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Other games and series-wide:

  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: 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.
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  • Anti-Climax Boss: Facing Nate Denver for the title of Speed King in ProStreet. Speed races have almost always been a massive pain to play, moreso with the Speed-only Nitrocide race days to which Denver is the reigning King. As to be explained in the That One Level entry below, it is basically next to impossible unless running on a properly-specced car. Then comes facing Nate...whose 1967 Pontiac GTO is, for the lack of a better word underwhelming.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Archive Panic: Because there are so many games of the franchise being released, it'll take a Garage full to complete them, win the races and buy all of the cars.
  • Broken Base: Need for Speed has probably the most fragmented fanbase in all of Racing Games. Basically, there are more than two main types of fandom:
    • The old school fans, which most of them grew up playing the first NFS titles in the PS1/Saturn/Windows 95/98 era. They praise the first titles for having good gameplay, climate changes (like rain and snow in High Stakes), gorgeous landscapes and super sport cars. In other hand, they despise the tuning era, often saying it was a blatant copy of The Fast and the Furious and the heavy focus in tuning and almost dominant urban areas locations ruined the franchise, with the tuning-free Hot Pursuit 2010 being a return to form.
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    • The Underground/Tuning fans, which most of them grew up playing Underground to Carbon in the sixth-gen console era. They deny the existence of first titles, claiming Underground was the first NFS, ProStreet ruined the franchise, and the 2015 reboot was a step in the right direction. They despise the new entries of the franchise, like the Shift games, Hot Pursuit 2010 and Rivals, and while they criticize The Run and Most Wanted 2012, they think both games still hold "the true series' DNA" unlike the others.
    • 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.
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    • Rivals also had issues that did not please various NFS fans. The frame rate was fixed to 30 frames per second all versions, which caused many headaches for PC fans (see Porting Disaster below). Car customization, although improved compared to the Criterion installments, was still somewhat limited in the eyes of tuner 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.
    • The 2015 reboot. Tuner fans looked forward to the game with cautious optimism, but the classic fans saw it as EA caving in to the tuner fans' apparent whining over the previous installments' lack of "rice burners". It didn't help that EA's marketing basically said that the "real" Need for Speed was what the tuner-era games stood for, and current series creative director Marcus Nilsson stated that the reboot would set the template for future entries in the series. All this meant that classic-style Need for Speed wouldn't come back for a long time.
    • As both classic and tuner-era sides have bitter rivalry with each other, some NFS fans tend to Take a Third Option and root for both gameplay styles, which is, surprisingly, not maligned among these two camps. Especially evident with the return of exotics since 2005 Most Wanted, and police pursuits in most games since.
  • 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).
  • Contested Sequel:
    • The big one is over the Underground era, particularly with its (and by extension, World's) focus on aftermarket customization. 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. Older fans love it for basically a throwback, gameplay-wise, to the first four Need for Speed games with a little bit of Burnout formula such as boosts and takedowns. Newer (sixth-and-early-seventh-gen-era) fans ranging from indifferent to dislike due to the lack of vehicle customization beside colors.
    • Before it was Need for Speed: Underground, which threw out the countryside and natural Scenery Porn in favor of inner-city racing and also threw out million dollar exotics in favor of customizable JDM cars (although the exotics came back since Most Wanted 2005). However, the popularity of The Fast and the Furious, the JDM tuning scene, and MTV at the time introduced such a huge Newbie Boom that they ended up taking control of the franchise's identity fandom.
  • Critical Dissonance: Happened many times.
    • Undercover was disliked by critics but really liked by tuner fans, who thought it was a more story-driven Carbon.
    • The most controversial case was for Most Wanted 2012. Critics hailed it as the best racing game of 2012 hands down, but it got a backlash from the tuner fandom so massive that Criterion Games downsized to around fifteen employees, resulting in the later departure of its founders and a new developer (Ghost Games) 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.
    • Previously in World, Rhino SUVs and road blocks, ever since an update to the game made it much harder to escape higher level pursuits. Players had to expect another of couple of each every ten seconds while escaping.
  • Dork Age: It's widely agreed that the series fell hard into one, but when it happened depends on who you ask.
