Need for Speed - SuperCheats Top Five of the Game Series

Whether you consider yourself Old School or New School, a Shooter Gamer or a Puzzle Fiend -- or you decline to have a label of any sort attached to you -- there is an easy to understand reason for all that labeling, and it is not simply because gamers suffer from OCD.

Starting very early in the home video game console frenzy of the 1990s the different game studios attempted to build communities around their games -- which if you think about it could not have been an easy challenge when you pause to consider that there was (1) no World Wide Web as we know it today; and (2) the satellite TV networks had yet to identify gamers as a significant consumer demographic and target market.

In the end what the studios and the very clever code wizards who worked in them creating games did was focus upon creating quality video game series' with an eye towards encouraging the gamers to become fans and immerse themselves in the manufactured universe -- and stories -- of the series.

One of the most successful game series to emerge from this period mostly-intact was the Need for Speed franchise, which appeared on the gaming scene around the same time that the World Wide Web was starting to pick up speed.

The first game in the series -- and the one that established its name -- was 1994's Need for Speed, which was initially released for the 3DO platform.

NFS was so popular with gamers at the time that within two short years it was ported to PC DOS (1995), and then Sony's PlayStation and Sega's Saturn (1996).

Considering that even then PC DOS was not the platform you would think of first for a racing game, it should come as no surprise that the first game in the series was the only one to include PC DOS in its supported platforms list - the games that followed pretty much required Windows to be played after that.

The thing that made NFS stand out -- remember that was a period in gaming history when pretty much everyone was making arcade-style racing games -- was that it was NOT an arcade-style racing game!

In fact that first Need for Speed title not only took the whole racing science thing seriously, it was one of the first racing games to take the racing physics approach to the genre and make it work.

That unique approach to the genre really does deserve some additional attention, because it devoted the sort of intense interest and commitment to racing that did not become widely popular until ten full years later, and the release of the first Forza Motorsports title.

Establishing Industry Standards

So yeah, ten years before Forza turned the racing simulation into an art form, the folks at Electronic Arts had already blazed that path like squinty-eyed auto-racing assassins, sporting just the right patches on their Nomex racing suits before they were cool. Just saying.

The first indication that EA was taking the whole process seriously was when word leaked out that they had hooked up with auto magazine Road & Track, who helped to chart out the sort of feel and behavior that each individual car should provide -- and not just the distinct sound of the individual engines by model, or the sound their transmission and shift boxes make when changing gears, though they did include that too.

In addition to the sound effects, Road & Track helped EA work out how each car should drive -- from its handling characteristics to which direction they tend to edge towards when the hammer goes down.

Technical stuff in other words, and they applied standards so high that one reviewer for a major games publication (back in those dark days there were still paper-based monthly video game magazines) declared the game 'Auto-Porn' -- and he sort of had a point.

Another element for the games that is now a very familiar feature (but back in the day was not so much) was its inclusion of detailed data and trivia about each individual model of car.

The game included spoken commentary and a selection of photos celebrating both the interior and exterior of each car of the sort one expects to find in a car magazine, not in a video game.

Among the other firsts that EA more or less pioneered with NFS was the pairing of video CS footage and music together, which in addition to bestowing a sort of implied flavor to each individual car, established a personalization approach that later became the industry standard.

Depending upon how you look at it, this approach was clearly before its time, but EA managed to make it work for the NFS games. Other titles that appeared and copied -- or rather attempted to copy -- the Need for Speed formula failed miserably.

In fact it wasn't until first the GT series, and then Forza firmly embraced the approach of celebrating the cars as objects of art worthy of worship that the standard finally became industry-wide.

Still it must be a heady feeling indeed to be one of the developers from the original team and see all of those neat and unique elements that you introduced to the racing genre become the industry standard for it.

Top Five of the Game Series

This is the first feature article in our new 'Top Five of the Series' line, so it is rather fitting that Need for Speed is the first game series we chose. After all, it is rather well known as being the source of a significant number of firsts and, as noted above, helped to introduce features that would later become industry standard for the genre.

The underlying theme in this new line is to celebrate the best five games of a long-running video game series, but not using the usual criteria that most Top X lists use. We could do that in what? Eight paragraphs or so? We could, but it would hardly be interesting to you, our readers, who we know want to be entertained when you read about the best of the best in a series.

Just to be clear here, while celebrating the best of the best of a series is the point to this new line of features, we are also hoping to encourage gamers to re-discover older titles or, even more gratifying, discover these titles for the first time if you were not an active member of the gaming community during their glory days!

So with that in mind, here are the Top Five of the Series for Need for Speed.

Posted: 27th Jan 2014 by CMBF
Need for Speed: Most Wanted,