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YMMV: Need for Speed

The video game franchise:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Going the tuning route with Underground was controversial, but once they did, the move for that game and its sequel to arbitrary car power, which annoyed many auto journalist critics, became important for the same reason as Arbitrary Gun Power: if there was more realistic (even at the NFS arcade level) performance characteristics for each car, you would be stuck with few competitive choices, especially in circuit where many limitations of the chassis and drivetrain configuration can't easily be modified away. Granted the breaks were a bit disconcerting (apparently in the NFS world, the RX-7 FD, which races in SCCA A stock and posted the best slalom time ever in its "Autoweek" testing debut, handles the same as a stock Civic Si), but with all the time it could take to customize the cars, it is nice to be able to keep using them in multiplayer races and still have a chance against anything else, as well as important for replayability. See also, Critical Dissonance.
    • For those who want to take part in a high speed police pursuit they might be familiar with concepts such as terminating if it goes too fast and that trying to cause the racers to wipe out in a possibly lethal crash is not standard practice for law enforcement, or the typical budget does not extend to Bugatti and Porsche patrols. But that would not be as fun as using helicopters, roadblocks and tire spikes at three hundred miles per hour.
  • Best Level Ever: Most of the series has at least one of them. You be the judge!
    • III: Hot Pursuit: Empire City was certainly a track worthy of being a prize for beating Knockout mode. Its cyberpunk influences, great techno theme, the tight and tricky layout, and even those alleyways near the start/finish line that could be used as shortcuts early on made it a fun track to race on.
    • Most Wanted 2012: The crown goes to the Hughes International Airport in northeastern Fairhaven which appears as part of the Terminal Velocity DLC. Big jumps, futuristic architecture, a long drag strip derived from a plane runway, a construction site and winding roads. And you can drive INSIDE the airport! See this gameplay video to witness the utter awesomeness of this airport. And if you have this pack, get ready to feel like Frank Martin.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The surreal Ambush event intros in Most Wanted 2012.
  • Broken Base: Need for Speed has probably the most fragmented fanbase in all of Racing Games.
    • Specifically, the pre-Underground fans versus the Underground fans. The massive amounts of Fan Dumb over Shift is astounding. Here's proof.
      • The focus on aftermarket customization in the second era (and by extension, World) is especially notable. Does modding the look of your car make it look like the most badass Pimped-Out Car there ever was or does it make a finely-crafted machine look like an ugly-as-Hell Rice Burner?
    • For another example, see the comments here, some of which are rated at around +10. Maybe deservedly so.
    • Underground fans did not like Hot Pursuit 2010 for a lack of aftermarket customization, tuners, and a proper open world.note  Classic pre-Underground fans on the other hand liked the game for those exact reasons. Both sides did have mixed feelings regarding the weapons (especially towards racers) and Autolog though.
    • Immediate reactions after the confirmation that Criterion's next game in the series would be a reboot of Most Wanted developed by them ranged from excitement that the developers of the Burnout series and Hot Pursuit 2010 is returning for another reboot of a fan-favorite Need for Speed title to disappointment that they're not returning to Burnout just yet with expressions being made that Criterion's first NFS title wasn't as good as they hoped it would be.
      • Several people took to Amazon just to bash the game after it was released. Even one Amazon reviewer who gave a more objective four-star review of the 2012 game got some flak just for giving a positive review of it; at least one commenter even accused him of being a shill for EA.
      • Most Wanted 2012 tends to get flack from both Underground and Burnout fans. Underground fans were once again unhappy about the lack of car customization beyond the performance mods and color (liveries for the cars in the Need for Speed Heroes DLC pack), as well as having taken so many cues from the Burnout series. Burnout fans meanwhile think that it was not Burnout enough, or it was too much like Paradise (itself a Base Breaker in that series). Also, Fairhaven is seen by some fans of both past Need for Speed games and Burnout Paradise to be rather small and lacking in variety in its districts.
    • Rivals also had issues that did not please various NFS fans. The frame rate was fixed to 30 frames per second on the PC version, which caused many headaches for PC fans (see Porting Disaster below). Car customization, although improved compared to the Criterion installments, was still somewhat limited to Underground-era fans. Also, for a multiplayer-oriented game, six players maximum in a session is also rather limited. It did fix several problems that were in Hot Pursuit 2010 though, such as making its county an actual open world and maintaining Most Wanted 2012's improvements to Autolog.
  • Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch: Nitro received much flak for having a drastically different art style from the rest of the series, as well as for replacing Shift on the Wii.
