The Need for Speed

a game by EA Games, and Electronic Arts
Genre: Racing
Platforms: PC, Playstation, 3DO
Editor Rating: 7.9/10, based on 7 reviews, 11 reviews are shown
User Rating: 7.1/10 - 7 votes
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See also: Need For Speed Series
The Need for Speed
The Need for Speed
The Need for Speed
The Need for Speed

Statistics show that 93.2% (MUFF poll, '94) of males aged between 12 and 14 have pictures of topless girls and/or supercars on their bedroom walls. Go on admit it - you were once a dreamer too, weren't you?

Of course, as you get older you realise that you have to lower your standards a tad. You may have some experience of handling something slightly inferior to your dream model by the time you're 18, but what about the cars? Well, compromise is needed here too. I'm afraid. Face it: you're never going to own a Ferrari 512TR, okay? You're just going to have to make do with a simulation.

Electronic Arts can't give you the chance to "sample" Cindy Crawford (not yet anyway), but with The Need for Speed (INFS) it can at least let you take one of eight high-performance monsters for a spin, including an Acura nsx, Dodge Viper rt/io, Lamborghini Diablo vt, and the easy-to-handle but slow Porsche 911 (well, when I say slow...). The objective of the game? What d'ya think? To drive bloody fast, of course.

Test Drive

The PC version follows the 3do original released earlier this year which, while almost universally acclaimed for its exceptional graphics and slick presentation, suffered from a couple of major design flaws. Firstly, it didn't really give the impression of high speed (unfortunate considering the name), and worse, there were just three tracks.

Thankfully the beta pc version, which we've test driven (hem), not only shifts at a fair old lick, but includes all of the original features and more. Aside from racing against a computer-controlled challenger, two players can now compete by either driving alternately or head-to-head via modem/serial link.

And then there's the individually sampled engine noises and effects (in Dolby Surround Sound), the multimedia guide to each of the cars, the full replay option and, ooooh, lots more besides. And the tracks? There's now a grand total of eight, including a test circuit with nifty high-speed banked corners. Hurrah! Aside from this test track, all of the races take place on public roads. You see TNFS isn't your typical arcade racer. This is a real driving sim. Sounds boring? Well imagine travelling at i3omph, nudging your challenger's car from the side, with cars milling around, covering both lanes ahead of you and with the image of a police car (with sirens blazing) filling up your rear view mirror. Still sound boring?

I luurrve to handle you...

But it's the handling of the cars that should ensure TNFS is as popular with pc owners as it is with 3DO-ers. Never has the driving experience been so accurately portrayed in a computer game. You can even do hand-brake turns! You see, EA hasn't just made the computer models up; it has actually recreated each car's handling attributes, the body roll, the acceleration, lateral g capability and so on, by studying the physics models and consulting writers from the top American car magazine Road 6 Track. And the results are very, very impressive. So just imagine what the finished version's going to be like!

Download The Need for Speed

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

3DO

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Overview

Let's face it, a racing game is nothing new. I've been spinning around the hairpin turns of video race courses since my friend Joe got his first Atari set in 1979; racing is a natural for the video game format. So what would prompt Pioneer Productions and Electronic Arts to give us yet another racing game in Road and Track Presents The Need for Speed? Simple: the need to meet the challenge of producing the best video racing game yet. So, how'd they do?

Interface/Controls

The Need for Speed offers plenty of options for controlling the car, the camera views and the other elements of the game. Steer with a joystick, with the keyboard or simply by moving the mouse left or right; it's up to you. Use the keyboard to shift gears (or let the computer shift, if you like), to brake, to blow your horn. There's plenty you can do while you're racing. There's so much you can do, in fact, that I found it all a little overwhelming to keep track of and finally just concentrated on driving. In its control options, The Need for Speed goes beyond a mere racing game and becomes almost a driving simulation. Some people like that kind of thing. Me, I just wanted to race. I give Electronic Arts (EA) credit for creating a product that can appeal to both the simulation fan and the hey-I-just-want-to-drive-dammit player.

