It's probably not too far out of turn to say that Criterion's rendition of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was the best thing to bear the name Need for Speed in several years. It's also probably reasonable to say that if you enjoyed Hot Pursuit, you probably felt some twinge of disappointment with the lackluster effort that was last year's Black Box-developed effort, Need for Speed: The Run. Well, you needn't worry about EA playing developer switch-up any longer, as Criterion has officially taken the reins of the Need for Speed series for itself.
The news comes from a Game Informer interview (via Polygon) with Criterion VP Alex Ward, saying, "Our stamp's going to be in everything you see in Need for Speed and Burnout going forward in the future."
"It's not going to be spread anymore across different companies. Different studios have had a crack at it — it's definitely a Criterion gig now," he said. "Going forward now, with Most Wanted and what we'll do in the future [will have], shall we say, a strong Criterion involvement."
Criterion's upcoming update of NFS: Most Wanted drew a number of raves from critics at E3 this year, including our own Jeff Gerstmann. As for Burnout, there hasn't been any major release in the series since the critically acclaimed, but marginally sold Burnout Paradise. Ward, sadly, didn't say anything to G.I. about a potential Burnout sequel, though to be fair, elements of the Burnout games have been seeping their way into Need for Speed ever since Criterion got its hands on the franchise.
I have no complaints personally about this move, as Criterion has yet to really disappoint me with any driving game they've produced. Of course, now we're left to wonder what the hell Black Box is up to now. Skate 4? Helping with NHL stuff? Nothing at all?