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Long running series of racing games focusing on street racing, initially with exotic supercars and then moving to tuner car racing, probably as a result of the latter coming into fashion with the release of the The Fast and the Furious in 2001. Notable for being available for PC as well as consoles throughout its run. Published by Electronic Arts.

Games in the series include:

  • Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (1994): Contained point-to-point open road tracks and several closed racetracks. The open roads featured AI traffic and police cars that chased the player. Was originally released on the 3DO console, and was later ported to the Play Station, Saturn and DOS PC in 1996 when the 3DO flopped. The PC version of the game, Need for Speed SE (the "SE" meaning Special Edition), added a few new cars and tracks as well. Developed by EA Canada who would develop all of the ensuing games till Motor City.
  • Need For Speed II (1997): Expanded on the car selection of the original with several contemporary concept cars, like the Ford Indigo and Ford GT90. The game abandoned open road courses for arcade circuits. PC Gamer magazine criticized many of the tracks extravagant and unrealistic scenery — comparing many of them to being akin to driving on magic mushrooms. NFS II also had a special edition release for the PC, which added some new cars, a new track and 3Dfx Glide support.
  • Need For Speed V-Rally (1997) & Need For Speed V-Rally II (1999): The American market branding of V-Rally, an unrelated rally racing title made by the French developer Eden Studios and published overseas by Infogrames. V-Rally 3 would be published without the NFS branding in 2002. Eden Studios would also develop the Playstation version of Porsche Unleashed and the very old-school-NFS-like Test Drive Unlimited.
  • Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998): Re-introduced the police chases from the first game, and improved the AI system, with each racer having different driving habits. The PC version provided the option to play as the police and catch speeders. Also the first NFS that was easily modded with add-on cars. One of the highlights of the series, according to fans.
  • Need For Speed: High Stakes (1999): Similar to Hot Pursuit, but with a career mode. The High Stakes name referred to sudden death races where the winner wins the losers car. The PC version is basically an Mission Pack Sequel to Hot Pursuit, because it also included all the tracks from the previous game. The Playstation version didn't have the Hot Pursuit tracks. Known as Need For Speed: Road Challenge in Europe.
  • Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed (2000): Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Consisted purely of Porsche road cars, from 1948 to 2000. Featured more realistic physics than previous games. Another shining moment from the series. Notable for being the last game in the series developed by EA Canada.
  • Motor City Online (2001): An attempt at a driving MMOG, developed in house by EA, and first game not developed by EA Canada. This game focused entirely on American cars, particularly muscle cars, from The Thirties through The Seventies (until the very end, when the Toyota Supra and the Mitsubishi Eclipse were added, presumably to broaden appeal). Despite not having the NFS branding, it is considered to be a NFS game by EA and fans of the series, and was even originally planned as Need For Speed: Motor City. It was largely unsuccessful, and was shut down in 2004.
  • Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit II (2002): Similar to the original Hot Pursuit, but with more and bigger tracks, more cars, and more race types. Was the last game in the series to focus on exotic cars for nearly a decade. Also, until a 2010 content download (see Cool Car, below), it was the last game in the series to have cars from Ferrari. Most of the other games up to this point, except for MCO and Porsche Unleashed, had at least one Ferrari. It was also the first game by EA Black Box, who would become the new Need for Speed Developer for the next several years.
  • Need For Speed: Underground (2003): Changed the format of the series from exotic cars on open road tracks to street racing with tuner cars. It also introduced a storyline and car customization.
  • Need For Speed: Underground II (2004): Similar to the original Underground, but with a free roaming city, as in Grand Theft Auto.
  • Need For Speed: Underground Rivals (2005): A version of Underground II for PSP. Introduced muscle cars to the vehicle lineup.
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2005): Similar to Underground II, featuring muscle cars and exotics in addition to tuner cars while focusing on the re-introduced staple of the series: The Police Chases. Due to being thematically a lot less flashy than the Underground games, the visual customization for the cars is limited, dropping the pure eye-candy options like the neon lights.
  • Need For Speed: Carbon (2006): A more story-driven street racing game, with the player recruiting drivers to their 'crew'. The highlight feature was the canyon races, which wound down narrow, twisting mountain roads, and the greatest danger was often driving off a cliff.
