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Video Game: Need for Speed
aka: Needfor Speed

Need for Speed (NFS) is a long-running and popular series of Racing Games published by Electronic Arts focusing on illegal street racing. Started out initially with exotic supercars and then moving to tuner car racing, probably as a result of the latter coming into fashion with the release of The Fast and the Furious in 2001, with free-roaming environments added to the gameplay formula. After a few years with one developer and their tuner focus, they went back to mostly exotics years later with an added focus on online social gameplay. The franchise is notable for being available for computers as well as consoles throughout its run, as well as being EA's oldest continually-running franchise not under the EA Sports brand.

Games (and The Movie) in the series include (defined by eras):note 

    First era: Exotics and cops 
The games in the franchise's earliest era are simply racing exotic cars in scenic locations, with the added element of police car chases (which is what the series is best-known for) in most installments. EA Canada and EA Seattle made most of the games in this era, though EA Black Box made the last classic NFS game before they overhauled the series' identity. The Need for Speed logo for this era used a big, thick, metallic typeface and were later rereleased together in a 2003 PC-only compilation package called The Need for Speed Collection, save for the first game of course.
  • Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (1994): Contained point-to-point open road tracks and several closed racetracks. The open roads featured AI traffic and police cars that chased the player. Was originally released on the 3DO console, and was later ported to the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and DOS PC in 1996 when the 3DO flopped. The PC version of the game, Need for Speed SE (the "SE" meaning Special Edition), added a few new cars and tracks as well. Developed by EA Canada who would develop all of the ensuing games until the Motor City Online spinoff.
  • Need for Speed II (1997): Expanded on the car selection of the original with several contemporary concept cars, like the Ford Indigo and Ford GT90. The McLaren F1, then the world's fastest production car and still the fastest naturally-aspirated car, made its first franchise appearance in this game. The game abandoned open road courses for arcade circuits. PC Gamer criticized many of the tracks' extravagant and unrealistic scenery, comparing many of them to being akin to driving on magic mushrooms. NFS II also had a special edition release for the PC, which added some new cars, a new track and 3Dfx Glide support.
  • Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998): Re-introduced the police chases from the first game, and improved the AI system, with each racer having different driving habits. The PC version provided the option to play as the police and catch speeders. Also, the PC version was the first NFS that was easily modded with add-on cars, as well as the first to have official Downloadable Content. One of the highlights of the series, according to fans. The Lamborghini Diablo SVnote  made its franchise (and arguably video game) debut in this game.
  • Need for Speed: High Stakes (1999): Similar to Hot Pursuit, but with a career mode. The High Stakes name referred to sudden death races where the winner wins the loser's car. This game introduced damage models that affected appearance and performance to vehicles in the series. The PC version is basically a Mission Pack Sequel to Hot Pursuit, because it also included all nine tracks from the previous game, while the PlayStation version didn't have those tracks. Known as Need for Speed: Road Challenge in Europe.
  • Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (2000): Consisted purely of Porsche road cars, from 1948 to 2000. Featured more realistic physics than previous games. Another shining moment from the series. The PC version is notable for being the last game in the series developed by EA Canada. Eden Studios made the PlayStation version, which has several differences compared to the PC version, especially tracks. Known as Need for Speed: Porsche 2000 in Europe and simply Need for Speed: Porsche in Germany and Latin America.
    • Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (Game Boy Advance, 2004): A portable version released four years after the original game, developed by Pocketeers, but not published by EA.note  Surprisingly for a third-party GBA game, it's 3D-rendered. Received much more mixed reviews than the originals, though only a few critics reviewed it.
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (2002): Similar to the original Hot Pursuit, but with more and bigger tracks, more cars, and more race types. Was the last game in the series to focus on exotic cars for nearly a decade. Also, until a 2010 content download for Shift (see Cool Car, below) and later on Rivals, it was the last game in the series to have cars from Ferrari. Most of the other games up to this point, except for MCO and Porsche Unleashed, had at least one Ferrari. The PlayStation 2 version was also the first NFS game by EA Black Box, who would become the new main Need for Speed developer for the next several years, while all the other platforms' combined version was the last NFS game by EA Seattle.

    Second era: Tuner culture and open world racing 
With EA Black Box taking control, the franchise focused more on the tuner car culture with a heavy focus on illegal street racing (save for ProStreet, which had organized race events), aftermarket customization, and cheesy storylines to boot. Police chases would not return until 2005's Most Wanted. Games in this era can be identified by the sleeker logo with the elongated tail in the letter S for Speed, except for Undercover which brought in the series' current 'N' logo and typeface that's seen in the image above. In some regards, this era is what arcade racing game fans think of when NFS is mentioned. The first three games were also rereleased in a Collector's Series bundle in 2006 for PlayStation 2 and PC.
  • Need for Speed: Underground (2003): Changed the format of the series from exotic cars on open road tracks to street racing with tuner cars. It introduced a storyline, car customization, drifting events, nitrous oxide systems, and (ignoring MCO) drag races. The game takes place in a city called Olympic City.
  • Need for Speed: Underground 2 (2004): Similar to the original Underground, but with a free-roaming city called Bayview. The game added a few new race modes, such as "Outrun" events in free roam where players have to beat another driver on the streets using any route they want by one thousand feet (three hundred meters), and "Street X", which were tight, nitrous-free, circuit-style races. Plus, new aftermarket parts including stereos and spinning rims were added to the game. Also for what it's worth, it's the first NFS title with playable SUVs, which had their own exclusive events in the game. A Nintendo DS version was released in 2005 with the ability to create custom decals using the system's touch screen.
    • Need for Speed: Underground Rivals (2005): A version of Underground 2 for PSP that's closer to the first Underground as it lacks an open world. Introduced muscle cars to the vehicle lineup.
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted (2005): Similar to Underground 2, featuring muscle cars and exotics in addition to tuner cars while focusing on the re-introduced staple of the series: the police chases. Due to being thematically a lot less flashy than the Underground games, the visual customization for the cars is limited, dropping the purely visual options like the neon lights. The iconic blue-and-white BMW M3 GTR (E46) debuted in this game. The locale in this game is named Rockport, where the player tries to become #1 on the "Blacklist", the fifteen best racers in the city. The well-received game was also one of the Xbox 360's launch titles, which made it an early Killer App for the platform. To this day, several NFS fans point to this game as the series' highest point.
    • Need for Speed: Most Wanted 5-1-0 (2005): A version made for PSP that also lacks an open world as well as a plot. Contains a mode called Tuner Takedown that allowed players to play as a police officer for one of the few times in this era.
  • Need for Speed: Carbon (2006): A more story-driven street racing game, with the player recruiting drivers to their "crew". The highlight feature was the touge-inspired canyon races, which wound down narrow, twisting mountain roads, and the greatest danger was often driving off a cliff. Aftermarket customization also returned in full force with the "Autosculpt" feature, which allowed a greater degree of part customization. Takes place in a city called Palmont City.
    • Need for Speed Carbon: Own the City (2006): A portable version made for the PSP, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance that takes place in a different locale called Coast City (which is really just Most Wanted's Rockport without the Camden Beach district and a few other changes) with a different storyline compared to the main game above.
