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Need for Speed (NFS) is a racing game franchise published by Electronic Arts and currently developed by Criterion Games, the developers of Burnout. The series generally centers around illegal street racing and tasks players to complete various types of races while evading the local law enforcement in police pursuits. The series is one of EA's oldest franchises not published under their EA Sports brand. The series released its first title, The Need for Speed, in 1994. The most recent game, Need for Speed Unbound, was released on December 2, 2022. Additionally, a free-to-play mobile installment released in 2015, Need for Speed: No Limits, was actively developed by Firemonkeys Studios, the developers of Real Racing 3.
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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 150 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 1991, 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 1992.
At E3 2012, 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.
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.
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. In drift races, in games like Underground and Need for Speed (2015), 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 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, whilst passing through a limited number of checkpoints.
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, Olympic, Bayview, Rockport, Palmont City, Tri-City Bay, Seacrest County, Fairhaven City, Redview County, Ventura Bay, Fortune Valley, Palm City and Lakeshore City.
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 running only on Windows (excluding Need for Speed: Carbon which was also released on Mac OS X).
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 Direct3D hardware.
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.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted was developed by EA Black Box, released in 2005, and was one of the first games released for the Xbox 360. The PlayStation Portable port of Most Wanted is titled Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0.
Need for Speed: Undercover, developed by EA Black Box, was released in 2008. 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". However, the game received lower scores on aggregate than ProStreet.
NFS: Shift received better reviews than the prior three games in the series. The Special Edition contained a specially-tuned BMW M3 GT2, and an Elite Series track. Two items of downloadable content were released for the game.
Need for Speed: Nitro-X (2010) is 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 four players; and new rewards and unlockables. The game was released as a digital download only, released in 2010.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was developed by British games developer Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts in 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.
The sequel to Need for Speed: Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed was developed by Slightly Mad Studios, and released in 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. 041b061a72