  • Need For Speed: ProStreet (2007): Themed around organized race days with no illegal street racing. Switched to a more realistic handling model, and was widely criticised for it — even EA admitted that this one is "not good".
  • Need For Speed: Undercover (2008): Returned to the Most Wanted model of focusing on illegal street racing, with a The Fast and the Furious-style storyline. Was trashed by critics for its bad framerate, its cheesy storyline, and for being not as good as Rockstar Games' Midnight Club: Los Angeles and EA's other arcade-style racing game from 2008, Burnout Paradise. Pretty much sullied EA Black Box's reputation with the series.
  • Need For Speed: Shift (2009): Another crack at realistic racing, from Slightly Mad Studios (an independent development team composed of people who worked on GTR, GTR2, and GT Legends, a trio of well-received PC sim racers), with help from EA Black Box. Much better received than Undercover.
  • Need For Speed: Nitro (2009): An arcade-like racer for the Wii and DS. Developed by EA Montreal.
  • Need For Speed: World (2010): Another attempt at a NFS MMO, this one is free-to-play, featuring microtransactions for the 'premium' version of in-game currency. Features the cityscapes from Most Wanted and Carbon in a persistent MMO environment, not unlike Test Drive Unlimited. Developed by EA Black Box and EA Singapore. Has received middle of road reviews. Players start off with $35,000 to buy a starter car and begin racing against other players and the game's AI. Borrowing from the leveling mechanics found in Hot Pursuit 2010, You earn money and reputation for winning, which you can use to buy upgrades in the form of after-market parts to adjust your stats. As you level up, you unlock new tiers of cars and events you can participate in. Other features include Pursuit mode, where the player must outrun the local police, and Team Pursuit, where you and your team must beat the clock to avoid getting arrested.
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010): Was accidentally revealed by GameTrailers TV in a quick look at EA's E3 2010 booth, and was confirmed at EA's press conference a few days later. This is the first game in the series developed by Criterion Games, the EA studio behind the Burnout franchise, is a Spiritual Successor to Hot Pursuit 2 (of course), and features some online-centric "race and chase" gameplay, either through multiplayer or the "Autolog" system that continuously compares your best times to those of your friends and challenges you to beat your friends' times.
  • Shift 2: Unleashed (2011): After the success of Need for Speed: Shift, it's not too surprising to learn that EA gave Slightly Mad Studios another go-around and green-lit Shift 2 this time without input from Black Box. The handling model is massively improved from Shift, and the Autolog feature from Hot Pursuit returns, as well.
  • Need for Speed: The Run (2011): Featuring the Cannonball Run-style coast-to-coast Epic Race across the USA with a heavy emphasis on story and cinematic action. The plot's kind of Excuse-y but just know Sean Faris gets some advice from Christina Hendricks about a 3000 mile race that he can use to win $25 million, enough to pay back a crime syndicate he had a bad run-in with. Was meant to be EA Black Box's redemption after losing control over the series post Undercover, but with less than stellar reviews, this looks to not be the case.
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012): Criterion's second game in the series, a reboot of 2005's Most Wanted. As explained by Kotaku, it was "Burnout Paradise with cops".
  • Need for Speed: Rivals (2013)
  • Need for Speed (2015)
  • Need for Speed: No Limits (2015)
  • Need for Speed: Payback (2017)
  • Need for Speed: Heat (2019)

The Need for Speed page now features WMG, YMMV and Crowning Music pages.

The game features examples of these tropes:

  • A Taste of Power: Underground starts In Medias Res with a Bonus Car with nitrous, Underground 2 starts with a borrowed tuned car, Most Wanted starts with a powerful BMW M3 that is sabotaged and lost in a bet, and Carbon starts with you thrashing that same BMW.
    • Defied in Hot Pursuit 2k10. A starter cop mission gives you Lamborghini Reventon, and things don't get worse from there. Mind you, NFS: HP2010 absolutely loves this trope, heck, fairly early in the game (whichever side of the law you are on), you're gonna get a preview of a handful of cars you won't be driving for a while. The best examples include the McLaren F1, Pagani Zonda Cinque, Corvette ZR1 and the Bugatti Veyron 16.4. All of which can be unlocked after a few hours of playing.