    • Classic fans argue that anything after Hot Pursuit 2 is Canon Discontinuity, with some cautiously believing the series returned to form briefly with Hot Pursuit 2010 through Rivals before plunging back into the dork age with the 2015 reboot.
    • Tuner fans, on the contrary, argue that the series fell into one either with or right after Carbon, with a brief return to form with Undercover and Nitro before diving hard back into the dork age until the 2015 reboot and Payback.
  • Even Better Sequel:
    • High Stakes to III: Hot Pursuit. Despite being a Mission-Pack Sequel to the latter, High Stakes improves a lot in III's mechanics and graphics, adds new gameplay modes and polishes those that already existed, and adds new tracks while (in the PC version) retaining its predecessor's tracks.
    • 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: Almost every entry in the franchise falls into the "discontinuity" for some fans. For old school ones, it's everything after Hot Pursuit 2 (although they accept the existence of Hot Pursuit 2010, and maybe Most Wanted 2012 and Rivals). For Underground fans, everything after Carbon, but they accept the existence of Undercover and Nitro, and believe that the 2015 reboot is what the franchise needed. They also wanted more recent franchise developers like (of all studios) Criterion Games to stop making Need for Speed games, which in the case of that developer actually did happen.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Need for Speed versus Gran Turismo versus Forza (Motorsport and Horizon). They are the big three racing game franchises, bar none.note 
    • NFS versus Test Drive during The '90s.
    • NFS versus Midnight Club during Turn of the Millennium.
    • In 2012, between Criterion's Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Playground Games' first Forza Horizon.
    • The current era (the 2015 reboot onward) goes up against Gran Turismo Sport and Forza (especially Forza Horizon, but only during that series' off-years) per the norm, plus The Crew 1 and 2 (although the fans of the Underground era — which the reboot took its overall gist from — tends to get along just fine with The Crew series' fandom, although there are the more rabid fanboys which take the trope to its logical conclusion). Driveclub also competed early on, but lost out to everyone else.
  • Funny Moments: The full page is here.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The Need for Speed had three game breakers, one for each car class.
      • Class C had the Toyota Supra Turbo, which was really a Class B car put into Class C due to its low top speed and to avoid overcrowding the B-class. It did 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds flat, when its competitors - the RX-7 and the NSX - did it in 5.5 seconds and 5.8, respectively, and had responsible handling and traction control. Its stats are so beefy that its C-class peers have a hard time beating it, and the Supra rivals or even surpasses most B-class cars! note  The only time a Supra can be defeated by B- and A-class opponents is in long straightaways, where its weak top speed shows.
      • Class B had the Dodge Viper RT-10, which is to Class B what the Supra is to Class C. 0-60 in 4.8 seconds versus its peers' 5.2, and handles much better than its rivals. Though it also lacks the top speed advantage, its acceleration and handling give enough of an advantage over opponent cars to make winning B-class races significantly easier.
      • Class A had the Ferrari 512TR, simply because its rival, the Lamborghini Diablo, suffers from heavy understeer while the 512TR doesn't. The only places a 512TR loses to the Diablo are, just like the Supra, in long straightaways where the Diablo's higher top speed wins. Other than that, the 512TR will almost always be topping the charts in races, especially because the Diablo is often the only car able to compete with it, outside of an extremely skilled Supra or Viper driver.
      • Outside of those, the Warrior is a deliberate example given to you for beating the tournament at least once. It accelerates so fast, and has a top speed so high, that even the 512TR and the Diablo are completely helpless to keep up with it.
    • The bonus car FZR 2000 of Need for Speed II is the fastest car to ever have appeared in the series. Its top speed is rivaled by some of the most powerful cars in Rivals and NFS 2015 (although, with the "pioneer" cheat, it becomes significantly faster), but its acceleration is humongously powerful note  and its handling puts that of the Ford Indigo and the Lotus cars to shame. It says enough that its brakes only really have to be used when jumping would make it leave the track boundaries or crash into a wall due to how impossibly long they are with the FZR 2000.
