, Olympic City, except for drifts. Underground game introduced three new play modes (Drag, Drift and Sprint) and tuning with more options than in the previous attempt, High Stakes. Underground was also the first game in the series to feature a story, told via pre-rendered videos, completely rebooting the franchise.
Underground features tuner cars and focuses on the import tuner culture shown in movies like the Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious and this video game has some competition with the Midnight Club Series. The game has a wide variety of tuning options such as widebody kits, bumpers, spoilers, rims, hoods, roof scoops, window tints, neon lighting, decals, vinyls, paint and performance upgrades such as engine and nitrous. City street racing is the primary focus of the game.
Due to law enforcement reasons, there were no cops in Underground and Underground 2, which drew criticism as cops were an important part of previous titles' gameplay. The game received good reviews, which generally criticised cops not being in the game.][
Need for Speed: Underground 2, the sequel to the commercial hit Need for Speed: Underground, was released on November 15, 2004. A demo of the game was placed as a "late" easter egg in finished copies of the EA Games and Criterion Games collaboration Burnout 3: Takedown, and completed versions of NFSU2 also have a demo of Burnout 3 in the game.
In Underground 2, the story mode continues, but there are new racing modes such as the Underground Racing League and Street X, new and more tuning options, as well as a new method of selecting races—just driving around the city (similar to Grand Theft Auto and Midnight Club II) and selecting race "beacons". Also included is an "outrun" mode where a player can challenge random opponents on the road and the race leader will attempt to distance themselves away from the opponent to defeat the opponent (similar to Tokyo Xtreme Racer). Underground 2 also introduces several SUVs, which could be customized as extensively as other Underground 2 vehicles and used to race against other SUV racers.
The customization features in the game were significantly expanded to modifications that have no actual effect on vehicle performance. The sound systems could be put in the trunk of cars, but served no purpose other than sheer flash. The game also features more extensive product placement for companies with no connection to auto racing, such as integrating the logo for Cingular Wireless, an American wireless communications company, into the game's messaging system and displaying it on-screen for much of the gameplay. This game has extensive amount of customization.
The performance and handling of the car is not only affected from "performance shops", but cosmetic modifications, like spoilers and hoods, which affect the downforce of the car.
Need for Speed: Underground Rivals was the first Need for Speed game released on the PlayStation Portable. It is not the same game as Need for Speed: Underground 2 as it had no free roam and the cars were very limited, and was released on February 24, 2005 in Japan, March 14, 2005 in North America, and September 1, 2005 in Europe. The title went Platinum in Europe on June 30, 2006.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted was developed by EA Canada, 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 make a comeback and represent a significant body of the gameplay, and includes the free-roaming aspect of Underground 2, but with less extensive vehicle customization features than in the Underground series. The customization options are improved slightly in the later Need for Speed titles. The story mode is presented in a significantly different style from Underground, with CGI effects mixed with live action, which was used in later games, such as Need for Speed: Carbon. The mode also features 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 has to meet certain requirements before he can take on the next Blacklist rival, such as races completed, bounty earned, etc.
A special Black Edition of Most Wanted was also released,features additional races and challenges, and a few bonus cars, including a specially-tuned BMW E46 (M3) GTR, a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, a red Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, a Porsche, and a few others, and also includes a Black Edition-only behind-the-scenes DVD. Both versions of Most Wanted are available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo DS, and Windows-based PCs. Only the standard edition of Most Wanted is available for GameCube and Xbox 360 ("Black Edition" was not produced for these platforms). Black Edition was made for the tenth anniversary of the Need for Speed series.
Most Wanted had extremely positive reviews and received universal acclaim from reviewers in many gaming websites and magazines, praising the graphics, sound effects and general gameplay. A reboot of the game, also named Need for Speed: Most Wanted, was announced in 2012 with British developer Criterion Games responsible for the development.
