The Need for Speed series isn’t as popular as it was over a decade ago, but it’s still the first game you think of when considering the racing genre in video games. In its heyday, the series offered wonderful games that would take up days out children’s childhood.
The series has attempted to get back on track in recent years and this has been met with considerable success. Due to this, we’re here to rank the best and worst games of the Need for Speed series. The following eliminates re-releases and games that are differ from one platform to another.
18 Need For Speed: Payback
The latest Need For Speed game is also the worst one yet. With a score of 61 on Metacritic, the new range of Need For Speed games are certainly not living up to the standards the originals left us with. Payback is hardly worth a mention as it doesn’t deliver anything of note and only is here because of the Need For Speed name.
17 Need For Speed (2015)
In 2015, a reboot began for the Need For Speed series that aimed to revitalize fan interest. Unfortunately, it did the opposite as the titular Need For Speed had many issues critics hated. The most cited were having only dusk to dawn racing, listless AI, one-dimensional viewing system, and the always-online requirement. You couldn’t even pause the game!
16 The Need For Speed
Just because a game was the first in the series, doesn’t mean it’s the best one in it. The Need for Speed was fun for its time, but the game hasn’t aged well. It doesn’t feel like a Need for Speed game and its graphics aren't really acceptable for today’s players.
15 Need For Speed: Undercover
Back at the height of the series’ popularity, Need for Speed: Undercover was the black sheep of the recent entries. It was a gimmick-based game that rode high on having stars like Maggie Q feature in it. Other than that, Undercover under-delivered in both story and gameplay execution. Its reviews were on par with the substandard Need for Speed games of today.
14 Need For Speed: ProStreet
The nadir for the series began with Need for Speed: ProStreet as the game didn’t have any of the flash needed to sell itself. While the brand name ensured fans did purchase it, ProStreet lacked the punch you want for it to be memorable. Its only good reviews came for the PS3 and, since then, the series has languished.
13 Need For Speed: Carbon
While Need for Speed: Carbon was nothing revolutionary, it was still a solid outing for the series. The game incorporated the “In” thing of the time: Nitros. It featured a lot of high-octane racing that catered to fans. Carbon’s drifting mechanism also was a nice touch to accommodate the nitrous aspect of the game. It’s still remembered fondly by fans.
12 Need For Speed: High Stakes
Back in 1999, the very idea of damage visuals to cars was something unheard; this is what made Need for Speed: High Stakes so revolutionary. The vehicles had more realism added to them and looked more than just bricks racing on roads.
High Stakes added an exciting police chasing feature that ensured the game did live up to its title.
11 Need For Speed: Rivals
A game could only be good if it sought to emulate Need for Speed: High Stakes successfully and Need for Speed Rivals did just that. It was refreshing to see a game in the series that wasn’t a mediocre outing after years of having just that.
The game was noted for its superb visuals which added to the experience of the fast-paced gameplay.
10 Need For Speed: Shift
Gran Turismo and Forza always were a cut above Need for Speed due to their realism as driving simulators. Need for Speed: Shift sought to rival these games in this regard and came out looking pretty good.
It was noted for its ability to give a driving experience rather than aiming for all flash like the previous games. It was a shot worth taking by the developers.
9 Need For Speed: Shift 2 - Unleashed
After the success of Shift, Shift 2 – Unleashed was commissioned by the developers in order to cash in further on the success of their venture into simulation driving experience. This game also delivered as it brought more of the same, yet expanded on the best parts of Shift.
It was simply enjoyable to have extra content of what we’d like the first time around.
8 Need For Speed II
While it didn’t light the reviews on fire, Need for Speed II is remembered most fondly by gamers for being the driving game of their childhoods.
The game had beautiful maps to immerse oneself in and its cars were pretty enough for players of that time. It still is an enjoyable game if you happen to come across it; the replay value still remains.
7 Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit
Over twenty years ago, this game had graphics that were as good as it could get for racing games. Hot Pursuit was promoted heavily for the visuals it offered and it paid off as gamers wanted a piece of the action of the gorgeous looking racing game.
Its gameplay was also energized, which could only have been a good thing.
6 Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Released at a time when Need for Speed could do no wrong, Need for Speed: Most Wanted took the title of the coolest racing game there was.
If you were a teenager around this time, then you’ll remember every boy owning a copy of this game. Simply possessing this game – which housed the most stylish action one could hope for – put you in the big leagues.
5 Need For Speed: Underground 2
Come on, just look at the picture and tell us if it’s believable that’s a still from a game from 2004! Need for Speed: Underground 2 brought breathtaking visuals and then some.
The game brought seemingly endless customization of cars for the gamer’s heart’s content. People spent hours making their cars look like the talk of the town. The gameplay length also helped.
4 Need For Speed: Underground
Need for Speed: Underground brought an air of relatability to it. The idea of racing in actual races is something no one can think will happen to them, but maybe you could snag a car to race in underground places.
The maps composed of street-like environments that brought a feel that you were stealing away to live your life vicariously.
3 Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
The 2012 version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted was met with positive reviews because it brought an open world feel to it. The maps were expansive to the point you would forget you’re in a racing game.
Most Wanted also released at a time when the racing genre was hardly what it used to be, so a quality game was just what was needed.
2 Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit garnered just about the best reviews the series has gotten. This was achieved by the developers focusing on content that actually mattered.
Rather than having generic stuff no one would use, Hot Pursuit actually made use of the gorgeous environments by incorporating spectacular crashes, arcade-style racing experiences that left the pulse pounding.
1 Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
The PlayStation 2 version of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is regarded as being nearly flawless. Living up to its name, the game can have you leaving cops eating your dust with epic racing sequences that can be completely smooth.
Its unique in that every car available in the game can be used in its own way rather than just being there to make up the numbers.