  • Need for Speed: ProStreet (2007): Themed around organized race days with no illegal street racing. Switched to a more realistic handling model, and was so widely criticized for it that even EA admitted that this one was "not good".
  • Need for Speed: Undercover (2008): Returned to the Most Wanted model of focusing on illegal street racing, with a The Fast and the Furious-style storyline. The game takes in a large locale called the Tri-City Bay. It was trashed by critics for its bad frame rate, its cheesy storyline, and for being not as good as Rockstar Games' Midnight Club: Los Angeles and EA's other arcade-style racing game from 2008, Burnout Paradise. Pretty much sullied EA Black Box's reputation with the series.

    Third era: Developer shuffling and social racing 
After the failures that were ProStreet and Undercover, EA put Black Box on the sidelines and brought in several developers to make games for the series. The series lost a consistent identity during this era, save for a new speedometer-inspired franchise logo and typeface that Undercover introduced and the introduction of the Autolog networking system in 2010's Hot Pursuit. Two differently-styled NFS games were released each year in this short time period, but a few of this era's games (namely the Shift sub-series and Hot Pursuit) did help return the franchise to critical acclaim. However, as the series' YMMV page will explain, the fanbase became pretty fractured during these years.
  • Need for Speed: Shift (2009): Another crack at realistic racing, from Slightly Mad Studios (an independent development team composed of people who worked on GTR, GTR2, and GT Legends, a trio of well-received PC sim racers), with help from EA Black Box. Much better received than Undercover. A Xbox 360-exclusive DLC pack marked Ferrari's only appearance in any of the second and third era games until the make's full return in 2013's Rivals.
  • Need for Speed: Nitro (2009): An arcade-like racer for the Wii and DS, with highly-stylized cartoonish graphics. The Wii version was developed by EA Montreal while the DS version was made by Firebrand Games.
    • Need for Speed: Nitro-X (2010): A DSiWare version of the original DS game.
  • Need for Speed: World (2010): Another attempt at a NFS MMO, this one is free-to-play, featuring microtransactions for the 'premium' version of in-game currency. Features the cityscapes from Most Wanted and Carbon (Rockport and Palmont, which may also be connected to the Tri-City Bay from Undercover via a toll bridge) in a persistent MMO environment, not unlike Test Drive Unlimited. Developed by EA Black Box (later rebranded as Quicklime Games) and EA Singapore, it received middle-of-the-road reviews. Players start off with $35,000 to buy a starter car and begin racing against other players and the game's AI. Borrowing from the leveling mechanics found in Hot Pursuit 2010, you earn money and reputation for winning, which you can use to buy upgrades in the form of after-market parts to adjust your stats. As you level up, you unlock new tiers of cars and events you can participate in. Other features include Pursuit Outrun, where the player must outrun the local police, Team Escape, where you and your team must beat the clock to avoid getting arrested, and Drag, based off the classic Underground/Most Wanted Drag events. After Quicklime Games' demise, EAsy Studios took over, but very few major developments were made to the game since.
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010): The first game in the series developed by Criterion Games, the EA studio behind the Burnout franchise, is a Spiritual Successor to Hot Pursuit 2 (of course), and features some online-focused "race and chase" gameplay, either through multiplayer or the then-new "Autolog" system that continuously compares your best times to those of your friends and challenges you to beat your friends' times. It takes place in a not-exactly-open-world environmentnote  called Seacrest County. This installment is often heralded by critics as the series's highest point.
    • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (Wii, 2010): The Wii version of the game was developed by Exient Entertainment. It is wildly different from the Criterion-developed versions. It takes place in four different real world locations and plays more like Nitro than the HD versions, but without most of the cartoon stylizations of the former. This version was mostly panned by the few critics who played it.
  • Shift 2: Unleashed (2011): After the success of Need for Speed: Shift, it's not too surprising to learn that EA gave Slightly Mad Studios another go-around and green-lit Shift 2, this time without input from Black Box. Unusual lack of Need for Speed in the title aside, the handling model is massively improved from the first Shift, and the Autolog feature from Hot Pursuit returned as well.
  • Need for Speed: The Run (2011): Featuring The Cannonball Run-style coast-to-coast Epic Race across the United States with a heavy emphasis on story and cinematic action. The plot's kind of Excuse-y, but just know that Sean Faris gets some advice from Christina Hendricks about a 3000-mile race that he can use to win $25 million, enough to pay back a crime syndicate he had a bad run-in with. It was meant to be EA Black Box's redemption after losing control over the series post-Undercover, but with less than stellar reviews, this was not the case.

    Fourth era: Move to Europe, social racing 2.0, and the silver screen 
It was clear from The Run that EA Black Box would not be taking back back control of Need for Speed, and EA shifted development of the games to developers in Europe. The current NFS era is still young, with Rivals introducing yet another new typeface (which curiously looks similar to the first era's typeface). With Autolog 2.0 by its side the franchise seemed to be (mostly) returning to its roots, racing (mostly) exotic cars in scenic locations with the franchise's famed police car chases, but with the mixed reception of 2013's Rivals from both critics and consumers, EA and new series developer Ghost Games had to reevaluate how they're going to handle NFS in the future. (See the entries for Rivals and the Need for Speed film.)
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted — A Criterion Game (2012):note  Criterion's second game in the series, a reboot of 2005's Most Wanted. This reboot is much less like a sequel to the 2005 original and more like a sequel to Burnout Paradise, but with cops, real licensed cars, a pseudo-realistic handling model, and the Autolog system. Takes place in a locale called Fairhaven City, differing from the first Most Wanted's Rockport. It also marked the beginning of a new era for the series, as then-Criterion vice president Alex Ward has stated in an interview, "It's not going to be spread anymore across different companies. Different studios have had a crack at it - it's definitely a Criterion gig now." Well, except that it wasn't really the case. (See the next main entry.)
    • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Mobile, 2012): Developed by Firemonkeys Studios, a company formed from a merger between Firemintnote  and IronMonkey Studios,note  it is a version of Most Wanted 2012 for iOS and Android that, unlike the main versions, takes place in closed circuits around Fairhaven. It includes a few cars not found in the Criterion game, including the Audi R8 GT Coupe, the Hummer H1 Alpha, and even (initially before the release of NFS Heroes on the main versions) the BMW M3 GTR (E46) from Most Wanted 2005 as the #1 Most Wanted car.note 
    • Need for Speed: Most Wanted U (2013): The Wii U version of the game, which is graphically superior to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions and contains a unique feature called Co-Driver, which allows a second player to join in using the Wii U GamePad to change many things in Fairhaven and enable dual controls, in case the person using the Wii Remote or Wii U Pro Controller is having trouble. The Ultimate Speed Pack is included in the game as standard and there are Nintendo-related Easter Eggs to be found. However, none of the later DLCnote  were released for Most Wanted U and there is only a six-player limit in multiplayer compared to eight in the other console versions and twelve on the PC version.
  • Need for Speed Rivals (2013): It is a Spiritual Successor to Hot Pursuit 2010 while integrating single-player and multiplayer together, meaning you can play as a cop and stop other players street races while co-operating with other cop players for example. Ferrari returns to the series once more since the content pack from Shift after four years. It is developed by new EA studio Ghost Games with assistance from Criterion. With this game, Need for Speed made yet another developer shift, and Ghost Games are now the new developers for the franchise. However, they too may have suffered layoffs of their own, with the next title's development stopped.
