Need for Speed (abbreviation: NFS) is a multiplatform racing video game series, with the main installments being developed by EA Canada, EA Black Box, later Criterion Games and Slightly Mad Studios. On August 31, 1994 the first title in the series The Need for Speed was released. Twenty-two titles have been released so far. On October 21, 2009 the franchise has sold over 100 million units, making Need for Speed the most commercially successful racing game of all time.
The early NFS titles mostly focused on street racing with sports cars in various settings. The Need for Speed(1994) was mainly concentrated on semi-realistic driving with different sports cars. Need for Speed II (1996) however, shifted its focus to a more arcade experience and featured ultra rare exotics. Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998) reformed the series, by introducing a highly complex cops vs racers concept, allowing players to play on both sides of the law.
High Stakes (1999) was technically very similar to its prequel, but also added performance and visual tuning options. In 2000, Porsche Unleashed was released, which solely featured Porsche cars from the 1950s to the millenium. The game also emphasised realistic driving, took less focus on pursuits and introduced the Factory Driver mode, which allowed the player to work as test driver for Porsche AG.
2002 saw the release of Hot Pursuit 2, which is the direct successor to the original Hot Pursuit. Both games didn't include mechanical damage. The PS2 version of Hot Pursuit 2 was developed by EA Black Box. From then, Black Box created most of the titles including Underground (2003).
Unlike the first six NFS games, Underground's races solely took place in a fictional American city. Exotics were replaced with a roster consisting of Japanese and European compacts and sports cars. Police chases were also dropped.
Due to Underground's enormous success, Underground 2 (2004) came out. For the first time, a Free Roam Mode was added, which allowed the player to freely drive around the city. Extended tuning options, dyno runs, and test courses were also introduced.
On November 16, 2005, Need for Speed: Most Wanted was released in the North American market. Most Wanted reintroduced high-speed police chases and supercars, yet still retained some of Underground's encompassing tuning. Unlike the Underground series, Most Wanted only took place in daytime. Carbon was released a year later, which completely adopted Most Wanted's pursuit system and appended more tuning options.
ProStreet (2007) was Black Box's attempt at a realistic trimmed racing game with mechancial damage. Races only ocurred in daytime again and no longer took place in public streets, but in closed race courses. As the title performed poor on sales and received negative receptions, Undercover (2008) was released, that shifted its focus to street racing once again.
In 2009, another simulation racing game was released, but developed by Slightly Mad Studios called Shift (2009). Shift was absent from street racing and re-imported closed race tracks. At the same year Need for Speed: World Beta was launched, which is a MMORG based on Most Wanted's and Carbon's free roam maps. World was released worldwide in 2010.
2010 signaled the release of Criterion Games' first Need for Speed installment - Hot Pursuit (2010). The game concentrated on the same gameplay concept of the first six NFS titles and introduced the Autolog social network, which since became a substantial feature in the series.
Like 2010, two Need for Speed games were introduced in 2011, with the first one being Shift 2: Unleashed. Again developed by Slightly Mad Studios, Shift 2 featured a more realistic handling than its predecessor and added more tuning choices like engine swaps.
On November 15th, 2011 The Run was released, which was the final Need for Speed title from Black Box. Unlike Black Box's previous games, The Run had been in development for three years. It focused on illegal street racing within rural and urban areas in the USA with an influential story line.
Criterion's Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) was released on October 30th, 2012 in North America and November 1st, 2012 in Europe. Its focus was on delivering a completely sandbox open-world with the introduction of features like speed cameras and billboards while retaining the concept of 2005's Most Wanted.
In 2013, Criterion Games and Ghost Games collaborated to create Need for Speed: Rivals. It was released on November 15th for PlayStation 4 in North America. It was subsequently followed by PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release on November 19th, 2013. Xbox One and European PlayStation 4 release followed on November 22nd and 29th respectively. Rivals introduced the AllDrive feature, merging Singleplayer and Multiplayer into one seamless experience.
- The Need for Speed
- Need for Speed II
- Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
- Need for Speed: High Stakes
- Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
- Need for Speed: Underground
- Need for Speed: Underground 2
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted
- Need for Speed: Carbon
- Need for Speed: ProStreet
- Need for Speed: Undercover
- Need for Speed: Shift
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)
- Shift 2: Unleashed
- Need for Speed: The Run
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
- Need for Speed: Rivals
- Need for Speed (2015)
- Need for Speed: Underground Rivals
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0
- Need for Speed Carbon: Own the City
- The Need for Speed title is a reference to a movie quote in Top Gun (1986).
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted has sold 16 million units and is the best selling game in the franchise.
- The first two games in the V-Rally franchise were sold with the Need for Speed title in North America but are not a part of the Need for Speed series.