Happy 20th Birthday Need For Speed!
Can you believe it? It’s been 20 years. A whole twenty years of racing. A whole twenty years of putting your foot down, roaring past your opponents and blinding speeds. A whole twenty years of beating your arch nemesis in a car so elegant, you will never afford it in real life. A whole twenty years since an entirely new form of racing video game was born. Many other have tried, and failed, to be where Need for Speed is. So today, Electronic Arts and Team NFS celebrate 20 years.
Need for Speed all started on the PlayStation One all the way back in 1994. As simple and rough as those little polygons were, this was the beginning of a bright future for a new gaming franchise. At the time, there were dozens of other racers but NFS stood out form the crowd with licensed vehicles, a degree of realism, cinematic qualities, and incredible gameplay. These founding principles only expanded and grew as gaming systems did the same. NFS found itself on just about every single gaming platform from then on.
The car roster grew.The tracks grew. The game play grew. Harder, faster, more detailed. And, of course, police vehicles and their enforcement tech was built into the game. Polygons became more defined. Realistic attributes were added. Customization and adjustments were made. Need for Speed was unstoppable. For me, I got into the franchise with Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 and Need for speed Underground. When those two games hit the market, the power of the Sony PlayStation 2 was harnessed, allowing for unprecedented gameplay and a combination of visuals graphics and audio quality. For Hot Pursuit, the thrill of negotiating traffic at 100mph with the cops on your tail was a lot of fun while NFS: Underground provided a firmer, believable, yet stylistic approach to urban street racing. The series soon became known for style, intensity, and the element of fighting for the top. Underscoring this was each games incredible music selection.
For all it’s popularity though, no franchise is perfect. Need for Speed did hit a a few speed bumps with NFS: Pro-Street and NFS: Undercover. Some had doubted the series relevance, especially in the wake of other racing games such as Turn 10’s Forza series for Microsoft. However, in 2009, EA focused its attention with Criterion Games, the founders of the Burnout series, and rebooted the entire franchise with an unbelievable array of visual fidelity, roaring audio variety and car gameplay that simply raises your pulse. Since 2009, Need for speed has had 5 of these newly designed games including Need for Speed: Shift, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed Shift 2, Need for Speed: The Run, Need for Speed : Most Wanted, and Need for Speed: Rivals. Some of those accomplishments include the world’s first socially integrated video game, where internal Facebook like system was established to keep the competition on-going around the clock. It was called the “Auto-log” system, which is active and on-going in every NFS game since 2009. Recently, NFS Rivals merged online multiplayer and single player into one continuous game.
For the first time in the history, the franchise will miss a release this year of 2014. However, this is in preparation for a much larger and more ambitious entry in the franchise, as the next generation rolls along. To celebrate this occasion, EA has released a special video below. Here’s to another twenty years, Need for Speed.