I will begin with a short history of the Need for Speed franchise. In 1994, Electronic Arts launched The Need for Speed for the 3DO console, produced by Panasonic, Sanyo and GoldStar (now LG), then in 1995 it was ported to DOS and in 1996 to Playstation consoles and Sega Saturn.
The premise of the game was made up of sports car racing and other exotic Japanese variants. The game received high grades for realism offered at that time, Electronic Arts developing a partnership with Road & Track magazine, to assist in the implementation of physics for cars, as well as sounds.
The game also showed real features of the cars and you can watch clips with each car. The game had a total of seven races, offered multiplayer, and whomever owned a personal computer equipped with a modem, could race with a friend. It was possible to be caught by the police, and after being fined three times you were arrested. This game was co-developed with Pioneer Studios. The game can still be run through DOSBox even on Windows 8.1.
We arrive in 1997, and Electronic Arts launches Need for Speed 2. This game marked the childhood of many of us, and at least for me remains one of the games that made me sit five or six hours at the computer.
We used to have an Intel Pentium running at 166 MHz NFS 2 came with a lot of improvements over the first part of the game, like other maps, new cars and better graphics. Almost everyone was sure to choose one car in multiplayer: McLaren F1! I think you remember the”pioneer” cheat to improve your car or “drive38” which replaced the car with a T-Rex.
The game also featured multiplayer Split Screen. The special version of the game introduced several cars such as BMW 520i or Mazda MX5. Additionally, it provided support the Glide API from 3dfx and a new driving mode called “wild”.
From here I will jump straight to 2003, when Need For Speed: Underground appeared, the game that introduced the “tuning” system, making the game especially loved among 2 Fast 2 Furious fans. I remember going to internet cafés and playing there because the home computer wasn’t good enough. Underground switched the driving style from that of a semi-professional driver on closed circuits to an open world where you had many illegal races between likeminded bro’s and several types of races that were introduced for the first time: Drag, Drift and Sprint.
The car modification system is much more advanced than High Stakes. This was the first title in the series to introduce more complex graphics, video cards had to support hardware Transform ‘n Lighting. It was also the first game in the series that offered a pre-rendered cutscene story. For For tuning there were available a large variety of bodykits, spoilers, ailerons and other accessories.
In 2004, following the success of Need for Speed: Underground, on November 15 the second title in the Underground series is released. Need For Speed: Underground 2 or NFSU2, which is the last good NFS released by Electronic Arts. NFSU2 was the successful culmination of a genre-defining series of games and probably the best of its category.
Since then I’ve been left waiting for a continuation or a racing game that is at least at this level.
In NFSU2 we were offered the best of the world of car racing: the most advanced tuning system, both visually and in performance, a lot of sports cars and for the first time, SUV’s; two new styles of racing, Underground Racing League and Street X and much more.
The cars had good control, the game being an arcade-racer, but the folk at EA Games managed to ruin it in follow-up titles, adopting a freakish control system, more optimized for a gamepad. The rise of racing games was up to NSFU. Of the fall there’s not much need to talk about. It is everything that has followed since then until today. No wonder EA Games won the title of the worst company in America. If you have a different opinion tell us on Facebook or in the comments section. I personally still playing NFSU2, for old time’s sake. Amen!