      • And yes, the Veyron and the Konigsegg CCXR are the last two cars you'll unlock.
    • Subverted in the 2015 reboot, the first car you'll get to drive is a dreary, bone-stock 3rd generation Ford Mustang. After that, you'll get to choose your starter car: a Subaru BRZ, or an EK9 Honda Civic Type-R, or... your very own 3rd gen Mustang!
    • In Payback, your team start up with some pretty nice cars: Tyler with a red Skyline GT-R, Mac with a pimped-out Chevrolet Bel Air and Jess with a blue BMW M5. Then you get to steal and drive Marcus "the Gambler" Weir's Koenigsegg Regera. Then everything fell apart and Tyler's forced to ditch his Nissan, he became Weir's valet and even got to joyride the Gambler's DB11, but after work, all Tyler gets is a rusty old 240ZX. Sure, he later receives a custom M5 from the House, but it got taken away pretty quickly. And by the time he reunites with Mac and Jesse, we find out that Mac lost his Bel Air in a bet and Jess's car got downgraded as well (but it's still a decent Audi).
  • Heat starts with a race custom Polestar 1. Then the career properly starts and the player has to pick a second-hand beater.
  • A Winner Is You: Appears in Hot Pursuit 2010, when the player clears all of the offline missions for one side.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Inverted in Porsche Unleashed. If you bought a used car, repaired it, and sold it, you would make a profit every single time. There was also an infinite supply of used Porsches as well, meaning that you could have all the money you wanted for the price of grinding the menus.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Sure that light blue police Gallardo 560-4 in HP2010 is cool and all but that car actually exists in Italy as an interceptor unit.
  • Anachronism Stew: A subtle but noticeable one in Hot Pursuit 2010 is an F-14 Tomcat that likes to fly-by every now and then near Memorial Highway. Though not a particular source of frustration, it's still has some of the fans that are well-versed in aviation crying afoul because the game more or less takes place Twenty Minutes Into the Future and that the plane in question has been out of service since 2006.
  • Announcer Chatter: And police chatter in the games that have them. Very much a necessity in Most Wanted where you can keep track of their movements.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In The Run, you can restart from the latest checkpoint if/when you either wreck your car, or you've lost that particular segment of the race. You can do this at will, too, up to certain times depending on the difficulty. Insert jokes about certain groundhog-day-looper-that-signed-an-unfair-contract here.
  • Ascended Extra: Somewhat of an example, as prior to the Mazda Miata being drivable in Underground, Bland Name Products of the car could be seen as traffic in earlier games.
  • Baby Got Back: Some cutscenes in the 2005 version of Most Wanted suggest that Razor is checking out Mia's ass.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Rockport PD in Most Wanted. The Player Character escaped but street racing in Rockport has been shut down completely thanks to them being an Unwitting Pawn for RPPD.
  • Beat: In Hot Pursuit 2010, the police dialogue on screen literally says {BEAT} whenever there's a pause between sentences during the same dialogue clip.
  • Benevolent Architecture: some of those cities look like racetracks with houses.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Road Challenge Hot Pursuit mode (the police chase mode) had an option to use 'local police'. This gave full localised voices for the dispatch and driver voice-overs. On the British circuit, the British Police talk with English accents. The French and German circuits go one step further — they even talk in the right language, not just a faux accent.
    • Averted for the english police, driving a Victoria police Holden has the police sound more like they're from Heartbeat than Blue Heelers.
  • Bowdlerize: The songs by Hot Action Cop which were featured in Hot Pursuit 2 had their lyrics changed so they're racing-themed rather than sex-themed.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Underground had the Bonus Cars, untuned cars with awesome vinyls.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Some versions of Carbon, ProStreet and Undercover all let you unlock cars and parts early by paying real money.
  • Broken Bridge: All the boroughs start out locked by an Invisible Wall.
    • Construction equipment and fortified barricades block off the road which leads to (coincidentally) the broken bridge used in the final pursuit of Most Wanted.
