Need for Speed is one arcade racing game that every person has either heard of or played. NFS games have been around for quite a long time and since then there has been improvement in every game released under the Need for Speed franchise. Looking at how the next game is in the franchise, titled- Need for Speed: Unbound, which is slated for a December 2nd release this year, we take a look at the 10 best Need for Speed games that you should play if you like racing games.
Best Need for Speed Games
Before we begin this list, the games in this list have been mentioned in no particular order. This is simply a list of the must-play games from the Need for Speed franchise.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)
Anytime you talk about Need for Speed games, there is one game that always comes to mind, the original NFS Most Wanted game. Sure it’s a pretty old game at this point, but the nostalgia for the game is quite high. The game has 15 racers that you need to defeat. There are various kinds of events and main missions that you need to complete in order to win and eventually earn your opponent’s car.
The BMW M3 is one of the most popular cars in the Need for Speed franchise. This is the same car that Razer takes away from you and in order to earn it back, you will have to defeat him. But, you also need to be aware of the police that will always be after you. Every time your wanted level increases, the police force launches out tougher police forces that try to take you down. If you still haven’t played this game, it’s time you give it a try and see what the craze is all about.
- Release Date: 11 November 2005
- Platforms PC, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PSP, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Gameboy Advance
Need for Speed II SE
Let’s go back to the late 90s Need for Speed games. Need for Speed II SE was one of the few games that a lot of people have played. You could even say that this was the first Need for Speed game from where users started enjoying the NFS games. The games’ graphics for the time were pretty cool. You could choose to play between single-player, multiplayer, or even split-screen.
The game also has a good number of cars and numerous tracks for you to race on. Of course, there were also a few cars and tracks that you could unlock by making use of cheat codes. The game was simple and easy to play. No paywalls nor were there any sort of microtransactions. If you haven’t played this one, might as well check the game out from one of the many abandonware websites from where you can download the game.
- Release date: 31st march, 1997
- Platforms: PC
Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2012
The new Most Wanted game was not anything like players were expecting. It had a whole different approach and moved quite far from the original Most Wanted game. However, the game was quite interesting as you still had the blacklist leaderboard that you could race against and eventually earn their car and be the best racer out there. In terms of graphics they were pretty good, the roads and the cities felt more realistic and also the car sounds seemed quite real.
A lot of players called 2012 Most Wanted a car collecting simulator. Simply because it’s easier to find cars and more importantly very easy to switch between the current car and the car that you just spotted at a particular location. In terms of vehicle upgrades, the options are very limited. There’s the occasional police chase that will occur during certain events and races.
- Release Date: 30th November 2012
- Platforms: Android, iOS, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita, Kindle Fire, Nintendo Wii U
Need for Speed: The Run
The Run, just like Most Wanted 2012 was an entirely different take on the NFS franchise. You see, The Run wasn’t anything like a regular Need for Speed game. This was a game that had a storyline and you were kind of limited from doing anything else apart from participating in the storyline’s events. Free roam was never an option in The Run. The Run is all about a huge race where 100+ racers are racing between San Franciso and New York.
During this big illegal race, you will find a number of mini-races and events that you have to play in order to progress through. You also get to race in different weather conditions including day and night times. Of course, there’s the multiplayer mode that you can play and race in with your friends online. The whole game can be completed in a single sitting.
- Release Date: 15th November 2011
- Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS
Need for Speed: Undercover
Need for Speed Undercover brought in a lot of mixed reactions. The plot of the game was that while you take part in various races, your job is also to take down various international criminals. Apart from just taking out the criminals, you will also have to fight off the cops who will always be around trying to take you out.
For most of the players, NFS Undercover was more of a repetitive game that became repetitive and boring. The graphics were average even for the time it was released. The game looks better on portable devices. Still a good game if you want to just drive around and play a few races.
- Release Date: 18th November 2008
- Platforms: PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Phone webOS
Need for Speed Underground 2
This was on the Need for Speed games that got a lot of people into customization. Underground 2 had a lot (for its time) of performance and visual upgrades to make your car stand out and be the fastest one out there. In Underground 2, you would be able to take part in races anywhere and at any time. Given that upgrades and customization were the main focus of the game, you would be able to find several shops that you could visit to upgrade your vehicle.
One other cool feature of NFS Underground 2 is that players could free-roam around the map. You could also free roam and compete around with your friends, thanks to the online multiplayer mode.
- Release Date: 4th October 2004
- Platforms: GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC, Gameboy Advance
Need for Speed: Heat
One of the latest entrants to the Need for Speed franchise is Heat. This time, the game is focused more on participating in races and upgrading your cars. You will be able to choose between night and day modes. During the day time, you can participate in races and upon winning will earn cash that helps to upgrade your rides. Meanwhile, at night the races get tougher as you have the cops behind you most of the time. This is also the time when your reputation level increases.
Need for Speed: Heat has a large roster of cars that you can unlock and purchase as and when you increase your in-game ranks. There is also a multiplayer mode where you can join a party with other random people online or with your friends. The game has a very neon-filled environment that looks the best during the night.
- Release Date: 8th November 2019
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Need for Speed: Carbon
If you enjoy the old-school Need for Speed games then NFS Carbon is one of the games that you need to try out. The game follows NFS Most Wanted where you take part in illegal street races and your goal is to be the best one in the city. You will be racing against different crews and then choose to represent Tuner, Muscle, or Sports class cars. Of course, you get to customize the performance and visuals of your car. Carbon brought in the new canyon Duel and Drift race modes to the game.
- Release Date: 30 October 2006
- Platforms: PC, macOS, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, GameCube, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS
Need for Speed: Payback
When NFS Payback was announced, people weren’t happy with the direction where it was going. Mainly because it simply diverted itself from what most NFS games are usually about. In Payback, you get to play as three different characters each good in a particular style of racing. The game has an interesting storyline but when it came to upgrading your vehicle, it required you to do more work and sometimes even repeat a number of race events just to level up yourself and unlock performance parts.
In terms of graphics, Payback has good graphics and does look good in 2022. Payback has a lot of fun drift challenges that you can play through, thanks to the lovely curved roads that are available in plenty.
- Release Date: 10 November 2017
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Need for Speed 2015
Need for Speed 2015 is an overall good game that misses out on graphics and even handling physics. A lot of people would easily say that NFS 2015 is better than Payback and it actually is. For starters, you have proper NFS-styled races and events to take part in as well as car customization options. You can however improve Need for Speed 2015 by making use of mods such as the Unite Mod that improves the game by miles.
- Release Date: 3rd November 2015
- Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
This concludes the list of best Need for Speed games to play. While there might have been some games that we might have not added to the list, you can always feel free to comment on which NFS game you think should have made it to the list. Need for Speed No Limits is a mobile game that isn’t liked by everyone because of a number of reasons. With a new Need for Speed releasing in December, what do you think is the best Need for Speed game of all time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.