Graphics

The Need for Speed is richly endowed with graphics -- I enjoyed looking at it even when I was completely inept at playing it. The impressive look of the game should be no surprise, considering that it is presented by the people at Road and Track. Road and Track knows cars, knows racing, works hard to fuel the American lust for the automobile. And without a doubt Road and Track had in mind people who share their feelings when they endorsed The Need for Speed.

The look of the racing is detailed and impressively complete. You can choose from several different cars before each race -- Lamborghini Diablo, Dodge Viper, Mazda RX-7 and more -- each one accurately rendered both inside and out. Beyond the cars, the racecourses are nicely varied and many attempts have been made to create a realistic environment through which to drive. On the alpine course, for example you can drive from a bare roadway to one with snow and ice lying at the shoulder, all the while passing through dense groves of evergreen forest. At one point I even passed an alpine meadow where I caught a glimpse of an elk or a moose. I was going too fast to be sure which it was. As with many of the courses, the alpine course offers drivers the option of facing oncoming traffic. While the cars coming at you are more of the family station wagon/pick-up variety, they too are painstakingly detailed. The result is a truly engaging driving environment; an environment that draws your eye outside the car and above the road. A lot like real life, really.

Realism

To their credit, Pioneer Productions and Electronic Arts Canada do seem to have made an attempt to add to the racing formula even if they haven't changed it. The Need for Speed includes short action videos, still photos, performance reports, mechanical information and histories for each of the cars included. That does do a lot to build the illusion that you are truly operating a distinct automobile and not simple clones in different colors.

In addition to the splashy videos, as you race you can switch between three different camera views. You can easily recreate the experience of watching ESPN NASCAR races here by choosing Heli-Cam, which shows your car from above, or Tail-Cam view -- your car from behind. The most interesting, though, is the In-car view. Here you are given a steering wheel that responds to even your slightest flinch on the joystick or keyboard. Also, there's a fully detailed dash -- different for each car -- complete with air vents and other little details EA could easily have left out but, to their credit, didn't. There's a read-out across the top of the screen as well, telling you your speed, your position in the race and other vital statistics. And there's plenty of rich audio: roaring engines, blasting horns, crunching metal during crashes, even voices if you want them.

Completing the realism sweep is the fact that each car you choose not only differs in appearance, but in handling as well. As EA puts it: "The sophisticated physics model recreates the feel of the cars themselves; you'll notice the difference in handling, braking and just plain power." Yeah, I guess that's true, more or less. I don't know what a physics model is (and don't anybody tell me; I want to maintain a little mystery in my life) but I did notice as I drove that different cars performed better on different tracks. I did poorly on the alpine course in the Ferrari, for example, then switched to the Toyota Supra Turbo and stuck to the road much more effectively. Pretty good. So the cars stay on the road or don't, they are blazingly fast or they aren't, according to which one you choose. To create a game that allows for subtle differences like that is commendable. But I disagree that the game recreates the "feel of the cars." I still felt a distance between me and the car on the screen. I remember swiping my mom's Ford Escort when I was sixteen, rushing off to rendezvous with friends at Hardee's. That thing lumbered down the road; it was heavy, it drove like a pickle barrel -- as opposed to my brother-in-law's Porsche that corners like a whip. Those two cars feel different. The Need for Speed offers cars that look different and perform differently on the courses, but there's not much to feel here.

Setup and Installation

Setup is easy and user friendly. The box includes a PC CD-ROM reference card to walk users through installation on DOS-based machines as well as those running Windows 95. Chances are if you've ever installed a game or any other CD-ROM product before, you'll have no trouble setting up The Need for Speed. But if you do, the reference card includes no less than 10 pages of troubleshooting information plainly categorized to address separate elements of your system.

