Racing video game franchise published by Electronic Arts
Need for Speed (NFS) is a racing video game franchise published by Electronic Arts and currently developed by Criterion Games, the developers of Burnout. 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 The most recent game, Need for Speed Heat, was released on November 8,
The series has been overseen and had games developed by multiple notable teams over the years including EA Canada, EA Black Box, Slightly Mad Studios, and Ghost Games. The franchise has been critically well received and is one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, selling over million copies of games. Due to its strong sales, the franchise has expanded into other forms of media including a film adaptation and licensed Hot Wheels toys.
The Need for Speed series was originally developed by Distinctive Software, a video game studio based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Prior to Electronic Arts' purchase of the company in , it had created popular racing games such as Stunts and Test Drive II: The Duel. After the purchase, the company was renamed Electronic Arts (EA) Canada. The company capitalized on its experience in the domain by developing the Need for Speed series in late 
EA Canada continued to develop and expand the Need for Speed franchise up to , when another Vancouver-based gaming company, named Black Box Games, was acquired by EA and contracted to continue the series with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
Later, Slightly Mad Studios was brought in, releasing Need for Speed: Shift in , followed by a sequel, Shift 2: Unleashed, in UK-based company Criterion Games would release Hot Pursuit in The game introduced a social platform, titled Autolog, which allows players to track game progress, view leaderboards, share screenshots with friends, among other features.
At E3 , Criterion Games vice president Alex Ward announced that random developers would no longer be developing NFS titles. Ward wouldn't confirm that all Need for Speed games in the future would be developed entirely by Criterion, but he did say the studio would have "strong involvement" in them and would have control over which NFS titles would be released in the future.
In August , following the downsizing of Criterion Games, Swedish developer Ghost Games would become the main studio for the franchise and oversee future development. At the time, 80% of Ghost Games' work force consisted of former Criterion Games employees. Ghost Games would develop 's Need for Speed Rivals, the Need for Speedreboot, 's Need for Speed Payback, and 's Need for Speed Heat.
In February , Criterion regained oversight of the franchise.
Almost all of the games in the NFS series employ the same fundamental rules and similar mechanics: 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 and tracks. Before each race, the player chooses a vehicle and has the option of selecting either an automatic or manual transmission. All games in the series have some form of multiplayer mode allowing players to race one another via a split screen, a LAN or the Internet. Since Need for Speed: High Stakes, the series has also integrated car body customization into gameplay.
Although the games share the same name, their tone and focus can vary significantly. For example, in some games the cars can suffer mechanical and visual damage, while in other games the cars cannot be damaged at all; in some games, the software simulates real-car behavior (physics), while in others there are more forgiving physics.
With the release of Need for Speed: Underground, the series shifted from racing sports cars on scenic point-to-point tracks to an import/tuner subculture involving street racing in an urban setting. To date, this theme has remained prevalent in most of the following games.
Need for Speed: Shift and its sequel took a simulator approach to racing, featuring closed-circuit racing on real tracks like the Nürburgring and the Laguna Seca, and fictional street circuits in cities like London and Chicago. The car lists include a combination of exotics, sports cars, and tuners in addition to special race cars.
Most of the games in the franchise include police pursuits in some form or other. In some of the games featuring police pursuit (e.g. Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit), the player can play as either the felon or the cop. The concepts of drifting and dragging were introduced in Need for Speed: Underground. These new mechanics are included in the tournament/career mode aside from the regular street races. Drift races, in games like Need for Speed: Underground and Need for Speed (), the player must defeat other racers by totaling the most points, earned by the length and timing of the drift made by the player's vehicle. In drag races, the player must finish first to win the race, though if the player crashes into an obstacle or wall, the race ends. In the recent game Need for Speed: Payback, the player has to earn a certain number of points to win; increase their multiplier based on how many points they get, whist passing through a limited number of checkpoints.
The concept of car tuning evolved with each new game, from focusing mainly on the mechanics of the car to including how the car looks. Each game except Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit has car tuning which can set options for items like ABS, traction control, or downforce, or for upgrading parts like the engine or gearbox. Visual tuning of the player's car becomes important in tournament/career mode after the release of Need for Speed: Underground 2, when the appearance is rated from zero to ten points. When a car attains a high enough visual rating, the vehicle is eligible to be on the cover of a fictional magazine.