    • 2012's Most Wanted, just because it's not the same as the 2005 original (or even Burnout Paradise in some regard).
  • Character Tiers: 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).
  • Critical Dissonance: Happened many times. Undercover was disliked by critics but really liked by fans, who thought it was a more story-driven Carbon. The most controversial case today is for Most Wanted 2012: critics hailed it as the best racing game of 2012 hands down, but got a massive fandom backlash. Evidently, the dissonance was so bad that Criterion Games have downsized to around fifteen employees, which resulted in the later departure of its founders, and a new developer (Ghost Games) is taking the reins of the franchise.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Has its own page.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: The live action ad for Most Wanted 2012. At first it looks like a western movie, but then that troll of a Ford Focus shows up. Laughs guaranteed. Also, the background song is none other than "Apache (Jump On It)" by The Sugar Hill Gang.
  • Defictionalization: In March 2014 (coincidentally the same month as The Movie of this series released), the Los Angeles Police Department began using a police-painted Lamborghini Gallardo for recruitment purposes.
  • Demonic Spiders: The opponents' AI in Shift will slow down just to block you off, making overtaking a bitch.
  • Dork Age: The series fell into one starting around Carbon (although some will claim everything post-Underground as Canon Discontinuity), and left it with Shift and Hot Pursuit 2010. However as of recent, Criterion Games and Ghost Games came under heavy fire from certain groups of fans after Need for Speed Rivals.
  • Even Better Sequel: Shift 2: Unleashed to Shift 1, specially after the 1.02 patch which corrected the jerky handling for controller users. Also, Underground 2 to the first one.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: See Broken Base, Critical Dissonance, Dork Age, and Fan Dumb. Some Internet comments have included people wanting the franchise's focus to go back to that of an earlier era (with several wanting to go back to the Underground days) and will disregard more recent titles. Others wanted more recent franchise developers like (of all studios) Criterion Games to stop making Need for Speed games.note 
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Test Drive during The Nineties.
    • With Gran Turismo 5 in 2010, even though it makes little sense as they take completely opposite approaches to the racing genre. Gran Turismo 5 and Shift 2: Unleashed would make more sense.
      • Though there is still a NFS vs. GT rivalry anyway for various reasons (game sales being one of them).
    • In 2012, between Criterion's Most Wanted and Turn 10's Forza Motorsport, more specifically with Playground Games' Forza Horizon.
    • History repeats itself once more with Rivals going up against BOTH Gran Turismo 6 and Forza Motorsport 5.
  • Fridge Logic: after a few Races in Hot Pursuit 2010 as the cop you'll probably get this... The game gives you some of the fastest cars in the world complete with some seriously awesome looking police paint jobs and sirens (in fact you can even select what kinda sound you want your sirens to make)) that would probably still be heard amidst the noise of the engine. But the Civilians on the roads don't seem to mind at all, which can be particularly frustrating when you're driving say a Koenigsegg CCX down the freeway at max speed while truck drivers or cars are moving at a gentle pace down the same freeway.
    • What's worse is hitting said vehicles nets a +3 penalty, and hitting the sides of the road is a +2 penalty, making some challenges nearly impossible.
    • There is also a certain amount of Fridge Logic in the fact that the police apparently decide the best way to deal with illegal street racing is to buy a seemingly unlimited number of multi-million dollar supercars, equip them with experimental EMP technology and send them out to run said racers off the road.
  • Game Breaker: In Most Wanted 2012, the Everyday car class contains the Audi A1 Clubsport quattro, a pocket rocket with 496bhp and a 0-100km/h time of 3.7s.
    • The Koenigsegg One:1 systematically slaughters all of the other vehicles in Rivals. It has the highest top end speed in the game, it has very strong acceleration and great handling, and it is rather bulky for being a hypercar. The best thing? It's a FREE DLC car. Yes, it might be unlocked at the end of the game, but at that time it's more than certain you can use this vehicle without screwing up.
      • Hell, the One:1 is also a game-breakingly good car in real life, too. What did you expect from the first ever production car to have a power-to-weight ratio of 1-to-1?
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: According to a recent research done by the staff of NFS, the Italian players of Most Wanted (2012) play for the most of the time with the Lamborghini Aventador, Pagani Huayra and Alfa Romeo 4C Concept. They also drive the Aston Martin V12 Vantage more than any other player in the world.
  • Goddamned Bats: The traffic in the Criterion installments (although for them, it could be considered usual fare) and The Run.
