10 Best Need for Speed Video Games

Who doesn’t enjoy a great racing game? Kids to adults love the thrill of racing titles whether it’s arcade-based to more realistic simulation. Need for Speed is one of those game franchises that’s been around for ages now and it’s provided more than a few installments for players to enjoy. These are more of an arcade-style of video game racers that take place in different parts of the world along with their unique gimmicks that may appeal to newcomers or veterans that want something fresh. Going into this list, you can expect the basics here as a racing game. You’ll get to drive around, enter races, and tweak your vehicles with upgrades. It would sound repetitive if we went through each point and make the same descriptions so we’re going to instead make note of the feature or gimmick that makes the installment stand out from the rest. However, rest assured, you’re still going to have plenty of racing game modes and events here throughout each point.

#10 Need for Speed: Payback

Platform : PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date : November 10, 2017
Genre : Racing 

Starting this list off with the game that’s not as big of a hit and it’s certainly a game that gets called out for being a title that didn’t quite hit the strides players were hopeful of. With that said, the game is very plot-heavy and it provides a more action-packed kind of game but of course with the main component being racing around. Need for Speed: Packback is set in a fictional Las Vegas, Nevada setting and if you’re familiar with the area you know that the terrain can range from neon-filled city streets to more mountainous areas. You have a free roam option, the real fun most players had with this game is going through the actual races rather than driving around to explore the city area. Fortunately, we have quite a few more big video game hits to bring out on this list.

#9 Need for Speed: The Run

Platform : PC, Nintendo 3DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
Release Date : November 15, 2011
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: The Run is a game centered around a protagonist owing the mob quite a bit of money. To pay off the debt you’re forced into a big race that will happen across the country. It’s a neat concept and because you’re going across the country, there is plenty of change up to the terrains and driving conditions you’ll experience. Along the way, the races will present players with some challenges they’ll need to complete such as passing up a specific number of racers on the track to staying in the lead. Unfortunately, some issues come up leaving players a bit frustrated such as wrecking causes you to return to a checkpoint or the QTEs when you’re on foot running to avoid being caught.

#8 Need for Speed: ProStreet

Platform : Wireless, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date : October 31, 2007
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: ProStreet came out in 2007 and at the time it was a game mainly centered around providing more tuning for your vehicles for organized street racing. As a result, there are no police chases here or oncoming traffic to worry about running into. Since these are all closed tracks, players will have a variety of types of races to go through, from timed checkpoint races, grip races, to drift racing, although that’s just naming a handful of race types you could partake in. With that said, tuning your vehicles is pretty crucial here as you’ll need to ensure that each vehicle is capable of going through the designated race tracks. For what it offers, the game was pretty solid, it may not be as well looked upon today especially with how the visuals hold up compared to the more recent titles, but it’s a decent entry to the franchise well worth bringing up.

#7 Need for Speed: Heat

Platform : PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date : November 8, 2019
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: Heat is a newer installment compared to most of the other games on this list. The game came out in 2019 and it takes a few elements from the previous installments to bring out not only something modern but a bit familiar. You have the police chasing from the likes of Most Wanted or Hot Pursuit while having bright vibrant neon-splashed visuals from the classic Underground franchise. In this game, players are going through a Miami-like city where you’re having to partake in two different style races in the campaign.

Some races happen during the day which are legally sanctioned courses set up throughout the street. Meanwhile, at night this is where illegal street races take place with cops often right on your trail looking to end things. Speaking of being chased around by police, there is a meter for your car so if you take too many hits then you’ll end up getting busted leaving you without the hefty paycheck if you would have avoided the cops and hit first place.

#6 Need for Speed: Carbon

Platform : PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 3, Wii,
Release Date : October 30, 2006
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: Carbon came out in 2006 that’s centered around illegal street racing. Striving to become the best will mean chipping away at the map by winning races and slowly claiming territory. There’s a team-based system kind of placed here as well with gamers having the ability to bring in one member of a team to help you during races. There are drifters, blockers, and scouts. Scouts are used to helping find shortcuts during races that you can follow, blockers will attempt to block out the competition and then drifters will give players a means to gain a bit more drifting edge when required. Speaking of drifting, this is the real push throughout the game for players. Drifting will be crucial at times to get around turns and even gathering a bit of a speed boost to get ahead of the competition. That’s not to say there wasn’t drifting in previous installments to Need for Speed, but it’s more of a focus in Need for Speed: Carbon.

