Logo for Byte Magazine at Ball State University

The top five greatest 'Need for Speed' games

by Christian Dixie The Need for Speed series is one of the most beloved racing games of all time. Electronic Arts is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the game this year, and I thought I’d share my favorite Need For Speed games that I’ve played over the years. There are so many distinctive features that have made it what it is today: the fast cars, customization, cops, open world, etc. Get ready racing fans, because we’re going to go on a nostalgic trip as I share my top five Need For Speed games.

Image from Amazon

#5: Need for Speed: Carbon (2006)

Need for Speed: Carbon is one of my personal favorites. I enjoyed playing this game on my PlayStation 3, escaping from the cops, customizing my car the way I want, and just roaming around Palmont City, progressing through the game and unlocking cars as I win races. The nostalgic feeling of being in pursuit and escaping after hitting a spike strip in my Nissan Skyline R34 GTR was one of my favorite moments from playing this game. The coolest element of Carbon is the ability to play along with crew members as you progress. If you don’t win a race but a crew member does, that counts as a win and helps alleviate the need to finish first in races.
Image from the Need for Speed Wiki

#4: Need for Speed: Underground 2 (2004)

Need for Speed: Underground 2 marked the first game in the series to feature an open-world map that players can explore. Easily one of my favorite things about this game is the open world and getting to roam Bayview in my customized car and being able to add upgrades to max out my vehicle’s performance. Underground 2 even has SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. Customization options include neons, trunk neons, trunk customization by adding subwoofers to the trunk of your car, spinning rims, body kits, and much much more.
Image from eBay

#3: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is one of the best games I’ve ever played. This game allows the option to play as either a cop or a racer. One of my favorite moments from this game is playing as a cop and destroying all of the racers by sending helicopters that drop spike strips, roadblocks, and EMP to stop them in their tracks. Playing online with other players in Hot Pursuit makes it even more fun than it already was when you played in single player mode.
Image from the Need for Speed Wiki

#2: Need for Speed: Underground (2003)

In 2003, EA decided to step away from the scenic routes and exotic cars from previous games toward tuner cars and street racing. Need for Speed: Underground tried to duplicate the success of The Fast and the Furious (2001), and it paid off. This was the game that got me into the Need for Speed series in the first place because the customization drew me in. Underground focuses on street racing and comes with a lot of customization options. It also has a wide range of Japanese tuner cars like the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra, as well as European tuner cars, like the Volkswagen Golf.
Image from Reddit

#1: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is the best game in the entire series. It has the perfect mix of vehicles and it's the first game with cops since Hot Pursuit 2 (2002). I’ve put so many hours into this game trying to make my way up “ The Blacklist 15,” escaping from cops and racking up bounty from every pursuit I get into. The most iconic element about this game is the BMW M3 GTR. In the beginning of the game’s story, your vehicle is taken by Razor after he puts an oil leak in the car, right before a pink slip race. The car ends up stopping toward the end of the race, causing Razor to win by default. It's up to the player to work up the blacklist and eventually race against him to win the car back. The Need for Speed franchise has produced some of the most memorable games, and these five games are my personal favorites. Congrats to EA and Need for Speed on 25 years of the franchise!
Images: Featured Image: