When Want for Velocity Warmth releases this November, it’ll mark the twenty fourth entry in Digital Arts’ long-running racing sport anthology. Warmth takes the franchise in a brand new course, however attracts influences from the franchise’s previous. In the course of the day, you’ll earn fame and cash by collaborating in skilled occasions; at evening, you’ll fend off arrest in unlawful avenue races.

Warmth’s idea is an attractive one, however this sequence wants greater than a intelligent premise to make up for its current missteps. Which occurred to get us considering: in a franchise as huge and numerous as Want for Velocity, which video games rise to the highest? The model has hardly been a mannequin of consistency over time, although it is actually additionally delivered its share of unforgettable, white-knuckle thrills.

Thus, we set about rating each mainline Want for Velocity sport. Mainline, on this case, excludes a number of spin-offs: the Shift titles, NFS Nitro for the Wii and DS, and NFS World for the PC. All the things else is truthful sport. This is the way it all shook out.

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

18. NFS: Undercover (2008)

Primed as a return to kind for Want for Velocity after the lapse in course that was 2007’s ProStreet, Undercover actually captures the sequence’ rebellious nature in a means its predecessor doesn’t. Nonetheless, that’s not sufficient to make it sport. Between its uninteresting open world, repetitive marketing campaign occasions, graphics harking back to a cellular title and bevy of technical points, Undercover winds up feeling like a shallow jab at replicating the success of Most Wished, with none of that title’s appeal or polish. The truth is, it is best described as under-cooked. Which is unusual, contemplating Undercover had been in improvement for significantly longer than the video games that instantly preceded it.

17. Want for Velocity Payback (2017)

A shameless try to money in on Quick & Livid fervor roughly a decade after the movie franchise first grew to become related, Payback largely repeats the sins of Ghost Video games’ 2015 franchise reboot, however this time gussied up in Hollywood apparel. And whereas Payback continues to be completely dismal to drive, the distress is compounded by the sport’s unbearably overwrought card system for car upgrades and closely scripted police chases fraught with cutscenes. That pairing of poor sport design choices, coupled with Payback’s over-reliance on microtransactions, obliterates any final shred of enthusiasm anybody may in any other case have for the sport. No less than it’s type of good to take a look at. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

16. Want for Velocity (2015)

This one hurts. Not since Capcom’s Auto Modellista has a racing sport so completely captured a taste of automobile tradition followers had been craving for, but been so inexplicably dreadful to play. NFS 2015 had all the things going for it: a transparent imaginative and prescient, phenomenal visuals for the time and probably the most highly effective customization engine the sequence had seen as much as that time. But, it’s all mercilessly undone, crushed and torn past recognition by the least intuitive dealing with mannequin ever to grace a triple-A racing sport. Thematically, 2015 had the conviction to redefine Want for Velocity for an thrilling new period. As an alternative, it added yet one more notch to the franchise’s lengthy checklist of failed reboots. 

15. NFS: Carbon (2006) 

On the outset, Carbon would not do an entire lot to distance itself from Most Wished earlier than it. Nonetheless, the extra you play it, the extra you notice it someway additionally fails to acknowledge what made Most Wished a fan favourite to start with. The perpetual evening setting actually would not do Carbon any favors, nor does its personality-less metropolitan map that holds few, if any, memorable options. All these years later, I can nonetheless keep in mind my favourite cooldown spots and stretches of highway in Most Wished. Carbon, conversely, has aged into one darkish, murky blur. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

14. NFS: ProStreet (2007)

The factor about Want for Velocity’s lawful flip is that it wasn’t a lot a foul thought — simply badly executed. Launched in the identical yr as Codemasters’ generation-defining Grid, ProStreet equally makes an attempt to seize a grittier aspect of circuit racing with a simulator aptitude, with out the sterility of Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport. The issue for developer Black Field proved a well-known one: half-baked physics that render sure automobiles undriveable, coupled with a predisposition for gimmicks (like a minigame through which you warmth up your tires earlier than drag racing) that had been no substitute for a satisfying driving expertise. It’s a disgrace, as a result of ProStreet did have a killer monitor checklist that included underappreciated gems like Japan’s Autopolis and Ebisu, the recently-revived Portland Worldwide Raceway and even the historic Avus loop in Germany. 

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13. NFS: Most Wished (2012)

Definitely one of the vital polarizing entries within the sequence, Criterion’s Most Wished is usually remembered by those that performed it as Burnout Paradise with licensed automobiles. And whereas there’s some benefit to that evaluation, it is also fairly unfair to Paradise. That sport had a world teeming with thrilling moments, furnished with limitless, enjoyable occasions and a physics engine that inspired a will to find. Most Wished 2012 has, properly, none of that. 