    • The McLaren F1 can be considered a Game Breaker for the entire series. Given its then-unrivaled top speed, great acceleration and very good handling, it often took GT1, concept or bonus cars or tracks without long straights to have something realistically stand a chance against it, and even then, its possession of world records were often uncontested. Even in modern games, where significantly more powerful cars exist, it is still a top contender due to its amazing handling or great tuning potential on games that allow so, only struggling in very long straights.
    • For those who own the Collector's Edition of Carbon, the Nissan 240SX (S13) is, no doubt, a literal Disk One Nuke (unlocked after beating every exclusive checkpoint event) even for a Tier 1 tuner. Compared to the starter cars such as the Mazda RX-8, it has a vastly superior handling and acceleration (which is par with the muscle cars). Fully upgrade it and you'll save a lot of money while making duels against Kenji, Angie and Wolf a breeze. However, the only drawback is its own mediocre top-speed which is prevalent in speedtrap events specially against the Tier 3 cars like the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. In hands of a skilled player (with a bit of luck), it can crush everything including Darius himself (if you're good enough)!
      • Hell, even the Jaguar XK outperforms the Aston Martin DB9 thanks to it's nimble handling and better acceleration, which is also a good choice for a Tier 2 car despite it's much more expensive than the 240SX.Note 
      • Grab the Dodge Viper once you reach Tier 3, tune it correctly, and watch everything fly by in an absolute breeze. With decent handling for a muscle car, and god-tier acceleration that puts even Darius's Audi to shame, with Nikki's 50% Nitro boost you won't need to worry about picking back up from a crash again. The car has enough power to pick up if you miss a corner or a shortcut and the 'only' car that comes even close to matching it's power is Cross's Corvette, which you only get to drive for a handful of challeneges. Let that sink in.
    • The Nissan 370Z (Z34) was this in Undercover even in the patched version. While being a Jack-of-All-Stats for a Tier 3 car early in the game, it can invoke this when fully tuned (despite it's sluggish handling). As a result, it's fast enough to humiliate the Tier 1 cars including the BUGATTI VEYRON! However, the 370Z recieved a Nerf in newer installments (While it becomes this again as in The Run).
    • 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.
    • In the 2015 reboot, everyone and their grandmother uses the Lamborghini Huracán and Aventador, the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, and the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 (including Magnus's "277" and Nakai-san's "Stella Artois"), as they have the overall best performance in the game when fully upgraded.
  • Genre Turning Point: For better or for worse, the Underground games and Most Wanted 2005 not only changed what people think Need for Speed is, but what arcade racers using licensed vehicles should be.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • In the Black Box installments (mainly during drag races), the Criterion installments (although for them, it could be considered usual fare), some races in No Limits, and the Ghost Games installments (remember that several Ghost Games employees originally came from Criterion).
    • Cops in the 2015 game especially fall under this for those going for the prestige medals. Not only do they swerve in front of the player, but they prevent the player from immediately restarting in the case of a mistake.
  • Good Bad Bugs: In Rivals, if you trigger Turbo and immediately start an event after that, the boost provided by Turbo will overcome the car's brakes, and you'll begin the event some distance beyond the start line and traveling at a small, but not insignificant, speed. It can help a lot for getting a few extra seconds on your opponents.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: "Fever for the Flava" contains the line "I got the green glow under my car", and it was featured in Hot Pursuit 2, the last Need for Speed game pre-Underground. EA Black Box, who developed the PS2 version, probably took the note.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!:
    • What some say about Carbon.
    • 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.
  • Magnificent Bastard: In Carbon, Darius is the leader of the notorious Stacked Deck street racing crew in Palmont City. Bailing the Player Character out, Darius has him race other crew leaders so he can take control of their territories and sells the player out to the bounty hunter, Nathan Cross, once he is of no use to him. It's been revealed that Darius caused the event that tarnished the player's reputation by tipping off the police of a street race the player was participating in, switched the money bag, and letting the player escape Palmont. When Darius learns that Nikki made a deal with Cross to free the player, he recruits the fallen crew leaders to Stacked Deck and has them race the player before racing him personally. With his cunning only matched by his racing skills, Darius nearly defeats the player on the track before accepting his defeat with grace merely telling the player to enjoy his victory while it last as there's always someone out there who's a little faster than him and eventually they're gonna catch up.