    • Need for Speed Rivals: Complete Edition (2014): A rerelease of the game with all its DLC packs packed-in: Ferrari Edition Special Complete Pack, Simply Jaguar Complete Pack, Concept Lamborghini Complete Pack, the Koenigsegg One:1 (which was released for free in the standard version), Complete Movie Pack, and the Loaded Garage Pack.note  This is really to make up for the lack of a new NFS title in 2014 as explained below.
  • Need for Speed (2014): The Movie adaptation of the franchise directed by Scott Waugh and starring Aaron Paul that was released in March 2014. Got mostly bad reviews from critics and didn't do great in the North American box office, but did very well internationally. The film is the only totally new Need for Speed-related thing in 2014 (its twentieth anniversary no less), as EA has no plans to release a new, original NFS game within the year; the first time in over a decade since they haven't done so.

    Spin-offs: Need for Speed In Name Only 
  • Need for Speed: V-Rally (1997) and Need for Speed: V-Rally II (1999): The American market branding of V-Rally, an unrelated rally racing title made by the French developer Eden Studios and published overseas by Infogrames. V-Rally 3 would be published without the NFS branding in 2002. Eden Studios would also develop the PlayStation version of Porsche Unleashed and the very old-school-NFS-like Test Drive Unlimited.
  • Motor City Online (2001): An attempt at a driving MMOG, developed in house by EA, and first game not developed by EA Canada. This game focused entirely on American cars, particularly muscle cars, from The Thirties through The Seventies (until the very end, when the Toyota Supra and the Mitsubishi Eclipse were added, presumably to broaden appeal). Despite not having the NFS branding, it was considered to be a NFS game by EA and fans of the series, and was even originally planned as Need for Speed: Motor City. It was largely unsuccessful, and was shut down in 2004.

I want every single trope after the series.

  • Arch Enemies: "Zephyr" and "F-8",note  respectively the racer and the cop the player play as in Rivals.
  • A Taste of Power: Underground starts In Medias Res with a Bonus Car with nitrous, Underground 2 starts with a borrowed tuned car, Most Wanted starts with a powerful BMW M3 that is sabotaged and lost in a bet, and Carbon starts with you thrashing that same BMW.
    • Defied in Hot Pursuit 2010. A starter cop mission gives you a Lamborghini Reventon, and things don't get worse from there. Mind you, Hot Pursuit 2010 absolutely loves this trope, heck, fairly early in the game (whichever side of the law you are on), you're gonna get a preview of a handful of cars you won't be driving for a while. The best examples include the McLaren F1, Pagani Zonda Cinque, Corvette ZR1 and the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. All of which can be unlocked after a few hours of playing.
      • Yes, the Veyron and the Koenigsegg CCXR are the last two cars you'll unlock.
    • Defied again in the single-player mode of Most Wanted 2012 with the Jack Spots. All cars in the game are immediately drivable after you complete a quick-and-easy tutorial race and find where each of them are on the map (except for the titular "Most Wanted" cars and any non-purchased DLC cars).
    • In Rivals, one of the later Speedlists/Assignments will give you the keys to a powerful car from the opposite side of the law (the Enzo Ferrari for Cops and the Koenigsegg Agera R for Racers) with fully-leveled preset Pursuit Tech.
  • A Winner Is You: Appears in Hot Pursuit 2010, when the player clears all of the offline missions for one side.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Inverted in Porsche Unleashed. If you bought a used car, repaired it, and sold it, you would make a profit every single time. There was also an infinite supply of used Porsches as well, meaning that you could have all the money you wanted for the price of grinding the menus.
  • Allegedly Free Game: World has a pretty bad case of this. It relies on the classic trick of a two-tiered currency system, with one tier being in-game money and the other, SpeedBoost, requiring you to pay real money. You can still go anywhere in the in-game world you'd like and play any events so long as you have the car for it, but SpeedBoost is required to get most of the best cars, card packs, and so on.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Sure that light blue police Gallardo 560-4 in Hot Pursuit 2010 is cool and all, but that car actually exists in Italy as an interceptor unit.
    • Same case with the Bugatti Veyron - in fact, several other exotics and high-end vehicles were also deployed in Dubai's already lavish police fleet.
  • Always Night: Every race in Underground was at night, which was Justified given the illegal street racing that made up the game.
    • Inverted in Most Wanted 2005, which features a sped-up day/night cycle in the game world. It starts at sunrise, lasts through midday (sometimes with a rainstorm or three to mess with your car during races), ends with the sun setting on the horizon... and loops right back to sunrise. Its sequel Carbon goes back to playing the trope straight, though.
  • Anachronism Stew: A subtle but noticeable one in Hot Pursuit 2010 is an F-14 Tomcat that likes to fly-by every now and then near Memorial Highway. Though not a particular source of frustration, it's still has some of the fans that are well-versed in aviation crying afoul because the game more or less takes place Twenty Minutes into the Future and that the plane in question has been out of service since 2006.
  • Announcer Chatter: And police chatter in the games that have them. Very much a necessity in Most Wanted where you can keep track of their movements.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In The Run, you can restart from the latest checkpoint if/when you either wreck your car, or you've lost that particular segment of the race. You can do this at will, too, up to certain times depending on the difficulty.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The PC version of High Stakes demonstrates some pretty fancy artificial intelligence that is usually unnoticed by a lot of players.
    • In Classic and Time Trap modes, the police react to the first call of them engaging pursuit with a speeder - usually the next unit up the road will lay out a roadblock or spike strip to hopefully intercept them.
    • The police helicopter plays a big part in Getaway mode, and is a minor convenience in other modes. In Getaway if they spot the speeder (if they're not hiding in a tunnel), they will call out them out, all the police AI react and start swarming towards the location and the speeder's location will appear on the radar.
  • Artificial Stupidity: It is possible in Most Wanted 2005 to get arrested for doing under the speed limit on the correct side of the road and get maybe one infraction. Who knew you could get arrested for pulling over to the side of the road for what should be a routine traffic stop? Must be that if your character is behind the wheel of any vehicle, he should be arrested on sight.
    • Actually, that's exactly what's going on. Cross pretty explicitly says he's just looking for a reason to toss you in jail and strip your car down looking for something not-street legal (and chances are that most of the stuff in there isn't) and if he can't find anything, he'll make something up. You're a known street racer, and he'll do whatever it takes to get you locked up.
    • The police chopper in Hot Pursuit 2010. For some reason, it prefers to navigate between spike drop points by flying along the roads with all their twists and turns, instead of simply flying straight over the terrain.
    • The traffic AI's IQ in Most Wanted 2012 is downright idiotic under the right circumstances. It cannot understand the concept of driving around crashed cars, instead preferring to stop for a moment, then drive straight into them. On the off chance that it does go around a crashed car, it will only manage to do so after repeatedly backing up, changing directions slightly, and driving forward again, which usually results in hitting the crashed car a few times more. This can result in massive pileups, as car after car tries to plow straight through a mounting pile of traffic.