Need for Speed: Carbon was developed by EA Black Box and was released on October 31, 2006, for Windows-based personal computers, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360, and this is the first Need for Speed game for PlayStation 3 and Wii and the last NFS game for Nintendo GameCube and Xbox, followed by video game consoles and handheld game consoles. Carbon's handheld port is known as Need for Speed Carbon: Own the City. The Wii port lacked online play, but made full use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
NFS: Carbon continues the story of the player from Most Wanted, however, the game has far less emphasis on the police than NFS: Most Wanted. Carbon saw the return of nighttime-only racing, and a selection of cars similar to that of Most Wanted, including compact cars and sports cars associated with import culture, American muscle cars, and supercars. Carbon introduces a new feature wherein the player is allowed to form a "crew," to which members with different abilities may be chosen that aid 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 player and a game boss take turns racing down a canyon, trying to stay as close to the leader as possible. The closer the player is to the leader, the more points they accrue. If the player is able to overtake the leader and remain in front (10 seconds), it will go down to the next round where the player must stay as far ahead as possible to gain more points and win against the boss.
Another new feature is "Autosculpt", which allows players to custom-fabricate their own ground effects, rims, hoods, and other parts. The cars featured on the front cover of game are the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX and Dodge Challenger. The car featured on the front cover of the Collector's Edition is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
The Collector's Edition of NFS: Carbon features 4 exclusive cars, 10 pre-tuned cars, 6 new races, 3 unique challenge events, 10 unique vinyls and a Bonus DVD showing the making of Carbon and showcasing all the cars used in the game. The Collector's Edition also features alternate box art and metallic finish packaging. Although the MAC edition doesn't display the Collector's Edition title, it contains all the Collector's Edition features.
Need for Speed: ProStreet is the 2007 released title in the Need for Speed series, developed by EA Black Box and released on November 14, 2007 in North America and on November 23, 2007 in Europe.
Key features of the game include realistic damage, a return to realistic racing (instead of the arcade-like racing of previous titles), modeling, burnouts and more. The game also lacks the free roam mode found in earlier releases, which previously allowed players to roam the streets. Instead, all of the races are on closed race tracks that take place on organized race days. The game consisted of Drag races, Speed challenges, Grip races (circuit racing), and drift races.
Need for Speed: Undercover was developed by EA Black Box and 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 due to the fact that the sales of ProStreet didn't live up to EA's hopes for the game, the franchise will go back to its "roots" with a number of features, including open-world racing and a new highway battle mode. The game was met with average responses, mostly in the 65% to 70% range, but the responses were higher than ProStreet (one response was higher than 70%, three of them were below a 65%).
The game focuses on, like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, tuning and cop chases. The game features over 50 cars. The game takes place in a fictional city, in a Tri-city Bay area. The player's role is an undercover cop, trying to stop the racers. The game contains live-action cutscenes which feature the actress Maggie Q. The game also features a damage system and now parts can break off after a crash. However, the player doesn't need to pay for the damage and the car is repaired automatically after each race, unlike 2007's Need for Speed: Pro Street.
The Collector's Edition for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 adds another 5 new cars, and twelve new circuit, sprint and checkpoint track configurations. Also included are specially tuned versions of ten existing cars, which are available in quick race and online modes, plus 35 exclusive vinyls for adding a unique visual style to any of your cars.
EA also ported Undercover to various mobile devices. It is available for purchase and download in the iTunes App Store for the iPod Touch and iPhone, and in the Palm App Catalog for the Palm Pre, and Windows Mobile. It is also the last Need for Speed game for PlayStation 2.
The third era partially returned back to the roots, also explored different types of racing game genres, borrowed elements from other games, such as Gran Turismo, and also made a remake from the popular first era game, Hot Pursuit.
Need for Speed: Shift was developed by Slightly Mad Studios, released on September 15, 2009, primarily centers around legal races in real-life racing circuits around the world, and maintain its mix of exotic, import and muscle cars.
It features over 60 cars, divided into 4 tiers. It features 19 tracks, some of which are actual licensed tracks and others which are fictional. In addition to improved driving simulation and an adaptive difficulty, the game reintroduces cockpit view, the first in the series since Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. NFS: Shift focuses on racing simulation rather than arcade racing of previous titles. The car featured on the cover page is a BMW E92 M3 GT2.
NFS: Shift received better reviews than the last 3 games in the series, Carbon, ProStreet and Undercover. It gained a 9.0 rating from IGN and the Official Xbox Magazine, while it gained a 7.0 from Eurogamer and GameSpot, who were considerably less impressed. The reviewers generally praised the in-car view of the game and its sense of speed, while most of the criticism revolved around the drift aspect of NFS: Shift.