  • Bullet Time: the Speedbreaker from Most Wanted and Carbon. Also counts as Game Breaker.
  • Call Back: The Run allows players to access challenges which would unlock cars from Underground (Eddie's Skyline GTR from the first Underground and Rachel's 350Z from Underground 2), Most Wanted (the player's M3 GTR and Razor's Mustang), and Carbon (Cross' Corvette Z06 C6 and Darius' Le Mans Quattro). (Note that the challenges are inspired by the games themselves.)
    • In Payback, you can gain access to Eddie's Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 if you already own the 2015 reboot of the series. It has a level cap of 399 instead of 299.
  • Captain Obvious: In the opening pursuit of The Run captions pop up helpfully telling you to avoid gunfire and explosions.
  • Character Tiers: Car-based example: The series as a whole tends to divide cars into "Classes," putting similar cars into different classes (for example, putting high-performance sports cars like the Lamborghini Diablo VT and the Ferrari 512TR in their own Class) based on performance. Each game has it's own system of organization.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • On many occasions, you'll be surprised to discover that the police SUV, is in fact much faster than your tricked out McLaren F1 running at top speed.
      • Those police SUVs are especially annoying in World; after an update was added to the game to make pursuits in higher Heat Levels tougher, it seems that in every Heat Level 5 pursuit there are always two more Rhinos coming at you every ten seconds.
      • Ironically, in the original Hot Pursuit, the Police AI was a lot dumber, making the very hook of the game much easier than its singleplayer!
    • Constantly invoked by the Renegades crew in No Limits. In Chapter 19, where you face off the Renegades' boss, Jaxon, for the third time, you can see that he's driving a Ford Mustang GT with a performance rating of 910. Your Mustang GT, however, can't go any higher than 802!
      • Before you face Jaxon, however, you'll have to take on his deputy — Shadow. His Dodge Challenger SRT8 has a 800+ PR, yet the maximum PR for your Challenger is 768.
  • Continuity Reboot: What 2015 was envisioned as. At least for the era of customizing cars.
  • Cool Car: There's usually a stand out in every game.
    • The early NFS games lived on this trope. Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches aplenty.
    • In Underground, Eddie has a pretty awesome Skyline. So much so that it was brought back as a bonus car in Need for Speed (2015).
    • The most iconic car in the series is, without a shadow of a doubt, the BMW M3 GTR from Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005). If the M3 E46 is in a game, even a non-Need for Speed game with car customization, guarantee that someone has recreated the car.
    • Need for Speed: Shift trumps 'em all by having the Maserati MC12 Corsa and the Lamborghini Reventón, along with the McLaren F1, Bugatti EB 16.4 Veyron, the aforementioned Koeingsegg, and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Still no Ferraris, but the Maserati MC12 Corsa uses the engine, chassis, and other internals of the Enzo Ferrari, so it'll be good enough.
    • Koenigsegg CCX with modifications. You can't get any more awesome than that!
    • Shift 2: Unleashed has the exclusive rights to the Pagani Huayra, a 235 MPH Italian supercar. It's so awesome, the car's reveal trailer needs no music aside from the exhaust note.
    • Payback has the Koenigsegg Regera.
  • Cowboy Cop: This is how you get anything done in the Hot Pursuit 2k10. Road Blocks, Spike Strips, EMP, and Helicopter at your disposal, officer. Justified in that the racers are really dangerous.
    • The original Hot Pursuit was somewhat more sedate, in that you only got spike strips. The rest you had to do yourself, via takedowns.
  • Crapsack World: The games either take place in this or a Crapsaccharine World.
    • Implied in the first Hot Pursuit with Empire City, the track narrator goes so far to say: "Metropolis gone bad..." when listening on the description in the menu. Same for Rockport in Most Wanted. Even without the street racing, the city is clearing falling apart.
    • Payback has a good example of the latter option. It's a thriving Las Vegas expy but Dirty Cops abound and the mob controls everything.
  • Crazy Awesome: In-universe, You (well, Ryan Cooper) are considered to be this by the DJs if you perform good enough. They insist a lot on this at the beginning of drag races.