  • Ascended Extra: Somewhat of an example, as prior to the Mazda Miata being drivable in Underground, Bland Name Products of the car could be seen as traffic in earlier games.
  • Beat: In Hot Pursuit 2010, the police dialogue on screen literally says {BEAT} whenever there's a pause between sentences during the same dialogue clip.
  • Benevolent Architecture: some of those cities look like racetracks with houses.
  • Big Bad: In the Underground Era and in The Run. In order:
    • Underground: Eddie
    • Underground 2: Caleb Reece
    • Most Wanted: Clarence "Razor" Callahan
    • Carbon: Darius
    • ProStreet: Ryo Watanabe
    • Undercover: Chase Linh
    • The Run: Marcus Blackwell
  • Bilingual Bonus: Road Challenge Hot Pursuit mode (the police chase mode) had an option to use 'local police'. This gave full localised voices for the dispatch and driver voice-overs. On the British circuit, the British Police talk with English accents. The French and German circuits go one step further - they even talk in the right language, not just a faux accent.
    • Averted for the english police, driving a Victoria police Holden has the police sound more like they're from Heartbeat than Blue Heelers.
  • Bowdlerize: The songs by Hot Action Cop which were featured in Hot Pursuit 2 had their lyrics changed so they're racing-themed rather than sex-themed.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Underground had the Bonus Cars, untuned cars with awesome vinyls.
  • Brand X: Not done directly, but is played with in Most Wanted and Carbon. Cars which aren't sold in America (such as the Fiat Punto, Renault Clio V6, Vauxhall Monaro VXR etc.) are simply referred to as "sports cars" over police radio chatter, where as others are called out by their manufacturer.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Some versions of Carbon, ProStreet, and Undercover all let you unlock cars and parts early by paying real money. World is definitely this as well, as a lot of the nicer cars cost SpeedBoost (which is a real-money-based currency in that game).
  • Broken Bridge: All the boroughs in Underground 2, Most Wanted 2005, and Carbon start out locked by an Invisible Wall.
    • Construction equipment and fortified barricades block off the road which leads to (coincidentally) the broken bridge used in the final pursuit of Most Wanted 2005.
    • World has this for two areas; one to block access to an incomplete road linking Kempton and Downtown Palmont with Downtown Rockport, and another south of Downtown Rockport past a toll booth that would probably allow access to Tri-City Bay.
    • Most Wanted 2012 averts this, except for access to Hughes International Airport, which can only be accessed if one buys the Terminal Velocity DLC pack.
    • Rivals does this at the beginning of the game during the tutorial missions. After those are completed however, the whole of Redview County can be accessed.
  • Bullet Time: The Speedbreaker from Most Wanted and Carbon. Also counts as Game Breaker, since it makes your car extremely dense, impossibly responsive, and essentially unstoppable.
  • Call Back: The Run allows players to access challenges which would unlock cars from Underground (Eddie's Skyline GTR from the first Underground and Rachel's 350Z from Underground 2), Most Wanted (the player's M3 GTR and Razor's Mustang), and Carbon (Cross' Corvette Z06 C6 and Darius' Le Mans Quattro). (Note that the challenges are inspired by the games themselves.)
    • The "Blacklisted" event in Hot Pursuit 2010 calls back to Most Wanted, with the event description stating that the county sheriff is "unhappy with how you've been treating his deputies, and will use all the tools at his disposal to stop you in your tracks." During the event itself, you are chased by several police cars and a single Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (Cross's car from Most Wanted).
    • A very subtle one for Most Wanted 2012. One snippet of the launch trailer has a Porsche Cayman S being blocked off by a roadblock. The car then reverses and performs a J-turn. The execution of the driving technique and the entire scene itself is a shot-for-shot recreation of Baron's (Blacklist #10 in the original MW) intro movie, who also drove a Cayman S.
    • Many of the Vanity License Plate designs in Rivals are for locations from previous games, including Olympic City (Underground), Bayview (Underground 2), Rockport (Most Wanted 2005 and World), Palmont City (Carbon and World), Tri-City Bay (Undercover), Seacrest County (Hot Pursuit 2010), and Fairhaven City (Most Wanted 2012).
  • Camera Screw: Hot Pursuit 2 rotates the camera around the car when doing a major jump making it impossible to see what's ahead until you land.
  • Captain Obvious: In the opening pursuit of The Run captions pop up helpfully telling you to avoid gunfire and explosions.
  • Cel Shading: The main graphic style in Nitro and the Wii version of Hot Pursuit 2010.
  • Character Tiers:invoked Car-based example: The series as a whole tends to divide cars into "Classes," putting similar cars into different classes (for example, putting high-performance sports cars like the Lamborghini Diablo VT and the Ferrari 512TR in their own Class) based on performance. Each game has it's own system of organization.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: On many occasions, you'll be surprised to discover that the police SUV, is in fact much faster than your tricked out McLaren F1 running at top speed.
    • Those police SUVs are especially annoying in World; after an update was added to the game to make pursuits in higher Heat Levels tougher, it seems that in every Heat Level 5 pursuit there are always two more Rhinos coming at you every ten seconds.
    • Ironically, in the original Hot Pursuit, the police AI was a lot dumber, making the very hook of the game much easier than its single player!
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Most Wanted 2012. While the racers aren't really bad, it's the police, the Fairhaven Police Department, who is totally cheap. It has cars with variable top speed (not even a Veyron can outrun them without few difficulties), it loves to stalk you at will, and continuously spams roadblocks on roads where crossroads are absent or just far away. They can also wreck you without warning from behind (as opposed to a shunt) and a bulk of the city doesn't offer alternate routes, meaning even if you're in a cooldown area, you could be surrounded in one or both directions of swarming cops coming to continue the chase. And plus, if you just do one single misstep, they can easily bust you without even trying or when you manage to escape from them, but it's too late.
      • Cop cars can and WILL spawn around you as soon as you approach a repair shop.
  • Cool Car: Koenigsegg CCX with modifications. You can't get any more awesome than that!
  • Cosmetic Awards: The many, many license plate designs for the multiplayer of Most Wanted 2012.
  • Cowboy Cop: This is how you get anything done in the Hot Pursuit 2010. Road blocks, spike strips, EMP, and helicopter at your disposal, officer. Justified in that the racers are really dangerous.
    • III: Hot Pursuit (the original) was somewhat more sedate, in that you only got spike strips. The rest you had to do yourself, via takedowns.
  • Crapsack World: Implied in the first Hot Pursuit with Empire City, the track narrator goes so far to say: "Metropolis gone bad..." when listening on the description in the menu.
  • Crazy Awesome: In-universe, You (well, Ryan Cooper) are considered to be this by the DJs if you perform good enough. They insist a lot on this at the beginning of drag races.
    DJ: "Did you see this guy? He's completely bananas!"
  • Critical Existence Failure: In Hot Pursuit 2010 and Rivals, the damage modeling usually means that cars on the verge of being wrecked look the part - but they're still perfectly capable of driving like new until that last sliver of health is gone. In addition, it is possible to get caught in a pileup at a roadblock with other drivers, leading to some hilarious, spectacular moments as one watches cars suddenly become wrecked by a fender bender.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A lot of the Duel Events in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2010 can fall into this, particularly the Power Trip, Twin Turbo, Racing Stripes and Title Fight Duels.
