Need for Speed needs to look to its past to succeed going forward

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Need for Speed is one of our favourite racing game series ever. There have been some true classic NFS titles over the past three decades. The Undergrounds, Carbon, Hot Pursuit and of course, Most Wanted, were all greats of their era.

However, it's been a very long time since we had a great NFS game released. While Heat was a step in the right direction, it was nowhere near the series' peak.

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NFS 2022 needs to look more to its past greats to be a classic in the future as well. So, what exactly does it need to replicate?

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Recapture former glory

To fully appreciate games like Most Wanted, you have to put yourself into the time period when it was made.

2005 was when The Fast and Furious films were beginning to get going and shows like Pimp My Ride were extremely popular. Most Wanted fitted perfectly into this era.

DON'T MAKE THEM LIKE THIS ANYMORE: Most Wanted is sadly a product of its time
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DON'T MAKE THEM LIKE THIS ANYMORE: Most Wanted is sadly a product of its time

The story was a simple one, you wrongfully lose your car (the iconic BMW M3 GTR GT on the cover) and need to achieve redemption by climbing to the top of the Blacklist.

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The Blacklist are as scary as they sound, as these are the 15 racers that rule the streets of Rockport. To get your Beemer back, you'll need to best all of them and challenge Razor to a showdown.

This is what made old NFS games so effective. You were thrown straight into the action, given a motivation and a clear goal and set out going to achieve it. New NFS games meander too much and lose their way.

Sometimes, simplicity is best, especially when it comes to arcade racers.

Problems with the law

We've got to talk about the cops in games like Carbon too, because those chases were legendary. If you wanted a real challenge, trying to escape from a high Heat level was always exciting and difficult.

Cop chases would start relatively innocently with patrol cars hunting you down. Eventually though, roadblocks, spike strips, a helicopter and even SUV RAMs would all be on your tail.

KNOCK KNOCK: The police didn't mess around in the old NFS games
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KNOCK KNOCK: The police didn't mess around in the old NFS games

The PD didn't mess around, there was a real sense of fear when the SUV rammers and Corvette chasers got deployed.

This is something that the new NFS games have lost their way with. While the police are hard to escape from, they border on being impossible to evade at higher heat levels. It's gone from being tough, to being frustratingly arduous and that needs to change.

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What new NFS games have done right

It'd be wrong for us to say that the latest NFS games have been all bad, far from it. Aspects such as the graphics and sound are light-years ahead of the series' golden age.

Features such as the day/night cycle in Heat have also been a breath of fresh air. The customisation has also been some of the best we've seen in the series' history too, but that can definitely be improved further to catch up to Gran Turismo.

NEXT-LEVEL CHANGES: NFS Heat brought both the day and night to the same game
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NEXT-LEVEL CHANGES: NFS Heat brought both the day and night to the same game

Now, wherever the next NFS is set, we'd expect it to look even better than ever before on the next-gen consoles. The same will go for the feel of the game too, as the 3D sound, haptic feedback triggers and size of the map will be bigger and better than any previous NFS title.

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Why we're confident NFS 2022 will be great

There's no getting around the fact that most of the recent NFS games have been disappointing. Take Need for Speed Payback for example, the 2015 title holds the lowest Metacritic score of any NFS at just 51%.

Something had to be done, so it was little surprise that EA have decided to change developers for the next NFS. EA have opted for Criterion, who have previously created NFS titles as well as Burnout.

THE LAST GREAT: Hot Pursuit is the latest NFS great as it stands
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THE LAST GREAT: Hot Pursuit is the latest NFS great as it stands

Criterion developed what many NFS players consider to be the latest great NFS title, Hot Pursuit (2010). Hot Pursuit also got the remaster treatment in 2020, reminding us all how good that game was.

Hot Pursuit knew exactly what it was, a pure arcade racer. Add in elements such as the innovative Autolog systems and the ability to play as both cop and robber and it's easy to see why it's a modern classic.