• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Which "era" of Need For Speed games do you think is the best?

Which era is the best?

  • The Classic Era

    Votes: 76 41.1%
  • The Underground Era

    Votes: 97 52.4%
  • The Identity Crisis Era

    Votes: 9 4.9%
  • The Modern Era

    Votes: 3 1.6%

  • Total voters


Bear in mind, the following list is pretty arbitrary and I basically came up with it during a toilet break (where best ideas are born) so take it for what you will. I also didn't include the mobile or online-only titles since I never played them, and that online game is dead now anyway. A shame, though, it seemed like a cool idea but it was long dead before I even bothered to look it up.


The Classic Era:
The Need For Speed - Need For Speed 2 - Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit - High Stakes/Road Challenge - Porsche Unleashed - Hot Pursuit 2
All part of the classic series where the primary focus was on exotic cars, police chases, and racing through a series of open road circuits located around a variety of different locations, set to a collection of rock and techno music tracks. All absolute classics that may not be the most pleasant games to look at these days, and with the exception of HP2 the gameplay is positively quaint. Nevertheless, there's an undeniable sense of longing for the simpler times hanging in the air whenever I go back to play them.

The Underground Era, a.k.a. The Street Racing Era
Underground - Underground 2 - Most Wanted - Carbon - Pro Street - Undercover
This era saw the most successful decade for Need For Speed brand, but sadly ended on a complete dud of a game. Regardless, mid-2000s was a period of import tuners, illegal street racing, and some of the best licensed soundtracks for the series. Not my favorite theme overall, but damn if Underground 2 and Most Wanted aren't fun to play, even to this day.

The Identity Crisis Era
Shift - Hot Pursuit (2010) - Shift 2 Unleashed - The Run - Most Wanted (2012)
This is where the series started going off the rails a little bit in my opinion, because each of those games feel drastically different from each other and because each one was made by a different developer, there simply wasn't any clear and consistent vision behind any of those games, aside from the logo. From simcade, to reboot of the classic era, to another simcade, to whatever the fuck The Run was supposed to be, to a gimped Burnout Paradise clone that was missing everything that made Paradise fun... It was just all over the place. On a positive note, though, at least we got 3 good games out of this era of experimentation. I must assume that after failure of Undercover, EA apparently was trying to find the next fad comparable with what kicked off the Underground era.

The Modern Era, a.k.a. The Frostbite Era
Rivals - Need For Speed - Payback - Heat - Unbound
Even though the series continued with the trend where each game went for a different motif, I think that what finally started to bind those titles together is a bit of consistency in the overall direction for the series. Similarly to how Black Box helmed the Underground era, now the series had a new dedicated development studio, and it also started using the same engine from game to game, had a driving model and physics felt like each game actually belongs in the same series, and it carried over some consistent features that were first introduced at various points in the past (with some minor exceptions). Including car customisation, open world maps, arcade gameplay style, police chases, etc. Although, regrettably, I feel like games from this era include some of the worst entries in the series, with each one suffering from its own unique set of problems that always got in the way of fully enjoying them. This consistency that I mentioned also came with how consistently mediocre those games feel.

So, which one is it?

Also, if you were to pick one, which is your absolute top Need For Speed game?
Last edited:


Underground 1&2 and Most Wanted

Ad-Rock Reaction GIF by Beastie Boys


Of the 4 NFS games I owned in my life
  1. Need for Speed: High Stakes
  2. Need for Speed: Underground
  3. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
  4. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (this game stunk)
I liked the classic non-tuner era best - customizing was fun in Underground but the courses got kinda repetitive (haven't played any of the newer ones so I guess it's not fair, I hear Underground 2 and Most Wanted are good NFS tuner games).
Last edited:


Underground 2 is among the greatest games of all time. Pay Xzibit and Brooke Burke some royalties and release it on steam ffs... I can't run the old version on my rig or emulate the PS2 one
Last edited:


Gold Member
Its hard, because the classic era (NFS 2+ specifically for me, I don't know if I ever played the original game) is formative for me, I had such fun in NFS III: Hot Pursuit back then. However, Underground 1+2 and Most Wanted were fucking amazing and some of the fav games of all time, Hot Pursuit (2010) was brilliant as well but everything after that, (even Most Wanted (2015) and Rivals) weren't very good. If I have to pick its the 2nd era I guess.

Needs to go back to the tuner phase but without the story being such a big part of the game, I believe Underground 2 had a story with cutscenes but thats not the reason people love it, they love it because they were able to pick their favourite car and tune it to infinity while putting silly but cool body kits on it.


The underground era. Most wanted 05 is a top ten racing game of all time. But hot pursuit 2010 came out in the identity crisis era and that game is fucking amazing as well. That being said, unbound is a major return to form for the series, and i would absolutely recommend it to lapsed fans.

Mr Moose

Underground, maybe most wanted. I think I still have the discs somewhere. I might be confusing Hot Pursuit with another one but I think that was good.


Generationally I'm from the Underground era (and I really liked them a lot in my early teens, especially Underground 2).

But my heart goes out to the classics, I remember playing NFS Hot Pursuit, Road Challenge and Porsche Unleashed on PSX in my childhood and I've irreplaceable memories of them.


do not tempt fate do not contrain Wonder Woman's thighs do not do not
Street Racing Era was the best Era overall.

But the best games were:
  • Most Wanted'05
  • Hot Pursuit 2 - PS2 version
  • Hot Pursuit'10


Classic Era by far for me.

NFS 3 / 4 / 5 and HP 2 (strictly the Ps2 version only) is the best run of NFS ever imo.

What's cool is that back then each platform got different versions. 3 and 4, the PS1 version was great, but the PC version was another level, especially with 4 which had a really awesome career mode on Pc and it also included all the NFS 3 tracks.
NFS 5 PC version was the GOAT, PS1 version was much more arcadey, but it was still good.

HP2.. the PC / Xbox / GC versions were meh, but the PS2 version was fantastic - much better car handling and career mode.

Sidney Prescott

Gold Member
Underground era. Still play the games even today and I have a complete blast with them. They are just the perfect street racer games for me, and with a banging soundtrack to boot.

Most Wanted (2005) is really good too, especially the Blacklist races.


I only played Most Wanted U and thought that it was a pretty good game. Never been that interested in the series.
Most wanted 2012 is a great game by all accounts, it was just being compared to the last criterion entry before that point, hot pursuit, and that game is a borderline masterpiece
Top Bottom