  • Cyberpunk: What the world of III: Hot Pursuit's Empire City most likely is.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Turbo in Hot Pursuit 2010. Like the game says, "it's hard to evade spike strips when you're going at 200mph". Especially when you're out of Jammers and can't prevent the cops from dropping spike strips in front of you...
  • Death from Above: One of the levels in The Run has Jack avoiding an attacking helicopter as he attempts to escape Chicago. Appropriately enough, the trailer it's featured in is called "Death From Above".
  • Difficult but Awesome: Mastering the Bugatti Veyron and it's faster version, the Super Sport definitely qualifies. These are two of the fastest cars in the world but they're very difficult to handle, but with some skill and a bit of practice you can makes these cars almost game-breaking.
    • Same with the El Nino and La Nina in III: Hot Pursuit and High Stakes respectively, an extreme amount of top speed and acceleration and an extreme lack of handling, but this only applies to lead foots as letting off the gas will increase the turn rate dramatically and gain you a very high edge in class A races.
  • Difficulty Spike: Quite common since Underground.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The premise of Hot Pursuit 2010. "Hey, that guy is speeding! Quickly, lets lay down spike strips, use electromagnetic pulses, call in the helicopters, and ram them off the road! Hopefully off the side of a cliff! That'll teach them a lesson about speeding!"
    • In Most Wanted 2012, getting in a crash with a cop car will always start a pursuit, regardless of who hit who. If you hit the cop, this results in everything listed above. If the cop hits you, they will also do everything listed above. Who knew getting hit by the police was a crime?
  • Dolled-Up Installment: V-Rally and V-Rally 2.
  • Dramatic Landfall Shot: The opening of Undercover.
  • Dream Match Game: Where else are you going to see cars like the Audi R8, Nissan GT-R, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Koeingsegg Agera R, Ford Mustang and the Ferrari 458 Italia go head-to-head? Nowhere else. Most Wanted 2012's overlapping car classes allow players to use everyday cars like the Ford Focus(es) and the Range Rover Evoque go up against said exotics and possibly win.
  • Drives Like Crazy: You in almost all Need for Speed games. Of note are the beautiful, treacherous tracks in Hot Pursuit 2010. When you get to, or have to, drive a Corvette ZR1 through hairpins at 200mph, you have to learn to drift well fast.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight in the Underground games, where almost all race givers will treat your car as a wreck, and expect you to be lapped five times by the end of the race. Averted in ProStreet where, if you perform good enough, the DJs will constantly praise you.
    • Played with in Most Wanted. Razor will occasionally call you up to taunt you, but as the game goes on he starts a slow-motion Villainous Breakdown.
  • Dynamic Difficulty
  • Excuse Plot: For the most part, starting with Most Wanted in 2005, the plots are just there to get you on the road at extremely high speeds. Introduced at the beginning and quickly forgotten until the end (and sometimes not even then).
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: NFS II had an unlockable Hollywood track, with movie sets and dinosaurs (indeed, a cheat code allowed you to turn your car into a dinosaur, as well as other silly things like a log).
  • Every Episode Ending
  • Evil Laugh: Heard in the second game's song, "Gore", the rock track for Hollywood.
  • Getting Arrested Is A Slap On The Wrist: The ultimate goal of the Pursuit races in World is to keep going for as long as you possibly can (or want) while causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the state. It's up to you to keep the event going if you lose the police, by actively seeking them back out again. If you happen to get arrested though, all you suffer is a loss of a couple hundred dollars.
    • Same in Most Wanted 2012, expect that when the player is busted they only lose all SpeedPoints that they've accumulated throughout the chase and return to the most recently used Jack Spot.
      • It's rather riskier for Racers in Rivals as the only way they can keep their SpeedPoints (as it's considered currency in that game) is bank them at a hideout. Since the more SpeedPoints they accumulate in a session, the higher their heat level goes up, and the more police will be after them. Worse, if they get busted by a player Cop, that player will get all the Racer's SpeedPoints.
    • Averted in Most Wanted 2005, where you have a limit on how many times you can pay for your infractions when you get busted before the police takes the car you're driving. You can increase the limit, and you can pay with a special marker to make the cops ignore the chase altogether, but both of these options are limited.
  • Excuse Plot: Seriously, EMPs? Satchels? Police stings? Bleh. Just drive and laugh.
    • The intertwined plots of Rivals is also rather forgettable.
  • Fame Gate: Underground has a style gate for certain points in the campaign, where you had to customize your car to reach a set stylish rating.
  • Final Boss: Eddie in Underground, Caleb in Underground 2, Razor in Most Wanted 2005, Darius in Carbon, Ryo Watanabe in ProStreet, Chase Linh in Undercover, Marcus Blackwell in The Run, Jamie Campbell-Walter in Shift 2: Unleashed, the Koenigsegg Agera R in Most Wanted 2012, Zephyr in the Cop storyline of Rivals, and the entire RCPD in the Racer storyline of Rivals.
  • Fragile Speedster: Most exotics and hypercars in Hot Pursuit 2010 are this.
    • In-universe: the M3 GTR at the start of Carbon gets destroyed after being lightly hit by falling pipes. Which is odd, considering the amount of crap it goes through in the final pursuit of Most Wanted 2005.
  • Hammerspace Police Force: Good god. Does no other crime ever take place in these games?
  • Hard Mode Perks: Shift 2: Unleashed rewards more cash for races depending on the difficulty.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: How F-8's police career ends in Rivals.
  • Hollywood California
  • Hood Ornament Hottie: Brooke Burke and Kelly Brook in Underground 2, Josie Maran in Most Wanted, Emmanuelle Vaugier in Carbon, Krystal Forscutt in ProStreet, and Maggie Q in Undercover. None of them were hired for their acting ability, as the in-game cutscenes show quite clearly.
  • Improbably Cool Car: Too many kids with Lamborghini Gallardos (especially the 550-2 Valentino Balboni)!
    • The Cops in general in many games with unlikely cop cars. While Most Wanted 2005, Carbon and Hot Pursuit 2010 slightly averts the trope a bit (Local (Ford Crown Victoria-ish units) and State (Pontiac GTO) had cars that are justifiable (the Crown Victoria being one of the mainstay fleet cars of numerous police departments, and if you consider similar looking GTO's being in use by the Aussie Police Forces as an example of proper usage of said car), and you literally start "at the bottom" with a Crown Victoria in HP 2010), the other games have cop cars that are either unlikely, would be extremely cost-prohibitive, or not justifiable.
    • The Pagani Zonda Cinquenote 
      • Similar to that, the McLaren F1 LM in Hot Pursuit 2, which then returned in DLC for Most Wanted 2012. Stretching that even further, the model used in Most Wanted 2012 was its prototype the XP1 LM. Then it appears again in Rivals for the police side with its respective variants.
    • The Koenigsegg CCXR which there are only four of them made! Yet, there is a police version with blue carbon fiber.
    • II was even worse with Ford GT90's, Indigos, Mustang Mach III's, Italdesign (BMW) Nazca C2's and (Lamborghini) Calas, all of which, for those who are confused, never went into production!