Head-to-Head Play

The Need for Speed really comes alive in head-to-head play. This game is enjoyable when racing against the computer, but computers never make mistakes; their thinking is limited and so there seems a finiteness to the possibilities in a human-computer race. But go against another human being and anything can happen. You drive not only against another car, but against another personality. The remoteness afforded by the modem connection took a little getting used to -- gone is the intimacy of two friends sitting side-by-side on the couch, racing each other on the TV screen. But there is a Chat Mode option which allows you to discuss the race when you're done. And to a certain extent, the modem remoteness contributes to the sense you're really driving a car: after all, if you race a friend in a real car (which you shouldn't do) you can't talk to them, laugh with them, deck them until it's all over anyway.

System Requirements

IBM or 100% compatible, 486DX2-66 Mhz or higher for VGA (320x200) gameplay, Pentium CPU with VLB/PCI video card for SVGA (640x480) gameplay, 8 MB RAM (400 K Conventional and 7,274,496 extended memory free required for 16-bit audio gameplay), MS-DOS 5.0 or higher, 2X CD-ROM drive, keyboard, 4 MB minimum hard drive space free (plus additional space for saved games), 256-color VESA-compatible SVGA (640x480) video card with 512K video RAM (VESA driver included)

Recommended: Pentium 90 Mhz CPU or faster, 256 color VESA-compatible VLB/PCI SVGA (640x480) video card with 512 K video RAM, Microsoft mouse with 7.04 and above or 100% compatible analog joystick or Thrustmaster Steering Wheel, 30 MB hard drive space free (plus additional space for saved games)

Reviewed on: 486DX2-80, 12 MB RAM, Diamond Stealth 64 1 MB Video Card

Bottom Line

Is this the best racing game ever made? Maybe. It's certainly one of the best I've played. There's nothing new in the basic idea behind it; the idea of car racing is about as simple as it gets. For that reason I'm not convinced that The Need for Speed will be able to fight off the boredom of players who've mastered it any better than other racing games that have come and gone before it. But what The Need for Speed has going for it is a great look and a level of realism that at this point is unmatched. It's conceivable that users might continue to return to The Need for Speed for the experience of driving as much as they will just to burn rubber and blow off steam. The Need for Speed scores a 92 out of 100 with me -- primarily for the great graphics and realism.

Gamers out there who think that they've mastered every driving game in existence are about to set out on a crash course! The Need For Speed is more like a driving simulation than anything else. You can select from eight exotic sports cars and race on six tracks, and then relive every inch of your race with special Track Replay and Highlights options! Three levels of play offer a challenge for everyone. Not since Mario Kart have I been so addicted to a video game.

THE GOOD

Race exotic cars from all over the world--for just $60!

THE BAD

The control on the outside needs some major tweaking before the games is released.

THE UGLY

If the crash scenes were any more detailed, you'd need a barf bag.

TAKE A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE WHERE THERE ARE NO RULES

If you feel the need for speed and enjoy going fast, get set for one wild ride as we take a trip through this game for the 3DO.

You can choose to drive a variety of well known, expensive, and highly desired cars.

As the driver, view the road from behind the wheel or from above the car. Look through your rearview mirror to see if anyone is on your tail.

A radar detector monitors the road ahead in case you exceed the speed limit. But that's the name of the game--driving fast and reckless is how this game is played.

Trying to outrun the police is part of the fun; just don't get caught!

If you don't like getting tickets, then you'd be better off playing Mario Kart. That's a game for people who like driving the speed limit.

Anything goes in this game, including driving in the wrong lane. It's a good idea to make sure nothing is coming, but even the crash scenes are incredible. Just try to avoid head-on collisions with police cars. Those are the type of crashes that will cause the smoke to really fly and will wreak havoc on your driving record.

It's no ordinary Sunday drive in the countryside. The digitized scenery Is breathtaking and adds to the game. Grassy knolls, rolling hills, slow winding curves, and towering cliffs await you.

The drives through the wooded areas are eerie yet exciting, and there are the straight-aways where you can shift it into fifth gear and really go for broke. Just try to stay between the yellow lines. It's a long way to the water, and cars don't float.