  • Good Bad Bugs: One very useful bug in Most Wanted 2012 is to change mods after hitting the apex of a billboard jump to extend your distance and prevent your car from leaning too much forward.
  • Hype Backlash: Since the release of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2010, the game drew some ire from various fans due to its drifting mechanics being similar to Burnout Paradise's and other reasons such as the lack of aftermarket customization. This carried over to Most Wanted 2012 in particular, as it was much closer to the open-world Burnout game than Hot Pursuit 2010.
  • In Name Only:
    • The series between Underground and Undercover is this to the previous games. Also, the V-Rally installments.
    • The Broken Base starts at Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks: What some say about Carbon.
  • Magnum Opus: Hot Pursuit 2010 and Most Wanted 2012 for the critics, the two Underground games and Most Wanted 2005 for the fans after the tuner culture shift, and III: Hot Pursuit for the oldest fans. Some fans, including the newer-bloods, also make the argument with Rivals.
  • Memetic Mutation: One of Razor's lines about betting "five grand — FIVE GRAND!" against the player character in one of the opening cutscenes to Most Wanted 2005 is an inside joke at Giant Bomb that comes up whenever a NFS game is in the news.
  • Most Annoying Sound: "That's the green light! Push push push! Nail that first corner! Green light!" is what you'll be hearing from your spotter in Shift 2: Unleashed when you have to restart a hard race often.
  • Narm: The narrators of Rivals' campaigns. Here's a taste. May overlap with Narm Charm, but YMMV.
  • Nostalgia Filter: All over the road with this franchise.
  • Player Punch: In Most Wanted 2005 you were trying to get your BMW M3 GTR back, at the beginning of Carbon it gets trashed.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • While not exactly a port as such, the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions of Undercover are considered by reviewers as nothing more than just cash-ins for fans who don't have a more premium system, and therefore, the superior version. The visuals are worse than Carbon's, despite being two years younger, the frame rate is (amazingly) worse than the 360/PS3 versions, and the game's landscapes aren't actually new; they're actually just various roads and highways from both Most Wanted 2005 and Carbon clobbered together. On top of that, it still suffers various problems that griped the superior versions (i.e. the glaring, shiny street effect).
    • Even worse with the Wii version of Hot Pursuit 2010. Bear in mind how the game was praised for dragging the series out of the stale tuner street racing theme and returning to its roots. The Wii version is effectively Nitro, but without a cartoony style and several new courses and cars from the more mainstream versions. Everything else however? Nearly identical. You can still modify the look of your car, which, given the car selection, is tragically hilarious.
    • The GameCube, Xbox, and PC versions of Hot Pursuit 2 all look worse than the PlayStation 2 version, despite all of them being more powerful. They also had less content and worse gameplay.
      • Note that the PS2 version was Black Box's first NFS title, while the other versions were EA Seattle's last.
    • Oh god, the PC version of Rivals. The cutscenes are unskippable and the frame rate is hardlocked at 30 FPS... on a platform that can easily handle such a game on 60 FPS or higher. What's worse, if someone tried to force the FPS caps off on the PC version, the game loses control of the physics of the car, effectively making the game unplayable. TotalBiscuit shares his thoughts on the PC port here.
      • Actually, according to PC Gaming Wiki, it is possible to set the game to 60 FPS without this double speed issue with two command lines, but the caveat is that the game will run slow for the rest of the session if it dips below the user-defined threshold.
  • Polished Port: Most Wanted U, the Wii U version of Most Wanted 2012, was meant to be this, considering it looks much nicer than the earlier console versions. However, without any DLC releases to that version beyond the on-disc standard inclusion of the Ultimate Speed Pack due to a lack of sales for the platform, former Criterion Games vice president Alex Ward blasted both EA and Nintendo saying that they screwed over the Wii U version.
  • Sacred Cow: 2005's Most Wanted by Black Box was so sacred that it caused a massive Hate Dumb over Criterion's 2012 remake practically the moment it was announced simply because it didn't play anything like the 2005 game. By comparison, the older Hot Pursuit-era fans were more open to Criterion's 2010 remake when it was announced since was a long time since the words "Hot Pursuit" were last used in a title and Criterion were still a highly-praised developer to consumers at the time.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Admit it; both the first and second era's games haven't aged particularly well gameplay-wise. The older games' steering are really stiff where you had to slam on the brakes to make good turns. That or repeatedly press the brake button as you approach a turn. (Mind you, drifting wasn't a thing back then.) On the other hand, handling in the Black Box games are very loose and can be too sensitive to your braking, which is probably why the Underground games' drifting events were so tricky. Maybe that's why Criterion's "awful" entries did well with those stupid critics?