#5 Need for Speed: Rivals

Platform : PS4, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date : November 15, 2013
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: Rivals was released in 2013 during a time that EA wanted to go back towards their roots when it came with the Need for Speed franchise. In Need for Speed: Rivals, players are following two characters. As a result, there is a replay value depending on which character you take on. In this game narrative, the focus is based around a street racer who goes by the name of Zephyr and a new police officer. It’s essentially a battle between these two as they become rivals in the streets in this ongoing cat and mouse chase. Similar to other games in the Need for Speed franchise that is centered around police pursuits, players have either faster cars as a street racer or being a cop you’ll have different ways to call in the law to trigger roadblocks or spike strips.

#4 Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed

Platform : PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iPhone, iPad
Release Date : March 29, 2011
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed is aimed to be more based around circuit racing rather than being an open-world arcade-like experience. This title had one big element that made it stand out and it was the realism in its crashing mechanics. Here players could race through different circuits within the first-person view which was set within a racing helmet. Overall, it gave a bit more of an immersion feel as you race while watching the camera bob and weave from the turns you took on. As mentioned there is plenty of realism to the crashes where you can see the car flip or crumble up in a metal mess depending on how bad of a hit you took. Of course, the game isn’t about crashing into objects to rank up points like the Burnout franchise, but it does add to the level of realism for the Need for Speed franchise.

#3 Need for Speed: Underground 2

Platform : PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
Release Date : November 9, 2004
Genre : Racing 

Need for Speed: Underground 2, obviously the sequel to Need for Speed: Underground, was a popular entry to the franchise in general. In Need for Speed: Underground 2, the game is centered around being the best racer in the area. Alongside that is the fact you’re vehicle needed to not only be tuned to perform better in races but also look the part of a killer ride. This means having to deck the car out with bright colors and neon lights to provide an underglow while speeding down the streets.

While this is a sequel, players can easily dive into this game’s story. It follows after the events of the first game which players only need to know that you’re the protagonist that previously beat out the best racer in the area leaving you the top dog. However, early into this game, you head into a new area completely where again you’re having to compete in different races to win sponsors along with gaining a reputation on the streets. Despite this game being pretty well-received, we haven’t received a follow-up or a reboot to the Underground franchise.

#2 Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Platform : PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3
Release Date : October 30, 2012
Genre : Action, Racing 

Need for Speed: Most Wanted released in 2005 along with a reboot to the game hitting the marketplace in 2012. We’ll stick with the more modern release for this description. In a lot of ways Need for Speed: Most Wanted is quite a bit like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, a title we’ll be getting into a bit more. In Most Wanted, players are going through street races and avoiding police that will attempt to take you down and arrest the driver. Meanwhile, there’s a bit more focus around racing others within the in-game world as you’ll unlock their car if you happen to win. It’s a mix between which game players prefer between Most Wanted and Hot Pursuit, but in general, if you want more of a focus around racing then you might want to dive into Most Wanted. With that said, those that enjoy the thrill of being chased by police will want to look into Hot Pursuit.

#1 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

Platform : PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date : November 6, 2020
Genre : Action, Racing

The Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit has been around for years now it’s got started back in the late 1990s but in 2010 we got a remake of sorts for this Hot Pursuit game and later in 2020 we received a remastered edition. This series, as the name suggests, is based around police chases with players going through street races that attract the thrill of being caught by the police. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse chase in the sense that players who are taking the role of a street racer are usually equipped with exotic fast cars that are quick to zip around the road and avoid the police officers.

While, the officers might be slower, but they come with their own set of attributes such as being more powerful when ramming into an opponent or calling in different power-ups such as roadblocks. It’s worth noting that if you’re going through the campaign then you’ll find that there is a career mode in place for both police and racers so it did provide for some replay value. Picking up the remastered edition is not only giving players a buff in visuals and performance but all the DLC that previously released for this game such as the different unique vehicle packs.