|The almighty NFS2SE splash screen|
Need for Speed 2 SE was awesome. You had dreamcars that raced through fantastic places all over the world at insane high speeds. The cars were divided over 3 classes: A, B and C. If you were good at racing a campaign or a knockout (or you just used cheat codes) you could earn 3 fantasy cars and even a bonus track. I know that the rewards for winning a race are slightly higher nowadays, but that was how it was then. That said, you can't find cheat codes to unlock things nowadays.
Every track had some kind of wow factor. You would race on a rope bridge and past a plane-wreck in the Himalayas, into a volcano in the jungle, past the landmarks of Sydney in Australia, through tiny villages while making insane jumps in Greece and much more. There was even a tunnel on the speed-ring track (proving grounds, for those who played it) with some glowing pipes which were there for no reason but to make the track look cooler. The most awesome track was the bonus track in Hollywood. There were prop-dinosaurs, a future dystopia set and a straight part of road racing through what looks like star wars! And that was before the dreadful episode 1!
|And there was always the cheat to drive|
a school bus
Knowing EA and since NFS2SE put Need for Speed on the radar, you might think that NFS3:hot pursuit (not the one coming out this year) improved on that and made the series even more awesome for me. Short answer: no. NFS3 made the series more popular than ever before by adding police pursuits in the mix where you could play the police. Yet, they dumbed down their tracks AND their cars. The dreamcars were replaced with just expensive cars while the unlockables were now the dreamcars and not the fantasy cars. Instead of 8 different tracks in places all over the world they stuck to 4 tracks with 2 different layouts making 8 tracks total only in places in the USA. The ferrari 355 went from class C in NFS2 to class B in NFS3 while the car stayed the same. The tracks were boring! There was one tracks which main feature was just being snowed (summit, if you really want to know). Where you drove through a volcano and Hollywood in NFS2, the best thing they came up with in NFS3 was a dinosaur skeleton and the EA building. The EA building! Did those people never hear of hubris? Ofcourse NFS3 got more famous, so I stand in the wrong here.
To me it only went downhill from there. The follow-up to NFS3, 'high stakes' or 'road challenge' depending on where you live, introduced other countries again along with more 'just expensive cars' like BMW. For some reason the game always crashes when I boot it, so I never got to play it. The follow up to that was 'porsche 2000', a need for speed with only one kind of 'just expensive car'.
|The Jaguar XJ220 does pass the test, though.|
The best example of my problem with Need for Speed (apart from the catch-up system which I will discuss some other time) came with NFS: Most Wanted. In the game you can mod your cars and challenge people from the 'black list'. Ofcourse the Asian driver drove a modded Toyota which came with 2 other unmodded Toyota's as escort. EA got the licences for those cars so they got money for product placement and I played Most Wanted 4 years after its release. That made those cars literally last year's Toyota's. I know soccermoms driving those cars! The cut-scene was meant to intimidate, but already a couple of years after its release it looked immensely stupid.
|Last year's McLaren F1... Hell yeah!|