      • III: Hot Pursuit then had the Italdesign (Alfa Romeo) Scighera (which had only been available in the PC version, the PSX version had the aforementioned Nazca C2).
    • Carbon, ProStreet and Undercover all feature the Dodge Challeneger and Chevrolet Camaro concept cars.
    • On the less exciting end of the scale, Peugeots, Vauxhalls, Fiats, Alfa Romeos and Renaults in America.
  • Infinity Minus One Car: In Most Wanted, if you win Blacklist #6 Ming's Lamborghini Gallardo, it comes with most of all of the final performance upgrades available for cars that aren't supposed to be unlocked until after you beat #3 Ronnie. The car unmodified from its initial setup is enough to get you through the next few Blacklist targets easy, and it saves you money so you can buy one of the final cars when you need to. You will definitely want to Save Scum for this one.
  • In Medias Res: Underground, Most Wanted and Carbon start like this.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: If you knock out a car in Hot Pursuit 2010, the most you might see the driver do inside is just shake his head in disappointment. No fear. This happens even if the racer in question uses a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss Edition, which has no windshield or roof.
    • Averted in that if you wreck a cop, they sometimes request EMS.
  • Joke Character: The police helicopter in High Stakes.
    • Cheat codes in NFS II allow you to drive civilian cars, including limousine and school bus which can punt opponents around like a cat playing with its toy.
    • Lethal Joke Character: The Toyota Corolla from Underground 2 onward, and the Tesla Roadster Sport in Most Wanted 2012. Despite their rather dowdy appearance compared to other cars, they have fantastic handling and, in the right hands, beat much faster cars. The latter even has Mods that make it nigh-unstoppable.
  • The Juggernaut: The Lenco Bearcat (or better known as the SWAT truck) from Most Wanted 2012 that appears at heat 6. Attempts to ram it at high speed will most likely result in you getting taken down. It will mow down any vehicle that happens to get in it's way.
    • Although it is possible to take it down, doing so is time-consuming.
  • Land Downunder: Australian tracks that run from Sydney to the outback and back again.
    • High Stakes also gives us Fords and Holdens, as well as a Victoria police unit.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The aptly-titled "Movie Legends" DLC includes five new cars from notable movies. They include James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 and DBS, the Pontiac Firebird T/A "Blackbird" from Smokey and the Bandit, Dominic Toretto's custom Dodge Charger R/T, and Eleanor, the Shelby GT500 from Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000).note 
  • Level In Reverse: An option in the second title would, when activated, reverse the direction the player drove every track.
  • Limit Break: the nitrous in Underground 2 is refilled with stunts. This mechanic returns in Hot Pursuit 2010. In fact, it's about the only way to win in Exotic or Hyper series when you're a Racer. The fact that the cops' cars are significantly better than yours doesn't help. The nitrous system in The Run is a combination of the self-regenerating nitrous from Most Wanted, Carbon, and Undercover, with the option to accelerate the regeneration with stunts à la Hot Pursuit 2010.
  • MacGuffin: The BMW M3 GTR in the first Most Wanted.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: Many of the games with cop chatter in order to differentiate what car (and the color of it) the player was driving, as well as location in the track. It was well-done in III and onward, as well as the in-game track guide, though there are some slip-ups.
  • Marathon Level: Event 30 of Championship mode in Hot Pursuit 2. 10 laps on Palm City Island. Takes about half an hour to complete.
    • Tournaments in NFS II and III have you race on all of the tracks in the respective games (excluding the unlockable Empire City in III) with four laps per race, meaning on some of the later advanced tracks such as Summit or Hollywood, this can take upwards of over ten minutes, doubly so with Class C vehicles.
    • The Seacrest Tour in Hot Pursuit 2010: a 43-mile, roughly 15-minute race across almost the entirety of the virtual county you've been burning rubber on throughout the game. Tends to be a Curb-Stomp Battle against you if you make too many mistakes. The last racer event in Rivals was just like this.
  • Market-Based Title: There's quite a few, so take a seat.
    • European versions keep the Need for Speed name, but usually had a different subtitle. For example, Porsche Unleashed's subtitle was simply 2000 for the German edition. This practice ended with the release of Hot Pursuit 2.
    • The Japanese versions were sold as the Over Drivin' series until the release of Most Wanted (Japan did not get Porsche Unleashed or Hot Pursuit 2). There were also a few Japanese-exclusive editions of the first game, including an all-Nissan edition (Over Drivin': Skyline Memorial). Despite the name, it featured more than the company's Skyline series of sports cars, as it included various Z-cars and the R390 Le Mans racer.
    • Hot Pursuit 2 had both the Opel Speedster and Vauxhaul VX220 the only difference is the lack of roof on the VX220 while the Speedster had a slightly higher acceleration.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is this in Most Wanted 2012. It's slow and handles stiffly, but it's the toughest racer vehicle in all of the game.
    • The Range Rover Evogue is a lighter example of this. If modified, however, it puts itself in Lightning Bruiser territory.
    • And then we have the Lenco Bearcat (SWAT truck) for the cops. So much so that it's nigh invulnerability makes it a juggernaut.
    • Challenge #46 from Most Wanted 2005 featured a cost-to-state mission where the player has to drive a garbage truck. Sure it's hilariously slow, but it's huge size makes it very easy for taking down any cop that dares get in your way.
    • The Lincoln Navigator, Hummer H2 and Cadillac Escalade from Underground 2 also play to this.
    • Then when have the Volkswagen Type 2, Porsche Cayenne GTS, Hummer H2 SUT and Ford SVT Explorer Sport Trac Adrenaline from Need for Speed Nitro.
  • Money for Nothing: A problem in any game that lets you customize by using cash. You'll end up with a big bank account from winning races yet none of the higher level part tiers will open up so you can buy new swag with your loot. By the time you have the option of buying new parts, very often they won't dent your funds enough that you'll care.
  • Mood Lighting
  • Ms. Fanservice: Every female character that ever makes an appearance in the series. Absolutely. Positively. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. If she ain't a top-model, she doesn't exist. Period.
  • Multi-Platform
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Wolf". (It'd be more scary squaring up to 'Michael Schumacher'.)
    • Razor in Most Wanted 2005, which to be fair is a lot more sinister than his real name, Clarence Callahan.
    • Lampshaded in the PSP version; the Deadpan Snarker who writes each Blacklist member's bio sarcastically mentions it must of taken him all night to come up with that name.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The print ads for II had vistas of empty desert roads on them, suggesting the game would keep the point-to-point races of the original but expanded to a larger scale. In reality, II only featured circuit tracks and no open roads anything like the images.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Sure, the missions in the beginning of Hot Pursuit 2 are easy, but watch out for some of the missions after halfway through. Some require going through fog at night at very high speeds. Others have options that add traffic to the mix. At higher Heat levels, the AI will end up defaulting to spike strips first and then roadblocks. Racers also become more aggressive in later missions.
    • Undercover with the title update installed. Holy hell.
    • Hot Pursuit 2010's response missions are incredibly hard as they require to dodge everything and perform a perfect run while under a time limit at more than a hundred miles an hour. Weather conditions amp up these missions considerably. And there's that damned Bugatti Veyron response mission which does all of this at more than two hundred miles an hour, and it's recomended to reach its top speed of ~250 MPH(!) during that mission for max points!