  • Memetic Mutation: I SAID RIGHT NOW! Explanation 
    • pfft nerdsExplanation 
  • Moment of Awesome: As in Awesome Video Game Levels: Most of the games in the series have at least one of them. You be the judge!
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Hot Pursuit 2010 gives us that F1-style roar during the turbo sequence. Just listen! It came back for Rivals, too.
  • Narm: The narrators of Rivals' campaigns. Here's a taste. May overlap with Narm Charm, but YMMV.
  • My Real Daddy: The now-defunct EA Black Box, for tuner fans.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Shift 2: Unleashed and its darker and edgier atmosphere. It's pretty much established with the intro that it would have a much different vibe than the original Shift. The cutscene contains a still scene of a nighttime GT1 race at Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps in the middle of a multi-car pileup, complete with flying cars and debris. In the style of stereotypical horror films, the camera slowly pans around the scene of the accident, and into closeups of the hapless victims of the crash gazing and screaming in horror at the inevitable impact. To seasoned circuit racing fanatics, this scene came off as rather hammy, but to those more familiar with the lighter side of the series, this scene was rather disturbing.
    • Nighttime racing is more realistic than in the street racing incarnations. That being said, the only source of illumination is from your headlights, meaning that you have a VERY narrow amount of visibility. Once again, those familiar with sim racing were underwhelmed, but on the other hand, the casual gamer may end up with a Jump Scare or two. Don't think of it from a gameplay perspective; imagine real night driving in your car at 50 MPH along an unlit highway. If that's terrifying to you, imagine what real endurance racers deal with at nearly 170 MPH in that same kind of darkness.
    • The secret tracks in III: Hot Pursuit for the PSX; they are never unlocked normally and are only accessible through cheat codes. There are five in total; Autocross (a track that takes place in a small groove of a forest), Caverns (which takes place in dark caverns with overhanging rocks), Scorpio-7 (a track that takes place in an underwater city), Space Race (a space station) and The Room (where the player is shrunk down to miniature size and races on a slot car track). While these tracks are very cool and provide a lot of amusement there are several features about them that can unnerve imaginative players. Firstly there is no music playing whatsoever. From start to finish and even at the results screen you do not hear music at all. Secondly these tracks are only playable with no cops, opponents or traffic in single player. That means you are racing all alone on these deserted tracks which can give off a very post-apocalyptic feel. Bonus points for the alien mosaic that appears in the large square room in Space Race. It's all so very creepy but YMMV.
    • Need for Speed: The Run stands out the most. The opening cutscene shows Jack Rourke bound to a steering wheel, trapped in his Porsche 911 Carrera S, which is going to crushed like a tin can. The OST playing in the background is creepy enough to chill your spine.
    • The Blacklist intros from Most Wanted (2012) are this to some. The Lamborghini Aventador LP 400-7's intro takes the cake for obvious reasons: First, it starts with a dark, futuristic-looking garage turning it's lights on. Each light gets turned on, you'll hear a loud flashing noise as they get closer and closer to the gate. Once the gate opens, it simply shows the Aventador closing it's scissor doors and turning it's engine on. Think the cutscene is over, right? Well... you're wrong.
    • The Koenigsegg Agera R's intro also deserves a special mention. *Shudders*
    • Remember the pursuit soundtrack from Most Wanted (2005)? The said score in Undercover and World by Paul Haslinger manages to be more intense and spine-chilling than the former. Here's an example.
  • Nostalgia Filter: All over the road with this franchise.
  • Old Guard Versus New Blood: Comparing the first two eras, the new blood overtook the old guard.
  • Older Than They Think: Burnout-like physics (bar Nitro Boost) was not introduced in the series by Criterion Games, but already appeared in Need for Speed II SE's Wild (the way cars crashed, the extreme speeds and the long jumps) and Arcade handling modes (heavy drifting). Keep in mind this was before Burnout even existed...
  • Porting Disaster:
    • Downplayed with earlier games in the series, which was less of a poor port and more of the console not being good enough to keep up with a PC. For instance, the PlayStation version of Need for Speed II was very similar in both graphics and gameplay to the PC version, but as more games were released those ports could not catch up, up until Porsche Unleashed, which was basically unrecognizable.