The Special Edition of NFS: Shift contains a special tuned BMW M3 GT2, and an Elite Series track. Two downloadable contents were released for the game:
Need for Speed: Nitro is the first Need for Speed 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 while it was released in Europe on November 6, 2009. Need for Speed: Nitro is also available as a social multiplayer game in Facebook.
Need for Speed Nitro-X (2010) is a newer installment and the sequel to the original Nitro. Announced shortly after E3 2010, EA released details on bringing the Need For Speed series onto Nintendo's digital distribution DSiWare service for use with the DSi/XL and the 3DS system. Titled Need For Speed: Nitro-X, the game is essentially the original release with a couple of updates, such as 18 licensed vehicles, never-before-driven police units, custom tags for in-game usage with the DSi camera, 16 updated tracks from all 6 original Nitro locations, a revised career mode, local multiplayer matches for up to 4 players, as well as new rewards and unlockables. The game was released as a digital download only and as such, be priced at a premium (800+ Nintendo points). It was originally going to be released on September 20, 2010, but EA delayed the game slightly to work on improving the in-game physics engine. It became re-scheduled for a release on October 8, 2010 in North America but was delayed once again and released on November 15, 2010 in North America and November 26, 2010 in Europe.
Need for Speed: World is a free-to-play MMO racing game exclusively for Windows-based PCs.
It takes on the gameplay style of Most Wanted and Carbon, focusing on illegal racing, tuning and police chases, and adds classic MMO elements to the mix. World even incorporates 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 beta was launched on June 2, 2010. The game was released to players who had the starter pack on July 20, 2010 and to others on July 27, 2010. Previously, the players who didn't purchase the Starter Pack will not be able to progress further from level 10; the level cap for those players has since been removed on September 8, 2010, allowing all players' progression and availability.
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 cop chases rather than car customization. Hot Pursuit, as the name implies, tends to return the series to the roots, and is inspired by the original 3DO Need For Speed game. The game won many awards at the E3 2010, including "Best Racing Game" and other "Best of E3"-awards. It is the first game in the Need for Speed series since the original Hot Pursuit to win an E3 award, and is currently the highest-rated Need for Speed game.
There are over 60 cars, most of them are available to both racers and cops, but a few are exclusive to each side. Most of them are exotics and feature cars such as the Lamborghini Reventón, McLaren F1, Bugatti Veyron and Pagani Zonda Cinque. Unlike previous NFS titles, there is no customization. Instead of cities and circuits like previous games, the game takes place in a fictional rural area called Seacrest County. The scenery ranges from dense forests to snowy mountains to deserts. The "free roam" feature in the game lets you explore Seacrest County. Hot Pursuit lets players play as either a cop or racer, and has a separate career mode for each side. The game's primary focus is to provide players with high speed cop versus racer chases.
The game also features many weapons. Some are exclusive to the cops or racers. Power-ups include spike strips, which are used by both cops and racers and activate a spike strip from the back of the car and lay it on the road, and EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) which are used by both cops and racers and can be used for taking down cops or racers, or for performing takedowns (which is an important feature of the seriesBurnout). Other weapons include helicopters and roadblocks for cops and turbo and jammers for racers.
The biggest feature introduced in Hot Pursuit is Need for Speed Autolog, which track player progressions and statistics compared to other player and recommends players 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. This Autolog feature carried on in the next game, Shift 2: Unleashed. Hot Pursuit has received some of the best reviews of the series, which generally praise the Autolog feature of the game and the cop vs racer chases.
The Limited Edition gives players exclusive access to the racer version of Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione and Ford Shelby GT500. Also included are four unlocked vehicles from the start (cop version of Porsche Cayman S and Dodge Challenger SRT8 and racer version of Audi TT RS Coupe and Chevrolet Camaro SS). Various downloadable content were released for the game:
Shift 2: Unleashed was developed by Slightly Mad Studios, released on March 29, 2011 and is the sequel to 2009's Need for Speed: Shift. Shift 2 expands on the gameplay and features introduced with the original.
Shift 2 includes the Autolog feature introduced with Hot Pursuit, which allows players to keep track of their friends progress of achievements as well as best lap times. It also includes features such as night racing, an in-helmet camera, a more in depth career mode with different areas to complete. The driver aggression/precision aspect of scoring has been taken away to free up the game, and to focus more on the driving experience rather than getting points divided into two sections. There were many minor improvements (including a full damage model now, and improved car flip physics) that were added to Shift 2 and polished the game in its entirety.