If you think you have the driving skills to push the envelope of speed and stay out of jail, then plug this game into your 3DO.

Ever dream of cranking up the speed and whipping through traffic like a maniac? With the stunning graphics and exotic sports cars in EA's phenomenal Need for Speed, you can blaze down the streets until adrenaline overload wipes you out.

Dream Cars

This game's premise is simple, but its car selection blows the competition off the road. The sleek Lamborghini Diablo VT, Ferrari 512TR, Viper RT/IO, and five other actual vehicles will leave car buffs drooling.

Once you've chosen a car, you toe the line against the X-Man, the CPU-controlled foe, and dash through twisty streets packed with Sunday drivers. Nope, there's no two-player action - a serious disappointment - but the vicious bump-and-grind business from the X-Man makes you sweat.

You steer from three perspectives (behind the wheel, behind the car, and distant behind the car), and a highlight reel records intense moments from seven impressive camera angles.

Smashing Scenery

Three tracks snake through city, coastal, and alpine scenarios, showing off dim, winding tunnels and snow-crusted mountains. Each course is broken down into three segments that take you through increasingly harder regions. You steer toward the finish in each segment, which means you compete in nine separate races, but the fastest overall time on each course scores the win.

This racing action is the most realistic yet. the most realistic yet.

Digitized graphics serve up gorgeously detailed backgrounds, wild spins and flips, and full-motion video clips that show off the cars. The accurate, gripping sound effects intensify the realism. The only flaw pops up in the cut scenes, where the X-Man chimes in with some supposedly hard trash talkin'. You'll quickly silence this idiotic dork at the Options screen.

You'll Feel this Need

Superb controls put you firmly in the driver's seat. The subtle differences in the handling, shifting, and acceleration of each vehicle infuse the game with taut realism and fascinating variety.

With eight cars to master across nine races and three difficulty levels, this game provides enough challenges to satisfy both granny drivers and NASCAR pros. You won't get any closer to driving these killer cars without winning the lottery, so strap in and take off!

ProTips:

  • Rear-end the X-Man slightly off center and at high speed to send him dying into the rail.
  • Avoid congested traffic by passing on the shoulder.
  • If you're about to crash, nail the brakes, and you'll usually sneak away with a spinout.
  • If your car accelerates faster than the X-Man's, hold the wheel to the right before you pop the clutch at the start; and you'll nudge him off the road for an early lead.
  • If you start fishtailing, immediately downshift and steer counter to each swerve to straighten out.
  • Downshift to reduce your speed through tight turns to gain more control than braking allows.

This very cool racing game puts you behind , the wheel of the cars like I Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Corvettes, Porsches, and more. Extremely realistic full-motion video highlights the action on three California tracks: Coastal, City, and Alpine. You can view the action from inside the car, behind the car, and far behind the car. Sharp dashboard controls make the inside view the most interesting as you cruise to cool engine sounds and classy CD tunes.

Road & Track is set to bring white-knuckled racing from the 3DO to the PC. You'll be able to drive eight exotic sports cars: a Lamborghini Diablo VT, Ferrari 512TR, Dodge Viper RT/10, Porsche 911, Acura NSX, Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra Turbo, and, of course, Chevy Corvette ZR-1. Three driving views and six replay views capture the driving action.

Do you feel the need for speed? Electronic Arts' highly successful PC and 3DO game is making its way onto the PlayStation, and not a moment too soon.

The big-time driving fanatics in our office crowded around this one the moment it came in. We had to beat them back and threaten them with having cold pizza for the next company luncheon just so we could get near the game.

Road & Track Magazine is once again attaching its name to Need for Speed.

There are seven different race locations: three open road tracks, three closed circuit tracks, plus one bonus track.

You can race with one of eight different high-performance cars and four different types of races.

In the One-player Mode, you can race against computerized opponents in a time trial or a standard race. There's also a Two-player Option that allows you to race with a friend on a splitscreen, or race with a friend using the PlayStation link cable, too.