  • Nitro Boost
  • No One Could Survive That: Most of the wrecks, takedowns, busts and crashes in Hot Pursuit 2010 that involve rolling the car multiple times, launching cars off of cliffs, brutal head-on collisions with traffic and sending supercars into walls while going at speeds climbing over 240+ MPH.
    • Especially in a Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss. The car literally has no roof and no windshield! A roll-over in that car would clearly kill the driver.
    • Zephyr in Rivals finishes his last event in a high-speed collision with a police roadblock. He seems to have been critically wounded, but then his car's engine starts.
  • Obvious Beta: Undercover shipped with severe framerate issues. Absolute death in a high-speed racing game.
    • The PS3, PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game at least got a patch that (mostly) fixes the framerate issues.
    • ProStreet had some framerate issues, too, but it didn't make the game unplayable.
    • The Xbox 360 version of Shift tried to access the PlayStation Store.
  • Old Save Bonus: Some versions of Most Wanted 2005 gave you an extra $5000 for having an Underground 2 saved game.
    • Hot Pursuit 2010 and Shift 2: Unleashed offer "loyalty bonuses" if you played a previous game in the series, usually in the form of additional experience points. Playing Hot Pursuit 2010 also unlocks two additional cars in Shift 2: Unleashed: a Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster in "NFS Edition" colors, and a Lamborghini Reventon in a Seacrest County PD livery.
  • One Cop Army: You are this in Hot Pursuit 2010's Cop mode. Unlike the Hot Pursuit events on the racer side, you are always the only cop after several racers in Hot Pursuit events, and your arrival to Interceptor events is often treated like Superman just arrived on scene.
    • "Confirmed, interceptor unit on station, standing down."
    • Same thing occurs in the the third game as well (PC anyways), you're the only cop unlike how there's other cops roaming the track should you have played as a racer.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In Hot Pursuit 2010, listen to the woman who reads off each car's description in the vehicle selection menu. She frequently slips between an American accent and a British one, especially on words like "dollars" and "goggles" (for example: The SLR Stirling Moss).
  • Penultimate Weapon
  • Pop The Tires: In many games that have police, if your heat level gets high enough, cops will start deploying spike strips with their roadblocks. Even losing one tire to one will cause your vehicle to be very difficult to control, and is usually followed by the cops arresting you.
  • Press X to Not Die: The Run uses this trope for moments where you're out of the car. In the Xbox version this is literally the case in the opening cutscene where the first button you need to press is X.
  • Product Placement: Underground 2 was the winner of GameSpot's "Most Despicable Product Placement" award in 2004. After all, this was the game that had a Burger King and/or a Best Buy every couple of blocks and the Cingular logo on the HUD at all times.
    • Hot Pursuit 2010: Roadblocks of the SCPD in association with FORD.
    • The Run has the K&N, Old Spice and AEM challenge series and every petrol station is a Shell one with their premium brand fuels clearly shown.
    • Most Wanted 2012 had a "K&N Workshop" and some of the game's license plates were sponsored as well (thankfully only in descriptions).
    • The Ford Motor Company is everywhere in Rivals; there is a racer hideout with the Ford logo on the walls as well as advertisements for the Mustang to the left and right of it, three of the game's twenty-five achievements are tied to Ford cars, the Mustang from the then-unreleased film is one of Zephyr's vehicles, and the first DLC car added to the game was the 2015 Ford Mustang via a free update.
  • Quicksand Box
  • Rare Vehicles: Carbon was released in 2006 and features the concept versions of the 2008 Dodge Challenger, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro and Audi R8 ("Le Mans"); Hot Pursuit 2 and Most Wanted 2012's Ultimate Speed Pack also features the McLaren F1 LM, of which only five were produced.note  II also featured one-offs like the Ford GT90, Indigo and Mustang Mach III, Lamborghini Italdesign Cala, BMW Italdesign Nazca C2, and the super-rare Isdera Commendatore 112i.
    • The two cover cars for Hot Pursuit 2010 title are the Lamborghini Reventon (total production: 20 cars, plus one for display in the Lamborghini Museum.) and the Pagani Zonda Cinque (total production: five cars, all going to an exotic car showroom in Hong Kong. "Cinque" is the Italian term for the number five, hence the production number and name.).
    • The main car in Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2005 is a BMW M3 GTR. Essentially an E46 M3 with a 500hp V8 engine (the stock M3 has a 333hp straight-six. The normal M3 wouldn't get a V8 until the following E92 generation) built for American Le Mans racing. To satisfy racing rules, only 10 street-legal examples were ever built priced at $218,000 each. Its one of the most expensive, powerful (reaching speeds of 219mph) and rare BMW cars built.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: This is how the story in Carbon is told.
  • Real Is Brown: Most Wanted 2005 paints the whole scene brown and orange with the Visual Treatment set on full; Carbon later replaced it with high-tech blue. Prostreet removed it completely, but Undercover goes to a gold-orange. However, the option has been completlely dropped since Shift.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Thanks to the Song Association.
  • Road Block: Used in the Hot Pursuit games, Most Wanted games, Carbon, and Rivals; the usual way to clear them is by either squeezing through or hammering your way through.
    • They return as a cop-deployable obstacle in Hot Pursuit 2010. The correct way to get through them is to shoot a gap just a little larger than your car (earning a dodged roadblock bonus). The computer regularly aims for them, but they do clip a cop car from time to time, which can lead to an easy takedown or bust.
    • Then again in Most Wanted 2012, there's even tactical road blocks made up of impassible armored trucks that are used to guide players in a certain direction.
    • Can be deployed by cops yet again in Rivals, or by anyone using OverWatch on the Need for Speed Network.
  • Rubber Band AI: Infamously used since Underground.
  • Rule of Three: Every third game seems to be centered about cop chases. The third game was III: Hot Pursuit, the sixth game was Hot Pursuit 2, the ninth game was 2005's Most Wanted, the twelfth game was Undercover, the fifteenth game (after Shift and Nitro) is 2010's Hot Pursuit, and the eighteenth game is Most Wanted 2012, again (after Shift 2 and The Run).
  • Satchel Switcheroo: Happens in the storyline in Carbon.
  • Scare Chord: Sort of. In the second and third games, crashing your car would cause a short riff (that was part of whatever song was playing, depending on track) to play.
  • Scenery Porn: Just about every game in the series, but Hot Pursuit 2010 takes it to the extreme. Think about it, Seacrest County has tall redwoods, a large lake, long rivers, a mountain range up north, long stretches of desert... all presented in Crysis-matching graphics! And it looks absolutely brilliant!
    • Rivals (especially on the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions) aims to beat that using the Frostbite 3 engine.
  • Schizo Tech: The Atlantica course in III: Hot Pursuit, which looks very futuristic but only features 1990s cars.
    • To go further, Empire City is your standard, dystopian Crapsack World city yet there are high powered, rare sports cars racing around the district.
  • Score Screen: used in all the games, though Most Wanted also tallies up your pursuit score like this.
  • Serious Business: Daft street racing with a straight face is what the game is basically about.
    • The police in Hot Pursuit 2010 have a dedicated speed enforcement unit with tricked-out cars to match those of racers.