  • Sequel Displacement: To put it bluntly, this is what tore up the fanbase. The Underground games and 2005's Most Wanted became so successful that it changed people's perceptions of what the franchise is and is not. Unfortunately, the problem was that there was already an existing devoted fanbase beforehand. When EA went back to the classic style in Hot Pursuit 2010, the older fans were mostly pleased, but the newer fans (which seems to be the majority of the current fanbase) were not. EA tried to rectify this with the World MMORG released the same year, but since it's a mediocre Allegedly Free Game that (although somewhat popular) didn't receive that much attention from the fanbase or video game journalists, it didn't really work. The Underground-era fans are still hoping for an Underground reboot to this day, and believe that Ghost Games' 2015 title, which is currently taking two years to develop, will be just that.
  • Song Association: To be expected when you have an EA soundtrack in your game. Snoop Dogg? Spiderbait? The Buzzhorn? Bush? Hot Action Cop? Disturbed? Bitchin'.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Some say this about Most Wanted 2012. The professional critics however, hailed it as the best thing since sliced bread.
    • Rivals got lower review scores than the above-mention title, but it is still considered a good arcade racer. PC gamers, however, would not agree with this.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Rivals is saddled by an unskippable intro cutscene, unskippable tutorial videos that interrupt you in the middle of a race, and not allowing you to navigate main menus when a (mostly for tutorials) voice over is happening.
  • Television Is Trying to Kill Us: Several NFS games give you nitrous boosts for sliding (which besides slowing you down will lower control and can lead to a collision), as well as narrowly avoiding accidents, which means that dangerously darting around cars at the last second is rewarded over the actual racing technique of looking ahead to anticipate and give a safe distance when overtaking or avoiding cars.
  • That One Boss:
    • Earl in Most Wanted served as this for a lot of people, usually due to the aforementioned Rubber Band A.I., because at that stage of the game the cars available are not as maneuverable as they should be for his final course, so although the player will usually outpace Earl for the vast majority of it, when the player gets to the last 15% or so of the course the rubber-banding would kick in and Earl would accelerate enormously, and if the player made even the tiniest mistake in turning the ridiculously sharp corners—which would almost always happen—Earl would be going so fast that the player would find it impossible to catch up in time.
    • Darius from Carbon. His car is an Audi Le Mans Quattro (Audi R8 Concept Car) which has all of the advantages that most of the other cars doesn't and requires the player to use almost perfect skills with a tier 3 car (likely a Porsche Carrera GT, a Dodge Viper SRT-10, a highly tuned Nissan Skyline or a highly tuned Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) that's very competitive.
  • That One Level:
    • The Miami circuits in Shift 2: Unleashed are bloody awful. The kerbs on gentle curves can spin your car out with ease and even with the skill to avoid spinning you'll be fishtailing for quite a while. Even with Traction Control, Best Line and ABS, you'll still get rammed into the frapping wall from other racers bumping into you from the side.
    • In the first Shift, the tight Tokyo tracks are problematic since the other AI racers will relentlessly push you over and almost ruin your winning chances. Not to mention The Green Hell tracks are bitches to complete with the AI racers driving aggressively. Made worse by the that that ever since Underground 1, the Rubber Band A.I. got more annoying by each installment.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Poor Most Wanted 2012. One must wonder What Could Have Been the fan reception for that game if it didn't have the 2005 game's title.
  • They Just Didn't Care:
    • Seems to be the case for the cop cars in Hot Pursuit 2, where they already had cars in the game of at least the same models as real police vehicles (e.g., a Porsche 911 and BMW 5 series), but instead they, for whatever reason, used the American cars whenever possible; including a Corvette and fourth generation Mustang, despite neither of them ever seeing more service than the occasional DARE cars and publicity cars, and even in those cases then they were typically just a confiscated car that was repainted.
    • The PC port of Rivals absolutely reeks of this trope. See Porting Disaster for details.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The Run. A lot of mystery goes into who set the race up, but it's never revealed, leaving all the teasing for nothing. Meanwhile, the idea of a cross-country race could set up all sorts of storylines, such as why someone would do it and offer such a massive prize in the first place, but that never goes anywhere, and none of the other racers are developed at all.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The series does this for supercars.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Most Wanted 2012 has some seriously trippy cutscenes. May also double as Visual Effects of Awesome.

The 2014 film based on the games:


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