During the whole period of the Need For Speed games series' existence, which started in 1994, it has experienced both ups and downs in its popularity. The developers used almost every possible trick in the genre: sports car races, police pursuits, tuning, and even cutscenes with QTEs.
The last one, Need For Speed: Rivals, was released in 2013. Not only was it commemorating the twenty years of the franchise, but it was also the twentieth game in the whole series. This year we will see the release of the new game, simply titled Need For Speed, indicating the full reboot of the franchise. The game is set to be released on November 3, 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Unfortunately, the PC version got pushed back to Spring 2016.
This is a great opportunity to look into the rich history of one of the most successful racing series in the world and choose the best 5 Need For Speed games. It will also give PC owners some fresh ideas on what to play before the new game comes out next year.
5. Need For Speed: Shift (2009)
Shift turned out to be a surprisingly deep, versatile and smart racing game. It was excellent both technically and artistically. Career mode had a huge number of various race modes, collectibles, and a multiplayer feature that let you take part in a variety of competitions full of adrenaline.
The only two things missing from Shift were the integrity and the scale. The developers desperately needed to add a couple of hundred more cars and tracks, and not abuse it with effects - then it would be possible to compete with other giants like Gran Turismo and Forza. However, it was still enough to become one of the best racing games of 2009.
4. Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed (2000)
This was the only game in the series that allowed you to drive cars exclusively from Porsche. The range of cars was huge - from the earliest models of the 1950s to the latest Boxsters. It was a controversial decision to focus the whole game on Porsche alone. Of course, many fans consider this a terrible game, but believe it or not, there are many others who consider it the best in the series.
Those who liked the game appreciated the opportunity to drive those old classic models. The career mode was especially interesting, letting you win the races, earn more money, and buy newer models for your garage. The physics was great and you could feel the huge difference between 356 and 911 models.
3. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)
This was the remake of the super successful Hot Pursuit from 1998 that gave birth to the concept of police pursuits in the series. The new game took all the best features of the original and elevated them to the new heights. This was the first game that allowed you to play as a police officer chasing other players, which made this feature into one of the most highly regarded modes in the game.
Unfortunately, there were things in Hot Pursuit that ruined the overall experience. For example, a complete lack of anti-aliasing feature in the video settings spoiled an otherwise crisp texture quality. Another annoying flaw was the absence of communication means between the players within the multiplayer, both the lobby and the game.
Otherwise, the physics of the cars and the exciting track design made Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit not only one of the best games in the series, but also one of the best racing games ever.
2. Need For Speed: Underground (2003)
This was the game that borrowed all the finest elements from The Fast and The Furious movie, such as illegal drag racing, beautiful ladies, pumping beats and, of course, great looking cars. Everybody loved Underground, and the sales after the disappointing Porsche Unleashed and Hot Pursuit 2 brought the series back to success.
You could, of course, complain about the flawed financial management system, unavailability of the daytime races, the inability to turn off the headlights, and no change of weather. On the other hand, along with Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, it was one of the first video games to get the THX certificate – a standard previously given only to movies.
Tuning mode was another huge thing back then, when gamers were basically tired of the same Lamborghinis and McLarens. Suddenly they could add spoilers, neon lights, crazy paint jobs or anything that made their car look great - and what’s more important, unique from the rest.
1. Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2005)
Electronic Arts took everything that was great about the previous installments, added an open world, and cooked a delicious new game. It had the biggest range of cars and modes ever, which was the clear sign that developers wanted to satisfy everybody. Sometimes this worked and sometimes not, but in the case of Most Wanted, it worked exceedingly well.
Despite some flaws and shortcomings, Most Wanted deserves your close attention. Of course, you may not have enough patience to beat the game, but trying it out is a must.
The 2012 Criterion remake wasn’t as excellent as the original, which still looks great today, but if outdated graphics give you headaches, then grab the one from Criterion instead.
It’s also interesting to note that during all these years, there was only one game in the series that was released without the name of Need For Speed in the title – Shift 2: Unleashed.
Also, all the games were ported to almost every platform possible, except Need For Speed: Nitro, which was developed exclusively for Nintendo’s DS and Wii consoles. Despite being interesting games in their own rights, none of them had the chance to enter the top 5 list.
Now, what do we know about the new game? The garage is consistently updated with new cars, customization features already look great, and it is rumored that the highly-criticized need for permanent online connection will be eliminated, as well. So maybe something actually nice will come out of it all. The beta testing for Need For Speed begins on October 5, 2015 for PS4 and Xbox One.
Tell us about your favorite Need For Speed game and what you expect from the new one in the comments section below!