It might sound strange, but I’m a speed freak. And when I say speed freak, it means I love fast cars. The thrill of rushing through traffic lights and pedestrians give an overwhelming feeling. While I don’t get to do that in real life, I am already contented with my racing games in my PC or in PlayStation 3. And with racing games, Need for Speed eventually comes into everyone’s minds.
The Need for Speed franchise is perhaps one of the most popular, if not the most discouraging racing game franchise in the gaming industry. Ever since its titular release in 1994, Need for Speed have release many versions of its famous race simulation games. Back then, you’ll have to choose the cars you wanted to drive, choose a full set of parts and gear for your car and you are set to race. But in the year 2003, Need for Speed finally took a turn to one of its best moments in race gaming history.
When Need for Speed: Underground was released, everyone wanted a copy of it, literally. I remembered lining up inside a store just to get it. It was the first time that Need for Speed incorporated car customization, which happens to be the only reason why I love playing the game in the first place! Pimping up your ride has never been this cool with the old racing games. And then in 2004, Need for Speed: Underground 2 came out and public response was positive. The game sold over 4 million copies and is now listed as a best seller by PlayStation, Xbox and Game Cube.
Unfortunately, Need for Speed’s success was relatively short-lived. After NFS Underground 2, the other Need for Speed games weren’t as popular as their predecessors were. NFS Most Wanted and NFS Carbon did garner decent attention, but the popularity of the series was waning.
It’s disappointing to see a good game lose its popularity because of a number of factors that could have easily been prevented. Some of the factors are:
When Need for Speed Underground and Underground 2 came out, some of the critics mentioned the name of several products in real life that wasn’t, in any way, related to racing or car customization. For example, Cingular was simply introduced in Underground 2 as a mobile communication device. That was it. If the developers learned from such a mistake, they should have made steps in order to prevent such mistakes. Surprise, surprise; when ProStreet came out, the car was filled with so many product decals that critics mentioned it as “a commercial failure of a game”.
Police chases were added in NFS Most Wanted and it made the game more realistic. Unfortunately, when NFS Carbon came out next, the developers did little to no change with the police car chases. In fact, it’s gotten fairly easier to dodge police cars just by simply “bumping” into a nearest gas station. Sure, the flames and the explosions are cool, but that can’t replace a good old realistic police chase.
It made everything worse when ProStreet decided to let go of the whole police chase thing. As for NFS Undercover, never mind. You work for the police; that took out all the fun!
While there are other racing games available in the gaming industry today, it’s no doubt that Need for Speed can still make a whole lot of improvements for their next racing games to come. I do hope they finally realize their mistakes and make something that will make every racing fan screaming in fun while playing with their computers or consoles.