    • Subverted with Hot Pursuit 2. Though the GameCube, Xbox, and Windows versions all look much worse than the PlayStation 2 version despite all of them being more powerful, as well as having less content and worse gameplay, this is not because of a porting disaster, but rather because the PlayStation 2 version was developed by a completely different company - Black Box's debut NFS title for that matter - whereas the rest were developed by EA Seattle as their last NFS title.
    • Some PSP versions of NFS games, while drastically different, can be considered a big downgrade compared to console counterparts. ProStreet PSP in particular is the worst offender since it throws out the plot for a generic career system. Shift PSP version also gets a major flak by many fans (especially players who get used to console versions) for recycling ProStreet plots into a PSP title, and can easily get tired quickly save for That One Boss.
    • 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).
    • 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 cartoonish 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 PC version of Rivals takes this Up to Eleven. 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. Fortunately, according to the PCGamingWiki, it is possible to set the game to 60 FPS without this double speed issue with two command lines, with the caveat that the game will run slow for the rest of the session if it dips below the user-defined threshold.
    • The 2015 game's PC version falls into it in spite of Ghost Games' efforts, though not too much. The biggest issue is that the interface is very uncomfortable when using a keyboard (to the point it's not even the default controller option), with questionable choices like getting to the objectives menu by pressing Tab instead of Escape, or getting into events by pressing PgDn, and you only press the Enter key in the splash screen. It also makes no use whatsoever of the mouse for menu navigation (which while not new for the series, the interface could have taken advantage of it), and you cannot change the game settings once you start playing. And the Xbox One controller shows up during the first loading screen the game shows after loading. It's not to the extent of Rivals, but PC players get the worst experience of the game out of all platforms unless you own hardware that let you play it as if it were a console game (e.g. joysticks).
    • Need for Speed Payback also suffers from lags and stutters in higher settings and especially if excessive amount of lights (such as police chases or in city areas) are presents. It even lags and stutters in an RTX build!
  • Scrappy Mechanic: There's artificial input lag in The Run, making going too fast actually detrimental if you don't know the track well enough.
  • 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 was a mediocre Allegedly Free Game that (although initially somewhat popular) didn't receive that much attention from the fanbase or video game journalists, it didn't really work and was shut down in July 2015. Ghost Games' 2015 series reboot took cues mainly from the second era's games as a result.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer:
    • Car customization to the point that it, above all other aspects found in the series, is what groups of fans affiliate the franchise with.
    • Police pursuits were the original gold saucer for the franchise, as fans would just race with cops simply for the thrill of the chase.
  • Signature Scene: The slow-motion airborne moments and totaling your car.
  • Silent Majority: Possibly for the Criterion installments. Mention Hot Pursuit 2010 or Most Wanted 2012 on a forum or in the comments of a news posting or a YouTube video about NFS and you'll get some heated reactions from the tuner side of the fanbase. However, both those games still sold well (Most Wanted 2012 even outsold 2011's The Run, Black Box's last game in the series), they both made WatchMojo's list of the Top 10 Need for Speed Games,note  and during the 2014 Steam Holiday Sale, Hot Pursuit 2010note  was put up against Slender: The Arrival and Halo: Spartan Assault as a Community Choice vote for a bonus discount and won.
  • 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. The writer of this article shares this sentiment. It wasn't that Most Wanted 2012 and Rivals were bad (they were perfectly competent games themselves), it's just that—despite Most Wanted 2012's surreal cutscenes—they lacked personality, which the Fast & Furious-inspired Underground games had in spades.
  • Special Effects Failure: The cutscenes in the 2015 game use a combination of Full Motion Video for the characters and background, and actual in-game renders for your car. The final result is something that looks really strange at low quality, and there's also the matter that the cars lack a reflection of the characters when they should have.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Many players were upset and depressed regarding the shutdown of World five years after its release. Fortunately, it's still playable but only through an offline modification. According to the YouTube comment section of After the end, the game itself is now a gigantic Ghost Town.
    • Mick Gordon's "Static" deserves a special mention, as the community associates the track itself regarding the game's shutdown.
