These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Going the tuning route with Underground was controversial, but once they did, the move for that game and its squeal 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.
Base Breaker: The focus on car customization in the second era (and by extension, World). 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?
Hot Pursuit 2010 for no car customization,* beyond color-swapping a lack of a proper open world,note Although Seacrest County is one continuous environment, it does not have a proper free roam. The free roam is simply just screwing around in a car for as long as you like in single-player with no pursuits or other events on the map. and the addition of weapons and Autolog.
Most Wanted 2012 for reasons explained below (see Broken Base) with Burnout fans not liking that it takes cues from Burnout Paradise, itself a Base Breaker in that series.
For another example, see the comments here, some of which are rated at around +10. Maybe deservedly so.
Not even Criterion is immune from this; immediate reactions after the confirmation that the 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. In addition, fans of the original Most Wanted feel that the reboot is simply a Burnout Paradisere-skin due to the fact that the gameplay takes far more cues from Burnout Paradise than Most Wanted, while also lacking the car customization of the second era games.
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 think it's too Burnout, while Burnout fans think it's not Burnout enough.
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.
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.
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.
Fan Dumb: The car customization system introduced in the Underground games has caused this. Those who got into Need for Speed during its second era (when car customization was the biggest draw of the series) will reject any NFS game that doesn't have any extensive car customization, such as the Criterion-developed games, even though older Need for Speed fans know that first era didn't have any of that beyond color-swapping and some car tuning.
Not to mention, the car customization focus of those games seem to go a bit against a game series that's named Need for Speed.
Fanon Discontinuity: See Broken Base, Critical Dissonance 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 Which in the case of that developer, actually did happen.
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 BOTHGran 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 someseriouslyawesome 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.
Hot Pursuit 2010 and Most Wanted 2012 for the critics, the two Underground games and Most Wanted 2005 for most fans. Many also make the argument with Rivals.
III: Hot Pursuit for the older fans.
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.
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.
So Okay, It's Average: Some say this about Most Wanted 2012. The professional critics however, hail 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.
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.
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.
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.