  • Shark Tunnel: The first Hot Pursuit has one as a segment in the Aquatica track, which is also available in certain versions of High Stakes. The PSX version of III: Hot Pursuit also has a giant version of it as a secret track.
  • Shout-Out: The Coastal course in the original had a half-buried Statue of Liberty on the beach at the finish line. "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!"
    • If you crashed the Lamborgini in the 3D0 version of the orignal NFS, the guy at the menu would say:
    "You just wrecked a $500,000 dollar machine. Nice going, Gomer..."
    • In Most Wanted...
    Cross: "I want every. Single. Unit. After the guy."
    Partner: "Everyone?"
    • In Carbon, there's a district of Palmont City called Fortuna and the leader of the crew that controls it is called Wolf. Sound familiar?
    • There's quite a few in the new Hot Pursuit's achievement/trophy list.
      • Just so you know who made the game, there's an achievement/trophy called "Burnout" that requires the player to fully charge up the Nitro Boost and use it all in one go.
      • To drive that point home, one of the routes in game is called Point of Impact.
      • One achievement/trophy requires the player to win a certain event in a "bee yellow" Camaro. The name of the achievement? "Flight of the Bumblebee".
      • There's another achievement/trophy called "Iron Man" that requires completing three police events in an Audi R8.
      • And there's one called "Shaken, Not Stirred" that requires completing an event in an Aston Martin vehicle.
      • Speaking of James Bond and Astons, there's another Aston-only event called "Do look after it".
      • Finally, there's one called "Godzilla" that requires completing a certain police event in a Nissan GT-R Spec V with no weapons used, a reference to the film series and the Affectionate Nickname of the car in question.
      • One of the Racer events in the Lamborghini Untamed Downloadable Content pack is called Cannonball and has the player racing against the clock and police in a Lamborghini Countach. The event has a small homage to the opening credits in the opening intro FMV to the event.
      • Most Wanted: "We have a secret agent wannabe in an Aston Martin Vantage."
      • Most Wanted U on - you guessed it - the Wii U adds three hidden warp pipes from the Super Mario Bros. series scattered across Fairhaven. The first has a blue and red Ariel Atom, the second has a pink Caterham, and the last has a green BAC Mono. All of these are based on the colours of Mario, Princess Peach and Yoshi, respectively. Each of the rooms has items related to each character as well; Mario's has girders from Donkey Kong, Peach's has a crown, and Yoshi's has an egg.
      • Refering to the above point, notice how all the hidden cars are in the track-day car class; the closest thing to go-karts. Even the colour schemes match.
      • Additionally, each of the cars have an unlockable license plate that is exclusive to Most Wanted U. Collecting all three unlocks one more license plate with another Nintendo franchise reference.
  • Silliness Switch: II had cheat codes that would turn your car into a box, a dinosaur and a bus stop, among other things.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Spike Strips? EMP? Nahh, only a metal wound in the Hot Pursuit 2010. Averted in other games though, as the pursuit is basically over if you hit the Spike Strips.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air: Very common. In Most Wanted 2005 this can actually be a hindrance, because you might not be able to see where you're going during a chase due to the camera shifting to a more cinematic angle. Or you get stuck on top of one of the police cruisers and busted.
  • Stealth Pun: Hot Pursuit 2010 used this sentence during the final roadblock upgrade briefing for police. Also note that a cayenne is also a type of chili.
    "Porsche Cayenne Turbos are now deployed to add spice to your pursuit."
    • Now The Run does recursive shout-outs to previous installment's names on their chapters, remarkably "Underground", "Most Wanted" and the last episode, "Hot Finish".
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels
  • Strictly Formula: A common complaint against Carbon and Undercover.
  • Spin-Off: The V-Rally series (which only bore the NFS name for branding; was eventually passed to the Test Drive name later). Beetle Adventure Racing was envisioned as a Need for Speed title for the Nintendo 64 but eventually became a VW Beetle-focused racing game. The Shift games are trying to draw a divide between themselves and the rest of the franchise, with the second game dropping the name and being called Shift 2: Unleashed.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In Hot Pursuit 2010:
    Police Dispatcher: Suspect is in the sand, heading toward the rocks!"
  • Toyota Tripwire: One of Undercover's fairly humorous "busted" sequences features the player character shoving cops out of his way, jumping over a roadblock before finally being hit with a police cruiser's door at a brisk speed.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay
  • Unexpected Vehicles: Not really II's cheat vehicles since they were meant to be humorous bonuses, but rather Criterion's vehicle choices for their Most Wanted. No one really expected to drive an entry-level pickup trucknote  and three street-legal open-wheel carsnote  in a Need for Speed title.
  • Vanity License Plate: "NFS" on your plate. Supposedly these were going to be customisable for online play, until somebody realised that most people would use swear words a lot.
    • In Undercover and Hot Pursuit 2010, all the cars have license plates that say "ND 4 SPD".
    • For the real life pictures of the cars in III: Hot Pursuit, all of the pictures showing the license plate have "NFS 3" edited over them to prevent tracking.
    • A variety of plates are available for players to purchase (mostly with SpeedBoost) in World.
    • Players now have truly customizable license plates for the first time in the series in Most Wanted 2012. The following game, Rivals, retains this.
  • The Voiceless: The player character in every Need for Speed from Underground through Undercover. Doesn't count for older games or Hot Pursuit 2010 since they have no story.
  • True Final Boss: Melissa in Underground.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Slowly happens to Razor and Cross from Most Wanted 2005, as well as Darius from Carbon.
    • Chase Linh at the end of Undercover after being arrested by the police.
  • Wacky Racing: With licensed Cool Cars, to bout!
  • Wham Episode: Actually a Wham Race in the first Underground. The race known as "Friends Are Easy To Make, And Easier To Lose" has you racing against Samantha who's been your guide throughout the first two thirds of the game. Later, the other racers will call you out on this.
  • Where Do They Get All These Wonderful Toys? Most Wanted and Carbon had Municipal and FEDERAL Law Enforcement Units with Chevrolet Corvettes, Undercover had the Highway Patrol sporting Nissan GT-R's and the Locals driving Dodge Challengers, and one has to wonder what the budget is for the Seacrest County Police Department in Hot Pursuit 2010 that allows them to maintain a fleet of a variety of expensive exotics in the motorpool.

BlackCreator/Criterion Games    
Mortal Kombat: ArmageddonXboxNinja Gaiden
Mutant Muddsi OS GamesPajama Sam
Monster HunterUsefulNotes/The Eighth Generation of Console Video GamesNeptunia
NPlay Station 4 Neptunia
Mortal Kombat XXbox OnePlants vs. Zombies
The NeverhoodVideo Games of the 1990sNightmare Ned
Need For Madness?Racing GameNeed For Speed Most Wanted
Naval OpsPlay Station 2 Need For Speed Most Wanted
Muppet Monster AdventurePlay StationNight Striker
Mortal KombatVideo Game Long RunnersNinja Gaiden
NBA JamUsefulNotes/Apple MacintoshNelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
Natural Selection 2UsefulNotes/SteamNelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
Interstate '76Simulation GameRally Trophy
NaevWide Open SandboxNether

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