It's no huge secret that the Need for Speed series needs a bit of a kick in the pants. For my money, the last worthwhile game in the series was Need for Speed Most Wanted, and my love for that game is evenly split between the great police chases and the presence of Razor Callahan, the tough-talking slimeball that serves as your nemesis. The most recent game tried to take things back into the cop chase realm, but it fell flat. I'd place the blame on NFS Undercover's unstable frame rate and a weak performance from Maggie Q.
But enough about the past. Need for Speed is prepping for the future this morning, with announcement that EA is hard at work on at least three new games that will bear the Need for Speed badge. While EA's Black Box team appears to be touching most of the new games in some way, it looks like primary development for these games are being handled by other teams.
Need for Speed Shift will be a "first-person racing simulation" for PS3, 360, PSP, and PC. Development is being handled by Slightly Mad Studios, a new group that contains members who worked on games like GT Legends and GTR 2. Here's what the release has to say about the game itself:
Need for Speed SHIFT replicates the true feeling of racing high-end performance cars like never before. Players are thrust into the heart of the action with immersive and exciting features including a stunningly realistic first-person cockpit view camera and an all-new crash mechanic, providing an unrivaled sensation of the speed and feeling of racing a car on the extreme edge of control.
Shift (make that SHIFT) will be released this Fall.
Need for Speed Nitro is currently just a working title for EA Montreal's driving game for the Wii and DS. This one sounds like it's the closest thing to the previous games in the series, with an arcade-like focus and police chases. Again, here's what's up:
Gamers can build up their boost as they drift and drag behind their opponents and use it strategically to change the course of the race, but watch out for the cops! Offering a fresh and unique visual style, the game features a variety of licensed cars which can be fully customized to let the game reflect the player’s taste and personality. This evolutionary take on arcade racing, bringing back the best features found in Need for Speed games, comes exclusively to the Nintendo platforms this fall.
WATCH OUT FOR THE COPS!!!!
Need for Speed World Online is listed as being co-developed by Black Box and EA Singapore. It's a "Play 4 Free" style of online, open-world driving. It'll hit Asia this Summer and North America in the Winter. Take it away, press release!
Co-developed by Black Box and EA Singapore, Need for Speed World Online takes the race into the largest open world in the history of Need for Speed - designed exclusively for the PC. Beginning in Asia, this Play 4 Free action racing game will give Need for Speed fans access to licensed cars, parts and multiple game modes. Players will prove their racing supremacy through the sophisticated online matchmaking features and fully customize their profile and their ride.
Is it wrong for me to want to immediately say "Motor City Online" when I hear that EA's doing some kind of online-focused NFS game?
The AP weighed in on this story, and it claims that Black Box is also working on "a new action driving game." EA's VP of marketing, Keith Munro, is quoted as saying that the move to other developers gives the Black Box team "time to retrench." This is the part where I wildly speculate about a direct sequel to Most Wanted where Razor and Cross team up against you after performing some kind of demonic street racing blood pact.