Like all racing games, the Need for Speed series features a list of cars, modeled and named after actual cars. Cars in the franchise are divided into four categories: exotic cars, muscle cars, tuners, and special vehicles. Exotic cars feature high performance, expensive cars like the Lamborghini Murciélago, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford GT; muscle cars refer to the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro; while tuner cars are 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, such as the Ford Crown Victoria in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 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. Beginning with Underground, the series has taken place in fictional metropolitan cities. The first game featured traffic on "head to head" mode, while later games traffic can be toggled on and off, and starting with Underground, traffic is a fixed obstacle. Most of the recent Need for Speed games are set in fictional locations of our world, in a number of different time periods. These include, but are not limited to, Bayview, Rockport, Palmont City, Seacrest County, Fairhaven City, Redview County, Ventura Bay, Fortune Valley and Palm City.
There have been 24 games released in the Need for Speed series.
|The Need for Speed|| ||DOS, Windows||3DO, Saturn, PS1||N/A ||Electronic Arts Canada||3DO version was the first version to be released |
|Need for Speed II|| ||Windows||PS1||N/A ||EA (Canada/Seattle) ||Prototypes and showcars available. |
|Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit|| ||Windows||PS1||N/A ||EA (Canada/Seattle) |
|Need for Speed: High Stakes|| ||Windows||PS1||N/A ||EA (Canada/Seattle) ||Known as Need for Speed: Road Challenge in Europe and Brazil |
|Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed|| ||Windows||PS1||GBA||Eden Games/EA Canada|
|Known as Need for Speed: Porsche in most European countries and Need for Speed: Porsche in Germany and Latin America |
|Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2|| ||Windows||GC, PS2, Xbox||N/A ||EA (Black Box/Seattle) |
|Need for Speed: Underground|| ||Windows||GC, PS2, Xbox ||GBA ||EA Black Box |
|Need for Speed: Underground 2|| ||Windows||GC, PS2, Xbox ||GBA, Mobile, DS, PSP||EA Black Box ||PSP version was titled Need for Speed: Underground Rivals. |
|Need for Speed: Most Wanted|| ||Windows ||GC, PS2, Xbox, Xbox ||GBA, Mobile, DS, PSP ||EA Black Box ||PSP version was titled Need for Speed: Most Wanted . |
|Need for Speed: Carbon||Windows, Mac OS X||GC, PS2, Xbox, PS3, Wii, Xbox ||GBA, Mobile, DS, PSP ||EA (Canada/Black Box) ||PSP, DS and GBA versions was titled Need for Speed: Carbon Own the City. |
|Need for Speed: ProStreet|| ||Windows||PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox ||Mobile, DS, PSP ||EA Black Box |
|Need for Speed: Undercover|| ||Windows||PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox ||Mobile, DS, PSP, Windows Mobile, iOS||EA Vancouver|
|Need for Speed: Shift|| ||Windows||PS3, Xbox ||PSP, Mobile, Windows Mobile, Android, iOS ||Slightly Mad Studios|
EA Bright Light
|Need for Speed: Nitro||N/A||Wii||DS ||Firebrand Games|
|The DSiWare version was called Need for Speed: Nitro-X. |
|Need for Speed: World|| ||Windows||N/A||N/A ||EA Black Box||Free-to-play MMO racing game. Closed in |
|Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit||Windows||PS3, Wii, Xbox ||Windows Phone, Android, iOS ||Criterion Games||Wii version by Exient Entertainment|
|Shift 2: Unleashed|| ||Windows||PS3, Xbox ||iOS ||Slightly Mad Studios ||Also known as Need for Speed: Shift 2 - Unleashed. |
|Need for Speed: The Run||Windows||PS3, Wii, Xbox ||3DS||EA Black Box ||Wii/3DS versions by Firebrand Games. |
|Need for Speed: Most Wanted|| ||Windows||PS3, Wii U, Xbox ||PS Vita, Android, iOS ||Criterion Games||Wii U version (released ) was titled Need for Speed: Most Wanted U. |
|Need for Speed Rivals|| ||Windows ||PS3, PS4, Xbox , Xbox One||N/A ||Ghost Games|
|Need for Speed Rivals Complete Edition was released October 21, (including all DLC packs & pre-order bonuses). |
|Need for Speed: No Limits|| ||N/A||N/A ||Android, iOS ||Firemonkeys Studios|
|Need for Speed||Windows||PS4, Xbox One||N/A ||Ghost Games||Series reboot. Requires consistent internet connectivity. |
|Need for Speed Payback|| ||Windows||PS4, Xbox One||N/A ||Ghost Games|
|Need for Speed Heat|| ||Windows||PS4, Xbox One||N/A ||Ghost Games||Announced in Electronic Arts' Q3 FY19 Financial Results Meeting. |
The Need for Speed ()
The original Need for Speed was released for 3DO in with versions released for the PC (DOS) (), PlayStation and Saturn () 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 running only on Windows. (Excluding Need for Speed Carbon which was also released on Mac OS X)
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. The game contained vehicle data with spoken commentary, several "magazine style" images of each car, and 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. This version featured chases by police cars, a popular theme throughout the series.