 DJ: "Did you see this guy? He's completely bananas!"

  • Curb Stomp Battle: A lot of the Duel Events in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2010 can fall into this, particularly the Power Trip, Twin Turbo, Racing Stripes and Title Fight Duels.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: A major issue of the series. Most of the controls, like the gas, the brake and the nitrous, stay the same but others, like camera options, horn, or photo mode, shift around.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Turbo in Hot Pursuit 2k10. Like the game says, "it's hard to evade spike strips when you're going at 200mph". Especially when you're out of Jammers and can't prevent the cops from dropping spike strips in front of you...
  • Death From Above: One of the levels in The Run has Jack avoiding an attacking helicopter as he attempts to escape Chicago. Appropriately enough, the trailer it's featured in is called "Death From Above".
  • Difficult but Awesome: Mastering the Bugatti Veyron and it's faster version, the Super Sport definitely qualifies, these are 2 of the fastest cars in the world but they're very difficult to handle, but with some skill and a bit of practice you can makes these cars almost game-breaking.
  • Difficulty Spike: Quite common since Underground.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The premise of Hot Pursuit. "Hey, that guy is speeding! Quickly, let's lay down spike strips, use electromagnetic pulses, call in the helicopters, and ram them off the road! Hopefully off the side of a cliff! That'll teach them a lesson about speeding!"
  • Dolled-Up Installment: V-Rally and V-Rally 2.
  • Dramatic Landfall Shot: The opening of Undercover.
  • Drives Like Crazy: You in almost all Need for Speed games. Of note are the beautiful, treacherous tracks in Hot Pursuit 2K10. When you get to, or have to, drive a Corvette ZR1 through hairpins at 200mph, you have to learn to drift well fast.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight in Underground 1&2, Most Wanted, and Carbon where almost all race givers will treat your car as a wreck, and expect you to be lapped five times by the end of the race. Averted in Pro Street where, if you perform good enough, the DJs will constantly praise you. Repeated in 2015 where everyone is nice for once and praises your skills.
  • Dynamic Difficulty
  • Every Car Is Rear Wheel Drive: In earlier installments, the only options for vehicles were rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, which made this almost literally true. Hot Pursuit 2K10 has only two types: Rear Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: NFS II had an unlockable Hollywood track, with movie sets and dinosaurs (indeed, a cheat code allowed you to turn your car into a dinosaur, as well as other silly things like a log).
  • Every Episode Ending
  • Flying Saucer: There's one buried in the desert in Payback.
  • Game Breaker: In Rivals, both the racers and the cops already have their own list of hypercars. Then came a free update which introduced the Koenigsegg One:1. Now it's doomsday for Redview County! The One:1 not only has the highest top speed in the game (beating even the RCPD's Hennessy Venom GT), but also explosive acceleration, excellent grip and handling copy-pasted from the Agera R. The One:1 instantly made the Ferrari Enzo, the Pagani Huayra and the McLaren P1 (three of the best cars from the racer's faction) look useless. And if someone pulls off a successful Turbo boost in a One:1, no cop car will ever have a chance in keeping up!
  • Getting Arrested Is A Slap On The Wrist: The ultimate goal of the Pursuit races in Need For Speed World is to keep going for as long as you possible can (or want) while causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the state. It's up to you to keep the event going if you lose the police, by actively seeking them back out again. If you happen to get arrested though, all you suffer is a loss of a couple hundred dollars.
  • Hammerspace Police Force
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Sean Faris (The Vampire Diaries) is the voice of Jack Rourke in The Run. Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) provides the role of the player's handler Sam.
  • Hollywood California
  • Hood Ornament Hottie: Brooke Burke and Kelly Brook in Underground II, Josie Maran in Most Wanted, Emmanuelle Vaugier in Carbon, Krystal Forscutt in ProStreet, and Maggie Q in Undercover. None of them were hired for their acting ability, as the in-game cutscenes show quite clearly.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The first race against Razor in Most Wanted (2005).
  • Improbably Cool Car: Too many kids with Lamborghini Gallardos (especially the 550-4 Valvetino Balboni)!
