Sunday, April 15, 2012

Need For Speed Movie??? Run That Moniker Into The Dirt

Top Gun, 1986 flick featuring Tom Cruise.  Thanks for coining this phrase and ruining the face of racing games forever.

I kid of course.  I just wonder what the hell is the thought processes of these EA suits other than run the phrase "Need for Speed" up your ass.  All of this on the heels of a proposed Need for Speed movie?  Really?  Michael Bay directed the trailer for The Run so I don't put it past EA.  I doubt this'll go through.  See what happened to the Bioshock movie, the Halo movie, the God of War movie, yada yada yada.  And even if a NFS movie were made, what would it be like?  It would look like this, don't kid yourself:

At :40, the words "Outrun Everyone" appear on the screen...BLASPHEMY AGAINST SEGA!!!

But anyway, I wanted to talk about Need for Speed in general.  It's not Split-Second/Burnout bad but it's getting there.  Don't get me wrong, it's a decent set of games but here's my opinion of the series all this time.  And if you're a NFS diehard, you may agree:

I see Need for Speed as a spoiled only child with rich parents.  He gets what he wants without question.  Because NFS is so pimped out, it's become the "go-to" arcade/sim racer of this generation even if most of the content is rehashed with each release.  EA with their $2 billion warchest buys out everything, including people!

EDIT: I'm dead serious when I say EA has that $2 billion warchest.  EDIT AGAIN: I wrote down the wrong number, wow I was way off, sorry.  Well, that's according to my FIEA professors that know the inner workings of EA.  Saving it for a rainy day I suppose.  For those of you hoping for EA's demise, well they ain't going away any time soon...

So basically EA makes their annual one or two NFS games and calls it a day.  Get their paycheck and cater to the oh-so-mediocre racing genre.  Here's a list of every unique NFS title since 2003:

Underground (2003)
Underground 2 (2004)
Underground Rivals (2005)
Most Wanted (2005)
Carbon (2006)
ProStreet (2007)
Undercover (2009)
Nitro (2009)
Shift (2009)
World (2010)
Nitro-X (2010)
Hot Pursuit (2010)
Shift 2 (2011)
The Run (2011)

To be fair, Shift 1 and 2 don't deserve to be there.  They're so much different in nature to the others in the series.  They were both developed by the racing-dedicated Slightly Mad Studios right out of London, England.  Obviously, someone had to publish their game so EA was willing to do long as they tacked on the "Need for Speed" phrase to their title, hence the series became known as "Need for Speed: Shift."  Kind of like what Activision did with Modern Warfare 2/3.  Since the words "Call of Duty" resonate far more with gamers than "Modern Warfare," they appended the phrase to their games.

How typical of big publishers to pimp out the buzzwords of their game titles.  Like take Guitar Hero.  It was inferior to Rock Band (don't argue with me) but sold more copies purely because of the words "Guitar Hero."  And there you go--now you know why Shift was absorbed into the NFS family against its will.

EA also included in the contract "Put a drifting BMW on the cover with fancy visual effects--don't question us."

And here's what I want to talk about.  The production value of NFS games has always been solid though the quality has been lukewarm at best.  With the lone exception of Criterion's Hot Pursuit, not one NFS has reached "elite" status like other heavy-hitters such as Forza and Mario Kart.  And why is that?

I believe Need for Speed is in an identity crisis.  The first few NFS games were simple--drive a sports car through exotic landscapes.  Then they added police chases--that's fine by me.  Then they introduced the street tuner/ricer aspects in Underground.  Then they decided to go balls out with urban/highway racing as they introduce lousy cutscenes ripped out of a Fast & Furious flick, recycle the same mediocre arcade/simulation car handling, add tons of explosions, slap the BMW/Audi/Mustang on the cover and call it a day.  It feels hackneyed due to its forceful adherence to trends or what's "cool" at the time of release.  It's good at getting highlights on the gaming websites/magazines but after that, what do you have?  More of the same old, same old.

Also I'd like to mention the car handling which is really what makes or breaks a racing game.  What's with the handling?  I've played from Underground to The Run and in every experience, it's this abnormal mix between arcade and sim handling (read about my The Run experience).  Car handling isn't as responsive as I'd expect.  I don't get it because I thought NFS was supposed to be a mainstream game so why is it so annoying to play?  I'd take Forza or Mario Kart any day of the week when it comes to pure racing.  EDIT: Of course, Shift 1/2 may be different but I've barely played those...I should get around to it soon.

I also noticed something about NFS.  I recently looked up clips of this arcade version.  Compare it side-by-side with other hallmark "street racer" titles.  Do they look the same?  Yes they do.  So derivative it's insulting.

Need for Speed by EA

Fast & the Furious by Raw Thrills

Dead Heat by Namco

R-Tuned by reaction to this game:

Am I being harsh?  I don't know, I'm just shooting from the hip here.  Trying to understand what the heck's going on with Need for Speed.  It's as if cutting-edge sports cars and massive production values can overcome all other shortcomings with the games.  Like I said, I know there's some NFS fans out there and I would like to know their take on all this.  The massive quantity of NFS this necessarily a good thing?  Hey, just ask Sega fans if they think all these Sonic games was a good thing (Sega is Sonic's pimp).  A NFS movie, does this bother you in the slightest?

I said before that, as a programmer coming out of grad school, I refuse to work at Electronic Arts.  But maybe, JUST MAYBE I'd work for them under one condition--let me help you with Need for Speed.  And I'm not talking "sit there and program useless crap"--I mean let's talk turkey.  I'll be the producer who rights the ship.  It's driving me nuts and I want to help racing games save face nowadays.  Though this'll never happen so give up on EA while you're at it people.

Oh're beyond therapy at this point.


  1. I couldn't agree more with this post. I've been a fan of NFS ever since Porsche Unleashed back in 2000 and I've gotten the chance to play a few more titles including High Stakes. I personally think the series went downhill starting with Prostreet. I thought it was okay, but not the same. Same with The Run. I think the best "modern" NFS game is Hot Pursuit without a doubt. It's also one of my most favorites in the series.
    As far as a movie goes, I really don't see it getting off the ground either. Even if it did, it would most likely be a story similar to Undercover like you said, which would probably upset alot of fans since since Undercover received alot of negative feedback (I never got to play it but I guess I didn't miss much).

    By the way, this is BatfanX29 from DeviantArt. The one who made those Daytona cars for Trackmania Nations. I've been following your posts for quite a long time now. I even have this site in my favorites.
    Sorry for the long comment. Keep up the posts!

  2. Wow thanks man! You and the deviantArt community are doing a good job with the Daytona fan cars. I like to receive positive feedback from the readers--doesn't matter how long it is. Makes me want to write even more posts.

    Anyway, your post was caught in the spam filter but I fixed that. Don't know what's up with Blogspot since they mark anything that references car manufacturers like "Chevy" or "Porsche." So don't worry about it if that happens (I check all replies).

  3. You're very welcome Eric. Thanks for the feedback on the cars. No worries regarding the spam filter. I closed my account a while back due to loss of interest. I was hoping the car pack would stay up, but sadly it didn't. I'll find some way to keep it up somewhere else.