The sound effects of this game definitely add to the gameplay experience, from the roar of the engines to the incredibly fast-paced soundtrack. Each race can be viewed from a variety of different camera angles. The crash sequences are spectacular and die-hard fans of racing games will want to gear up for the impending release of this game for the PS.

  • MANUFACTURER - EA Sports
  • THEME - Racing
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2

Need for Speed startled 3DO gamers last year with its top-notch racing, and the smokin' new PlayStation version is revved up to supply even more high-octane thrills. The game's eight exotic cars, including a Lamborghini Diablo and Ferrari 512TR, will instantly entice racing fans. Better yet, EA augmented the 3DO course lineup with a new threesome of tracks (six in all) and two new modes that pit you against all the other cars.

Along with the improved responsiveness in the controls, this Need plays like a new-and much deeper-game. Faster, smoother graphics and those same great at-the-track engine and tire effects complete what looks to be a killer two-player racing game tor the PlayStation.

Need for Speed guns it onto the PlayStation with a sharp conversion of the top 3DO racing game. While it lacks Ridge Racer's slick techno edge, it more than compensates with a sweet selection of exotic cars and white-knuckle sim-style driving.

Burnin' Rubber

Need peels out with the same eight exotic cars (see sidebar) and three diverse modes that let you race against the clock, another driver, or a pack of seven opponents. Two players can use a link cable or bump fenders in the slightly sluggish, but still intense, splitscreen mode.

The challenging straight-line City, Coastal, and Alpine tracks from the BDO version return, and three new circuit courses bring heated Ridge-style action to the mix. Other impressive new features include a handbrake, improved speedometer and tachometer displays, and daylight, dawn, and dusk settings.

With all these improvements, this Need is practically a sequel to the 3DO game, and it plays like one. The scenery rolls by at a blazing clip (much faster than the 3DO), and the impressive selection of racing styles provides deeper game-play and stronger replay value.

Solid controls back you up all the way. You'll have to practice hard to master each vehicle's unique handling, which should delight hardcore car buffs. Casual arcade racers may be frustrated by the sim-style realism, though.

You'll Feel This Need

Need's tracks send you rocketing down treacherous mountain roads and jam-packed city streets. The beautifully drawn backgrounds shine with bright colors and sharp details, but the cars have a blocky look that detracts from the realism. Classy full-motion video that shows off all the machines makes up the difference, though.

The outstanding sound effects really re-create that behind-the-wheel feel. Each car's engine purrs with its own authentic hum, but you'll turn down the cheesy metal-head rock.

My Ferrari, Please

It's hard to top the feeling of redlining a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, and Need for Speed's as close as most gamers will get! If you're a serious racing fan, this game's worth every cent.

ProTips:

  • Release the gas and downshift to slide through easier turns.
  • Capitalize on scarce straightaways by redlining your speed when they begin.
  • Take tough turns, like the hairpin before the finish in Autumn Valley, by releasing the gas, braking until you skid, then downshifting and punching the gas to pull through the turn.

A little slower in pace than Ridge Racer, but great fun all the same.

One of the many highlights of my trip to EA's offices in Vancouver was the chance to see this on the big screen with full sound. Need For Speed for the PlayStation looks a mighty bit better than its 3DO counterpart--great news for racing fans everywhere.

The major differences between this version and the 3DO one are in the graphics and sound. Both of these facets have been upgraded considerably, making an already great driving experience that much better. Also, expect much smoother scrolling and better control, making Need For Speed a worthy competitor against Ridge Racer and Tokyo Highway Rattle.

The sound, if you're lucky enough to have a Surround sound system in your home, will blow you away. You'll be able to hear cars coming up behind you, stuff bumping and scraping different areas of your car, and the different sounds created by your wheels on different surfaces. A truly immersive experience. Electronic Arts is very proud of this title, as they should be. A lot of time and effort went into this title, and it looks as though their sweat has paid off.

Snapshots and Media

Playstation Screenshots

3DO Screenshots

PC Screenshots

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