    • The Pagani Zonda Cinque's (Technically: there are ten, just five coupes and five roadster versions).
      • Similar to that, the McLaren F1 LM in Hot Pursuit 2.
    • The Koenigsegg CCXR which there are only four of them made! Yet there is a police version with blue carbon fiber.
    • NFS II was even worse with Ford GT90's, Indigos, Mustang Mach III's, Italdesign (BMW) Nazca C2's and (Lamborghini) Calas (all of which, for those who are confused, never went into production)!
      • NFS III then had the Italdesign (Alfa Romeo) Scighera (which had only been available in the PC version, the PSX version had the aforementioned Nazca C2).
  • Infinity Minus One Car: In Most Wanted, if you win Blacklist #6 Ming's Lamborghini Gallardo, it comes with most of all of the final performance upgrades available for cars that aren't supposed to be unlocked until after you beat #3 Ronnie. The car unmodified from its initial setup is enough to get you through the next few Blacklist targets easy, and it saves you money so you can buy one of the final cars when you need to. You will definitely want to Save Scum for this one.
  • In Medias Res: Underground, Most Wanted and Carbon start like this.
  • In Vehicle Invulnerability: If you knock out a car in Hot Pursuit 2k10, the most you might see the driver do inside is just shake his head in disappointment. No fear. This happens even if the racer in question uses a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss edition, which has no windshield or roof.
    • Averted in that if you wreck a cop, they sometimes request EMS.
  • Joke Character — The police helicopter in High Stakes.
    • Lethal Joke Character:
      • The Toyota Corolla from Underground II onward. Despite its rather dowdy appearance compared to other cars, it has fantastic handling and, in the right hands, beat much faster cars.
      • The Volkswagen Beetle in Payback and Heat. It doesn't cost much to buy or upgrade and it's light weight means it goes like a rocket when fully upgraded.
  • Land Down Under: Australian tracks that run from Sydney to the outback and back again.
    • High Stakes also gives us Fords and Holdens, as well as a Victoria police unit.
  • Limit Break: the nitrous in Underground 2 is refilled with stunts. This mechanic returns in Hot Pursuit 2k10. In fact, it's about the only way to win in Exotic or Hyper series when you're a Racer. The fact that the cops' cars are significantly better than yours doesn't help. The nitrous system in The Run is a combination of the self-regenerating nitrous from Most Wanted, Carbon, and Undercover, with the option to accelerate the regeneration with stunts a la Hot Pursuit 2k10.
  • MacGuffin: The BMW M3 GTR in Most Wanted, which also counts as a Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Marathon Level: Event 30 of Championship mode in Hot Pursuit 2. 10 laps on Palm City Island. Takes about half an hour to complete.
  • Market-Based Title: There's quite a few, so take a seat.
    • European versions keep the "Need For Speed" name, but usually had a different subtitle. For example, Porsche Unleashed's subtitle was simply 2000 for the German edition. This practice ended with the release of Hot Pursuit 2.
    • The Japanese versions were sold as the Over Drivin' series until the release of Porsche Unleashed. There were also a few Japanese-exclusive editions of the first game, including an all-Nissan edition (Over Drivin': Skyline Memorial). Despite the name, it featured more than the's company Skyline series of sports cars, and it included various Z-cars and the R390 Le Mans racer.
    • Hot Pursuit 2 had both the Opel Speedster and Vauxhaul VX 220 the only difference is the lack of roof on the VX 220 while the Speedster had a slightly higher acceleration.
  • Money for Nothing: A problem in any game that lets you customize by using cash. You'll end up with a big bank account from winning races yet none of the higher level part tiers will open up so you can buy new swag with your loot. By the time you have the option of buying new parts, very often they won't dent your funds enough that you'll care.
  • Mood Lighting
  • Mr. Fanservice: Most male characters in the games are wearing tight shirts that show off their muscular physiques.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most female characters are wearing very tight clothing that emphasize their curves. Special credit goes to the girls in Most Wanted 2005 who never wear shirts and are often standing around in their bras. Mia is the standout as she's twice seen in nothing but a tube top and very short shorts.
