Need for Speed

From Academic Kids

Need for Speed (NFS) is a series of video games by EA Games released on platforms including personal computers, Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation 2 consoles. The games consist of racing with various cars on various tracks.


Origin of the series

Need for Speed was developed by Distinctive Software Inc., a game studio based in Vancouver, Canada. DSI had previously created popular racing games such as "Stunts" and "Test Drive II". It is possible that game publisher Electronic Arts recruited DSI to develop the NFS series as a direct competitor to Accolade's hit Test Drive series of racing games.

Distinctive Software later was purchased by EA and renamed EA Canada. DSI's involvement with NFS decreased over time as they focused their efforts in creating the EA Sports line of games. As of 2002, another Vancouver-based EA affiliate, Blackbox Software, has been NFS's primary developer.

Need for Speed installments

The Need for Speed (1994)

The original Need for Speed was released for 3DO in 1994 with versions for PlayStation, PC, and Sega Saturn following shortly afterwards (1995 and 1996). The first version featured chases by police cars which remained a popular theme throughout the series - the so-called Hot Pursuit (Need for Speed III and Need for Speed VI) editions have sold better in the marketplace than intervening versions.

The first installment of the NFS series was beyond doubt the only serious attempt to provide a realistic simulation of car handling and physics without arcade elements. Electronic Arts teamed up with automotive magazine Road & Track to match vehicle behaviour, including the mimicking of the the sounds made by the vehicles' gear control levers.

The game contained precise vehicle data with spoken commentary.

Need for Speed SE (1995)

A little known edition of Need for Speed, this "Special Edition" is sometimes considered as the lost episode of Need for Speed.

Available only on PC CD-ROM, that was able to run natively under Windows 95, supported DirectX 2 and TCP/IP networking, plus included 2 bonus tracks and various enhancements in the game engine.

Need for Speed II (1997)

NFS II featured three racing modes: Tournament, Knock-out, and Single race. NFS II featured some of the rarest and most exotic vehicles ever available, including the Ford Indigo concept vehicle. Though the gameplay was arcade-like, the levels were intricately well designed.

Need for Speed II SE (1997)

This special edition of NFS II included extra tracks, extra cars, and support for Glide, the then-burgeoning 3D graphics standard used in 3Dfx's Voodoo and Voodoo 2 video accelerator cards.

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998)

NFS III added Hot Pursuit mode, in which the player either attempted to outrun the police or tried to arrest speeders. Most cars and tracks were not available at the beginning of the game. The objective was to unlock these rewards by winning races. It is the highest-selling of all Need for Speed games and is the most popular one.

For the first time, track design was more open-ended. Players could now "drive" off the asphalt, and even cut across fields to take advantage of shortcuts. Furthermore, the PC version of the game allowed players to be the cop.

NFS III took advantage of the multimedia capabilities of the CD-ROM by featuring audio commentary, picture slideshows and music videos. This game also was the first to allow the downloading of additional car models. A community of carbuilders sprung up as a result.

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

High Stakes (US title) and Road Challenge (European title) was released in the summer of 1999. It was widely criticised for being too similar to NFS III.

Nevertheless, "High Stakes" introduced several new types of gameplay: "High Stakes", "Getaway" and "Career". "High Stakes" was a racing mode in which the reward was the losing player's car. "Getaway" required the player to outrun a pursuing police vehicle for as long as possible. Career mode incorporated a monetary reward system that allowed a player to purchase vehicles and performance upgrades while earning cash by racing in a chronological set of tournaments.

Another innovation was 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, the player was given the option to purchase repairs.

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

Porsche Unleashed (US title) and Porsche 2000 (European title) was different from the previous versions because it featured only Porsches; it featured a wealth of information regarding them. The cars handled more realisticly than in and other NFS game, and it had very advanced graphics. The player had to win races to unlock cars in chronological order from 1960s to 1990s. It also featured a factory driver mode, where the player had to test Porsches with various stunts and move on with his career. It was the first NFS game that didn't have a split screen mode. In later years, it was released for Game Boy Advance.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (2002)

As EA Blackbox's debut contribution to the NFS gaming lineage, Hot Pursuit 2 was essentially NFS III with improved graphics. However, the game received mixed reviews and was a commercial failure because of its overly arcade-like gameplay. One frequent example cited by critics was the inclusion of a police helicopter which dropped barrels of explosive toxic waste in the player's path. Also, the additional downloads of cars form the web were quite hard to find. This was also actually more than just one game, it was a game sub-collection, due to each system version didn't have the same tracks and gameplay.

Critically, this game lacked several features present in its Hot Pursuit predecessor, including split screen two-person racing, a dashboard camera view, decent grid (NFS6 allowed only six cars in one race), and saveable instant replays. LAN multiplayer capabilities were removed in favour of's Internet matchmaking system.