    • While the soundtrack in the entire series is great, giving you the mood to beat the race ASAP, but some of the tracks specially in the older games are quite somber. The most notable example is Bush's "The People That We Love" from Hot Pursuit 2.
    We expect her gone
    For some time
    I wish her safe from harm
    To find yourself
    In a foreign land
    Another refugee
    Outsider refugee
  • That One Boss:
    • Earl in Most Wanted 2005 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, the Final Boss of 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 don'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, etc.) that's very competitive.
  • That One Level:
    • The Miami circuits in Shift 2: Unleashed are really 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 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.
    • Mystic Peaks in Need for Speed II is one of the most difficult circuits in the series, with a lot of hard turns (some of them being blind turns), jumps in which you actually have to slow down in order not to leave the track or collide hard with a wall (more obvious in Wild mode) and very tight space that does not leave much opportunities to overtake. Excellent driving skills are needed here, especially in Simulation mode, and even then you may have to resort to excellent-handling cars like the Ford Indigo and the FZR2000 to not do an Epic Fail.
    • Any late-game Interceptor event in Hot Pursuit 2010 can become this, thanks to the computer's cheating bastardry. The racers have infinite ammo for their weapons and are slowed down much less by your own weapons than they are in Hot Pursuits; for instance, spike strips do damage but barely slow them down, while they can plow through road blocks with minimal loss of speed. The nitrous system for police means it's hard for you to earn nitrous to catch up with them, while one of your primary means of getting nitrous (slipstreaming behind racers) is inexplicably disabled. To make matters worse, you're stuck with what weapons the event gives you, so you might have a loadout that's incredibly poor for chasing a single car; good luck stopping a Bugatti with nothing but road blocks and spikes. They're much better in Rivals due to several small tweaks in gameplay, including the ability to restock weapons at repair shops and a lack of weapon restrictions.
    • The Nitrocide: Nevada Highway raceday event in ProStreet counts as well, even for the experienced players. The lineup of cars running every race in the said event include the entire Boxcut crew (with one of them running a Pagani Zonda F), two of the hard hitters from Ryo's Apex Glide team, and a random street racer with a car that can go up against them on equal grounds. And that's not even counting the highway track itself which is one of, if not the hardest speed course in the entire game, with narrow, bumpy roads and street poles making fun to OHKO any player.
  • Uncanny Valley: Any 3D cinematics in Carbon may fall into this. While the character models look pretty well detailed and having realistic facial animations even by 2006 standards, but they tend to look off no matter how high or low the game's graphical settings are.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Throughout its history, NFS games have been known for being among the best-looking racing games for their time. The 2015 reboot in particular looks damn close to a live-action film, with seamless transitions from live-action footage to in-game engine visuals.
    • Hell, even some of the games' menus can look good. Case in point, Need for Speed II.
    • Sometimes, it's the little details that make them stand out. Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed II: Special Edition with Glide support not only had convincing looking road reflections while it was raining, but the headlights of other cars were even stretched like you've seen many times driving behind someone in the rain.
  • Win Back the Crowd: The 2015 reboot of the series appears to be Ghost Games' attempt to do this for the whole fanbase, not just tuner-era fans in particular, especially after the nostalgia-pleasing Legends update.

The 2014 film based on the games:

  • Critical Dissonance: Has only a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though it has been much better received by fans of the games.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The reason the movie turned a profit at all. It bombed in the States, yet was far more successful elsewhere.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The races and chases. Even critics of the movie generally concede that these scenes are very well-done.
  • Memetic Mutation: Marshall's screaming face has become a popular reaction image.
  • Narm: The constant cutting to Pete's baby-faced grinning moments before he's horribly killed.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Tobey wins the De Leon and finally links Dino to Pete's death by using the same red Köenigsegg Agera that Dino drove on that fateful day. But he's nonetheless cornered by the 5-0 for illegal street racing and breaking parole. At least before the ending scene, aphaving been released. Such scene was even more of this trope, as it happened to the tune of "Roads Untraveled".
    • Pete's death scene also deserves mention.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck: Has only a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though it has been much better received by fans of the games.

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