Sit up straight, young ‘un. Back in my day, when DRM was only beginning to become a pain in the ass and Bobby Kotick was still loved the world over, we had a few entries into the Need for Speed series called Undergound and Underground 2. Achieving legendary status in a short amount of time thanks to the success of the contemporary Fast and Furious franchise, both of these games still see regular play everywhere. Technically, they also had connected storylines (you sort-of played as the same protagonist in both), and this was continued in Most Wanted (the good one) and Carbon. The tradition of the car tuner arcade racer died with Carbon and we’ve never returned to that genre.
Until now. Electronic Arts put up a teaser last night that seems to reveal a new Underground-style Need for Speed, and its being revealed on 21 May 2015.
The teaser was originally a dark image with just the blue text on the Need for Speed official Facebook page. Some elements of the picture can be seen, but they are very faint. After the picture popped up on Facebook, NeoGAF forumites took on the challenge of trying to uncover what the picture was hiding. The result, after some more colour and image enhancements, is pixelated and pretty rough around the edges, but its what we have to work with so far.
The cars here are a Toyota 86 in the background and a Porsche 964 (a model from the early 90’s that belonged to the 911 family) in the foregound. Looking closely, the Porsche has flared wheel arches and a very large spoiler. You can make out a custom spoiler on the rear of the 86 as well. In the background is a city – perhaps it is Bayview? The cars are turning on what looks like a narrow freeway off-ramp and there isn’t a mountain to one side, so it probably isn’t going to be like Carbon either with those insane hillside drifts.
If this is what we all think it is (and the mention of “the return of NFS” hints that it is), this will be a massive departure from what EA has been trying to do with the franchise for the past few years. You might have read Miklos’ review of Need for Speed Rivals and thought the low score was a one-time thing, but it’s unfortunately been that way for years – with exception taken to Pro Street, Shift, and Hot Pursuit, almost every other addition to the series has been well received by critics, but often poorly received by fans of the series.
Ghost Games is handling development on this one, based on a blog post by Executive Producer Marcus Nilsson made in 2014:
“Everyone here at Ghost Games in Gothenburg feels passionate about the Need for Speed franchise and Rivals was just the first step for us. We exist to make games that are constantly improving… games that push the boundaries of technology and innovation. Most importantly, we exist to make games that excite our fans.
We are already deep in development on our next game and want to make this promise to you: we will listen to you. We’re going to give you the game you’ve been asking for. It will be the game you deserve, but to do that will take us some time.
We’ve made the decision to not release a Need for Speed in 2014, so we can work towards a highly innovative Need for Speed in 2015. An experience built on a foundation we know you’ll greatly look forward to.”
Don’t go breaking my heart, EA. I’m watching you like a hawk.