It’s additionally remarkably brief, omits automobile customization completely and incorporates AI rubber banding to a level that places Mario Kart’s to disgrace (a formidable feat, we should admit). There’s little question the wizards at Criterion might have made a extra becoming tribute to one of the vital iconic entries within the franchise, particularly as a result of they already completed precisely that with the extra well-rounded Sizzling Pursuit reboot in 2010. However one thing about this tackle Most Wished fills you with that nagging feeling of sport rushed to incompletion.

12. Street & Monitor Presents The Want for Velocity (1994)

There’s nothing egregiously improper with the primary Want for Velocity; it is simply not notably enjoyable or noteworthy in gentle of the highs the franchise would rise to sooner or later. (Then once more, it’s far superior to the lows.) At a time when licensed automobiles had been nonetheless a rarity in racing video games, The Want for Velocity supplied a swath of probably the most fascinating sports activities automobiles on the earth, with an consideration to element its contemporaries lacked. These automobiles had inside views, had been modeled on their distinctive specs (owing to that Street & Monitor tie-in) and got here accompanied with oodles of CD-ROM-filling multimedia content material, like press photographs and movies. It sounds quaint by right now’s requirements, although for a era of avid gamers and automobile lovers that grew up with Lamborghini Diablos postered on their bed room partitions, it was fairly thrilling. It’s only a disgrace that the gameplay is diminished by exceedingly lengthy, extensive and boring point-to-point tracks. 

11. NFS: The Run (2011)

You possibly can’t fault The Run for its ambition, which noticed Want for Velocity shed the essential circuit racing shtick to give attention to one, lengthy interstate odyssey spanning coast to coast. The idea had some potential, however the brevity of the marketing campaign, which clocked in at roughly 4 hours, coupled with an over-reliance on cutscenes, scripted segments and non-driving quick-time occasions, made this racer really feel sort of brief on precise racing. And when you completed the marketing campaign, there wasn’t a lot of something left to do. Though the Run exhibited flashes of brilliance, historical past will sadly keep in mind it greatest as Black Field’s closing stab on the sequence earlier than being shuttered in 2013.  

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

10. Want For Velocity Rivals (2013)

Whereas it’s truthful to rag on Rivals for being bare-bones in that typical cross-generational means (it launched on each last- and modern-gen consoles), the twentieth entry within the sequence deserves extra respect than it usually will get. Spiritually, Rivals shares a lot in frequent with Criterion’s Sizzling Pursuit reboot that got here out three years earlier, however expands the format to make the most of a reliable open world. The dynamic climate system current in sure variations of the sport does loads to reinforce the environmental immersion, and the dealing with mannequin is remarkably composed in comparison with Ghost Video games’ later iterations. Trying again, you type of want there was extra to do within the marketing campaign than fulfill imprecise aims, however Rivals is so robust at its core that the expertise was enjoyable even regardless of being aimless. 

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9. NFS: Underground (2003)

2003’s Underground marks the primary time Want for Velocity was taken in a very new course — a tactic Digital Arts would repeatedly fall again on within the years following, at any time when the franchise appeared to fulfill a artistic lifeless finish. Whereas the pivot to tuner tradition was controversial on the time, Underground stays a reliable, properly put-together avenue racer with an inspiring customization suite, at a time when customization was precedence primary for avenue racers. Paradoxically, what holds it again from a better rating on this checklist is that Underground 2 exists, and expanded on all the things the primary completed to nice impact. 

8. NFS: Excessive Stakes (1999)

With Excessive Stakes, developer EA Canada utilized the unique Sizzling Pursuit’s revolutionary chase mechanic to a completely fleshed-out single-player marketing campaign that noticed gamers buying automobiles and racing for pinks for the primary time within the sequence. On reflection, it was a daring spin on NFS’ established components as much as that time, and an astute one given how Gran Turismo established the car-PG style the yr prior. What holds Excessive Stakes again is that it strays too far in that course, to the purpose of curbing the sequence’ trademark pick-up-and-play enjoyment. The tracks are far too boring to justify their size, and the emphasis on gratuitous multi-race championships makes the expertise really feel like a slog from the very begin. From a technical standpoint, Excessive Stakes occurs to be one of many franchise’s excessive factors; it is only a disgrace it is such a chore, too. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

7. NFS: Porsche Unleashed (2000) 

It could be exhausting to recall now, however as soon as upon a time, Want for Velocity was the one sport through which you would drive a Porsche, because of an almost 20-year exclusivity settlement between Digital Arts and the famed German automaker. Like most exclusivity offers, nothing worthwhile got here of it, and EA by no means used the license to nice impact — properly, apart from the one time it did. Porsche Unleashed, generally known as Porsche 2000 in some components of the world, contains a sweeping roster of the producer’s most important manufacturing automobiles (and even a number of of its race automobiles), together with a marketing campaign charting the corporate’s storied legacy. In that means, it nonetheless stands as one of many sequence’ most bold entries, even when the PlayStation model specifically suffered from considerably dodgy dealing with, and even when the older, slower automobiles are a bit boring to drive. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

6. Want for Velocity II (1997)

Sometimes neglected within the franchise’s legacy, Want for Velocity II deserves recognition for ditching the quite uneventful freeway cruising motif of the primary sport in favor of a number of distinctive, epic programs, every brimming with wild moments and true character. The automobile roster, too, is arguably the best of the franchise’s basic period. Whereas it solely included 9 automobiles, these had been probably the most breathtaking supercars the late ‘90s had to offer, inspiring a generation of budding enthusiasts to lust after the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F50, as well as oddities like the Ford GT90 and lost-to-time Isdera Commendatore 112i. Add in a masterpiece of a soundtrack from Saki Kaskas and Rom Di Prisco, and it’s straightforward to see why Want For Velocity II left an indelible impression on those that had the fortune of taking part in it 22 years in the past. It’s only a disgrace it seems to be horrible subsequent to the later PlayStation iterations, and that it’s solely gotten uglier with age. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

5. NFS: Sizzling Pursuit (2010)

Far and away the closest Want For Velocity has come to recapturing the magic of its golden period, Criterion Video games’ Sizzling Pursuit reboot doesn’t a lot resemble the 1998 title of the identical title, however as a substitute feels extra like a modernization of the very first Want for Velocity. EA’s visible wizards at DICE took cost on the sport’s environmental design, leading to a stunning expertise that evokes the type of epic highway exams and journeys you’d count on to see watching High Gear or The Grand Tour. Sadly, recalcitrant, imprecise physics considerably mitigate the enjoyable, as does an overabundance of extensive roads that don’t interact or problem gamers. Total it’s nonetheless a blast, although you get the sense that if the sport took correct benefit of its open world and tightened up the dealing with, it’d high this checklist. 

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4. NFS III: Sizzling Pursuit (1998)

The primary Sizzling Pursuit does all the things proper. From a technical standpoint, it’s a showcase for the PlayStation. The physics rank among the many most intuitive and satisfying ever to grace the sequence. The tracks retain the character of NFS II’s, however are extra grounded and polished. After which, final however actually not least, there are the cop chases. The balancing and basic design of this sport’s pursuit system — from the habits of the police, to the ticketing system and particularly the introduction of highway blocks and spike strips — stays the sequence’ best contribution to the medium. With Sizzling Pursuit, EA not solely realized the potential of the Want for Velocity model — it cemented the franchise’s identification. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

3. NFS: Underground 2 (2004)

The deep, darkish secret in regards to the tuning fad of the early aughts is that it resulted in some fairly poor racing video games, as a consequence of each main writer’s eagerness to money in. Although, that’s to not say there weren’t reliable exceptions. Alongside Rockstar’s Midnight Membership 3, Underground 2 is without doubt one of the period’s best achievements. Increasing upon the scope of the unique, the sequel gives extra various occasion varieties, automobiles and customization choices, all inside an open world you need to discover. It nails the basics too, dealing with properly and looking out incredible for the time. Fifteen years on, it’s not exhausting to acknowledge why Underground 2 has achieved cult standing amongst followers — or a minimum of those that aren’t too bothered by the shortage of cop chases. 

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

2. NFS: Most Wished (2005)

Mixing the aesthetic and environments of the basic period installments with the open world and avenue racing tradition of the Underground period, Black Field’s 2005 entry has develop into the fashionable benchmark towards which each and every new Want for Velocity is in contrast. That is for good cause. In the event you loved Underground’s tight physics and avenue focus, however regretted the shortage of cop chases and wasn’t enthralled by the strictly nighttime metropolitan setting, Most Wished checked all of the bins. 

The town of Rockport is the proper backdrop for Most Wished’s infamous and addictive hour-long pursuits. The truth is, Rockport stays one of many best open worlds in any racer because of a mixture of completely different environments, spanning dense, city streets to winding mountain roads, that every maintain one thing for everybody. Bridging the hole between the franchise’s two extremes ought to’ve been an unimaginable job, but Most Wished pulls it off brilliantly — cringeworthy full-motion video cutscenes however.

(Picture credit score: Digital Arts)

1. NFS: Sizzling Pursuit 2 (2002)

At its core, Want for Velocity needs to be about two issues: operating from the regulation and attempting to complete first. Sizzling Pursuit 2 perfected each. The pitch is remarkably easy. Begin with an all-star forged of the world’s most prestigious, lust-worthy supercars. Supply an eclectic number of tracks set in unique locales, teeming with ingenious monitor design the place not a single nook or second is wasted. And — maybe most critically — encourage gamers to danger victory and freedom with a responsive physics mannequin that’s accessible but rewarding. Most Wished ‘05 may have the element of surprise going for it, thanks to the breadth of its open world. However, Hot Pursuit 2’s mastery of arcade racing fundamentals makes it timeless. Seventeen years on, it’s nonetheless an exemplar of the style  — as long as you’re taking part in the vastly superior PS2 port, in fact. 

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