Shift 2 features more than 140 licensed vehicles available for racing and tuning, a smaller number compared with racing sims such as Forza Motorsport 3 and Gran Turismo 5. However, executive producer Marcus Nilsson said the studio wanted to concentrate on having only the must-have speedsters. There are also 40 real-world locations including Bathurst, Spa-Francorchamps and Suzuka as well as fictional circuits like downtown London and Shanghai.
The Limited Edition features 3 unlocked cars from the start (the Nissan Silvia Spec-R Aero, Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV and Lamborghini Murciélago LP640) and additional 37 career race events, which include Old vs. New matchups, Manufacturer Battles and Single Manufacturer races. Two downloadable contents were released for Shift 2:
Need for Speed: The Run was developed by the series primary developer EA Black Box, released on November 15, 2011. The Run was in development since Black Box's 2008 entry in the series, Undercover, which received mixed reviews (though better than the previous entry, ProStreet). The game continues the action focused street-racing gameplay of Black Box's previous titles. The story is based on a race across the United States from San Francisco to New York.
The game features quick time events with the player, for the first time in Need for Speed history, exiting their car and traveling on foot. The Run is 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, NFS Autolog, the Need for Speed franchise's social competition functionality, which was introduced in Hot Pursuit and was previously used in Shift 2: Unleashed, is also back as it continues to track career progression and compare game stats.
The Run employs a large range of real-world vehicles, seemingly taking in the usual mix of muscle cars, street racers and refined exotics. The cars can be altered with performance upgrades and visual upgrades, such as paint colors and body kits. There are cosmetic body kits known as Style Pack kits and Aero Pack kits, which affect aerodynamics as well as performance. An XP (Experience points) system is used for unlocking cars and events.
The Limited Edition features three exclusive cars (the Lamborghini Aventador, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Porsche 911 Carrera S) and five exclusive challenges with bonus rewards and achievements.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is developed by British games developer Criterion Games, released on October 30, 2012. The game picked up on the Most Wanted IP, as opposed to the Hot Pursuit extension that Criterion had worked on in previous years. This was the first game that was made when Criterion Games took over Need for Speed, dethroning 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 completion of races, breaking through billboards, speeding past speed cameras, and beating friends in several multiplayer and single player races and "SpeedLists."
Need for Speed: Rivals was announced on May 23, 2013 and is currently being developed by Ghost Games (formerly EA Gothenburg) in association with Criterion Games. The game will be released for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 19, 2013, and Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sometime in the same year.
At E3 2012, Criterion vice president Alex Ward announced that the days of random developers churning out yearly NFS updates are over. Ward wouldn't confirm that all Need for Speed titles for the future would developed wholly by Criterion, but he did say that the studio will have "strong involvement" in them. Ward was, however, clear that Criterion will have control over which Need for Speed titles will come out in the future.
In April 2013, Electronic Gaming Monthly published a report that Need for Speed: Underground could be next on the Criterion Games reboot slate. The report suggested that the game would take place in a rebooted, original Bayview setting rather than Underground 2's. Just hours later, Criterion Games' creative director Alex Ward debunked reports that the studio was working on a Underground reboot. In a series of tweets, Ward indicated the studio was moving away from racing games. Initially it was suspected this meant that Criterion would not be developing racing games in the short-term, but in a follow-up message, Ward clarified that he was speaking personally and not speaking for the studio.
In the past few years, particularly after the 2005 release of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, the series has seen a sharp decline in sales as well as a heavy downgrade in critical reception. Many fans and critics have heavily criticized the developers for distancing the series from many features that players had grown fond of, which include: Street racing atmosphere, scenic drives, exotic cars, split screen, quick-race modes, and car customization. In September 2010, EA admitted that the decline in both sales and quality of the Need for Speed franchise was its own fault - for overworking one of its studios, Black Box. EA's CEO John Riccitiello stated "In the '04 to '07 period, we had a single studio, Black Box, up in Vancouver, building our [NFS games]. And we literally had them on a 'death march' building for five years in a row. [They were] annual iterations, they had to put it out; no rest for the weary... It was definitely our fault. We're back in two studios and we've got them on bi-annual cycles."
EA has decided to work with DreamWorks Studios to create a film version of Need for Speed.