Another version called The Need for Speed: Special Edition, was released only for the PC in It featured support for DirectX 2 and TCP/IP networking, two new tracks, but dropped the ever-popular flip and go in favor of the more generic scene reset after an accident, a portents of the arcade style gaming that would dominate the series ever after.
Need for Speed II ()
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. 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. 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.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit ()
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: High Stakes ()
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
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.
The PlayStation version of the game, released some months before the PC version featured improved gameplay. The AI in the game was more advanced: the five AIs known as Nemesis, Bullit, Frost, Ranger, and Chump featured different driving characteristics. In the PlayStation version, the McLaren F1 GTR was based on the Long Tail, while the PC version was based on the original 95/96 version.
Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed ()
Porsche Unleashed (North America and Latin America title), Porsche (European and Australian 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 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 to 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 ()
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, putting 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. This was the first version since the start of the series not to feature an "in the driving seat" (cockpit) camera view, transitioning EA from realistic racing to arcade street racing. It was the last game in the series for the PC version 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 was the first NFS game to use songs sung by licensed artists under the EA Trax label.
Need for Speed: Underground ()
Need for Speed: Underground was developed by EA Black Box and released in 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, as well as performance upgrades such as engines and nitrous. City street racing is the primary focus of the game. There are no police in Underground and Underground 2, which drew criticism as police had been an important part of previous titles.
Need for Speed: Underground 2 ()
Need for Speed: Underground 2, was developed by EA Black Box and released in A demo of the game was placed as a bonus in copies of the EA/Criterion collaboration Burnout 3: Takedown.
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 most significant change vs. the original Underground was the introduction of its Open World (free roam) environments, setting the tone for numerous NFS games to come. This was also the publisher's most marketed feature at launch. In addition, the game featured actresses/models Brooke Burke and Kelly Brook as in-game characters to help guide the player through the campaign.
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: Underground Rivals was the first Need for Speed game released on the PlayStation Portable. Different from Need for Speed: Underground 2 as it had no free roam and the cars were very limited, it was released in
Need for Speed: Most Wanted ()
Need for Speed: Most Wanted was developed by EA Black Box, released in , and was one of the first games released for the Xbox The PlayStation Portable port of Most Wanted is titled Need for Speed: Most Wanted .
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, and bounty earned.
A special Black Edition of Most Wanted was also released, featuring additional races, challenges, and a few bonus cars; it also included a behind-the-scenes DVD. Both versions were available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo DS, and Windows-based PCs, while only the standard edition was available for GameCube and Xbox
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. With 16 million copies sold worldwide, it's the best-selling game in the franchise. A game, also named Need for Speed: Most Wanted, was released in with British developer Criterion Games responsible for the development.
Need for Speed: Carbon ()
Need for Speed: Carbon was developed by EA Black Box in 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.
The Collector's Edition Featuring three new cars, ten specially tuned cars, six new races, and a bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes footage on the making of the game.
Need for Speed: ProStreet ()
Need for Speed: ProStreet, developed by EA Black Box, was released in 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 (essentially sprint races and speed traps), grip races (circuit racing), and drift races.
Need for Speed: Undercover ()
Need for Speed: Undercover, developed by EA Black Box, was released in The game had a significantly longer development cycle than previous games, taking 16 months to develop. EA ported Undercover to various mobile devices. It was the last Need for Speed game for PlayStation 2. EA Games president Frank Gibeau stated that since sales of ProStreet did not 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 called Tri-City Bay. The player's role was as an undercover cop, trying to stop street 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.
The Collector's Edition for PlayStation 3 and Xbox added another five new cars, twelve new circuits, and sprint and checkpoint track configurations. Also included were specially tuned versions of ten existing cars, plus 35 exclusive vinyls for adding a unique visual style.
Need for Speed: Shift ()
Need for Speed: Shift, developed by Slightly Mad Studios, was released in It features over 60 cars and 19 tracks, some of which are licensed tracks while others are fictional. The 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 three 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 ()
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, released in Need for Speed: Nitro