Hot Pursuit 2 was the first Need for Speed to forego an original instrumental rock/techno soundtrack, in favour of songs sung by licensed song artists via the EA Trax business venture.

Need for Speed Underground (2003)

A complete reimagining of the series' formula, NFSU offered a career mode featuring a storyline, and a garage mode that allowed players to fully customize their cars with a large variety of brand-name performance and visual upgrades. All races take place in a city at night. Instead of hundred-thousand dollar exotics, Underground featured vehicles associated with import tuner culture. This, plus the increasingly arcade-like controls, became points of controversy for NFS fans. Despite this, Underground was commercially very successful.

It is rumoured that the car manufacturers were very strict in how their vehicles were to be portrayed in this game, especially considering the "illegal street racing" reputation of the tuner culture. EA took some effort in making the races appear as sanctioned racing events, and included a public service announcement in the game's introduction. In addition, vehicles do not have damage models.

Need for Speed Underground 2 (2004)

NFSU 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. In this installment the NFS Underground story 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 selecting race "beacons." Also included is an "outrun" mode where a player can challenge random opponents on the road and attempt to leave them behind (similar to Tokyo Xtreme Racer).

Need for Speed Underground Rivals (2005) for Playstation Portable

NFSU Rivals for PSP is a PSP launch game meaning it will be released on the launch date. NFSU Rivals features American Muscle Cars vs Japanese Tuner Cars. This game includes several cars not featured in previous Need for Speed Underground games, including the 1970 Dodge Charger, 1967 Ford Mustang, and the 1997 Chevrolet Corvette C5.

The Cars of Need for Speed Underground Rivals are:

- 1997 Chevrolet Corvette C5 - 1969 Dodge Charger - 1999 Dodge Neon - 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 - 1967 Ford Mustang GT - Ford SVT Cobra R - 1999 Mazda Miata (MX5) - 1995 Mazda RX-7 - 2004 Mazda RX-8 - 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX - 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 - 1992 Nissan 240sx SE - 2003 Nissan 350z - 2003 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V - 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 - 2004 Subaru Impreza WXR STi - 2003 Toyota Celica GT-S - 1998 Toyota Supra - 2003 Volkswagen Golf GTI - 2004 Pontiac GTO

Need for Speed Most Wanted (N/A yet; November 2005)

NFS Most Wanted takes the series back to its roots, with police chases making up the body of the gameplay.

Eight game modes are promised:

  • Multiple point races
  • Toll booth races
  • Speed trap photos
  • Outrun
  • Outrun best route
  • Circuit
  • Sprint
  • Knockout

Four 'distinct regions' will be offered, along with real time weather and an evolving environment. There won't be racing in the night, all the action is going to take place between sunrise and sunset. Around 100 cars will be on offer. 'Asian import (tuners), exotics, American muscle and Euro imports,' as detailed by EA. 'Most Wanted' delivers a unique, fast-paced and gripping ride in the racing genre as players build up their Rap Sheet and street cred to move their way up the Black List to become the most wanted racer on the streets. Players will go head-to-head with the top drivers on the scene as well as strategically evade more than half dozen cops at any one time.

Online play will be included with what is described as a 'similar feature set to NFSU2' though this time, world-wide play will be included with no conflict between the North American and European versions. Most Wanted will be available for PC, PSP, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Game Boy Advance or Nintendo DS.

Gamers also can participate in the Need for Speed Most Wanted Custom Car Vinyl Design Contest to have their own custom vinyl considered for possible inclusion in the upcoming game. More information on the game: [1] ( Screenshots: [2] (

Community involvement

The Need for Speed online community has been overwhelmingly growing throughout the series. Despite lack of official support from the series developers and publishers, the community has often found ways to improve the games through the creation of extra cars, tracks, and other mods.

The modification of the series can be traced back to the first game in the series, The Need for Speed. A tool for editing the tracks known as TRACKED was developed and published by Denis Auroux ( However, the second game in the series, NFS2, was the true starting point for community modifications to the game. M. Thommson developed a range of software for the modification and creation of new cars and tracks for the game which rapidly created the initial online NFS community. The third and fourth installments in the game found more editing tools for editing cars (CarCad and ZModeler ( as well as tracks (T3ED). The fifth game in the series was the only game in the series that was not modifiable until recently. Rumour has it that Porsche prevented developers from publishing tools to modify the game. However, tools were available for adding extra cars to the sixth installment in the series. NFS Underground found a different interest in editing from previous games. As a tuner culture game, Underground brought about tools to import user-made vinyls and decals into the game. This shooted off EA's competition to include user-made vinyls in Underground 2 and Most Wanted.

Today, the community still lives on and can be found actively participating to improve the series. Some of the most prominent english speaking communities can be found at NFSCars (, ND4SPDWorld (, NFSUnlimited (, NFSCheats ( and Racerplanet (

External links


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