  • Multi Platform
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: 'Wolf' (It'd be more scary squaring up to 'Michael Schumacher').
  • Nitro Boost: featured in nearly every NFS game since Underground.
    • In Hot Pursuit 2010 and Rivals, racers get an exclusive gadget called "Turbo" which can be fitted alongside the standard nitro. Like other gadgets, you only get a limited supply and it amount you can carry can be increased with upgrades. Once you hit the button, your car will be blasting off as if someone'd strapped a rocket to it. There's no interrupting the boost — unless you crash, get hit by a spike strip/stun mine or get stunned by an EMP blast (highly unlikely as a boosted car can easily outrun the EMP's lock-on range).
  • No One Could Survive That: Most of the wrecks, takedowns, busts and crashes in Hot Pursuit 2k10 that involve rolling the car multiple times, launching cars off of cliffs, brutal head-on collisions with traffic and sending supercars into walls while going at speeds climbing over 240+ MPH.
    • Especially in a Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss. The car literally has no roof and no windshield! A roll-over in that car would clearly kill the driver.
  • Obvious Beta: Undercover shipped with severe frame-rate issues. Absolute death in a high-speed racing game.
    • The PS3, PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game at least got a patch that (mostly) fixes the frame-rate issues.
    • ProStreet had some frame-rate issues, too, but it didn't make the game unplayable.
    • The XBOX 360 version of Shift tries to access the Playstation Store.
  • Old Save Bonus: Some versions of Most Wanted gave you an extra $5000 for having an Underground 2 saved game.
    • Hot Pursuit 2010 and Shift 2 Unleashed offer "loyalty bonuses" if you played a previous game in the series, usually in the form of additional experience points. Playing Hot Pursuit 2010 also unlocks two additional cars in Shift 2 Unleashed: a Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster in "NFS Edition" colors, and a Lamborghini Reventon in a Seacrest County PD livery.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In Hot Pursuit 2010, listen to the woman who reads off each car's description in the vehicle selection menu. She frequently slips between an American accent and a British one, especially on words like "dollars" and "goggles" (for example: The SLR Stirling Moss).
  • Penultimate Weapon
  • Press X to Not Die: The Run uses this trope for moments where you're out of the car. In the Xbox version this is literally the case in the opening cutscene where the first button you need to press is X
  • Product Placement: Underground 2 was the winner of Gamespot's "Most Despicable Product Placement" award in 2004. After all, this was the game that had a Burger King and/or a Best Buy every couple of blocks and the Cingular logo on the HUD at all times.
    • The Run has the K&N challenge series and every petrol station is a Shell one with their premium brand fuels clearly shown.
  • Quicksand Box
  • Rare Vehicles: Carbon was released in 2006 and features the concept versions of the 2008 Dodge Challenger, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro and Audi R8 (known as "Le Mans Quattro" prototype); Hot Pursuit 2 also features the McLaren F1 LM, of which only 5 were produced. NFSII also featured one-offs like the Ford GT90, Indigo and Mustang Mach III, Lamborghini Italdesign Cala, BMW Italdesign Nazca C2, and the super-rare Isdera Commendatore 112i.
    • The two cover cars for Hot Pursuit 2k10 title are the Lamborghini Reventón (total production: 20 cars, plus one for display in the Lamborghini Museum.) and the Pagani Zonda Cinque (total production: five cars, all going to an exotic car showroom in Hong Kong. "Cinque" is the Italian term for the number five, hence the production number and name.).
    • In Rivals, completing SpeedList No. 16 get to unlock the Lamborghini Aventador LP720-4 50 Anniversario, a special edition of the Aventador with only 100 units built. Complete the next SpeedList, and you will get access to the Lamborghini Veneno — an Aventador based supercar with just 5 examples built (one for factory testing, one retained for the factory and three cars for customers). The RCPD, on the other hand, also have their roster of epic cars: first there's the Aston Martin One-77 unlocked at Rank 16 (limited to 77 units as its name suggests), the next rank rewards the McLaren F1 LM (only 5 units, plus a prototype), while the rank after that unlocks the Veyron Super Sport (which is not as rare but still limited to 30 units).
      • Rival‍'‍s DLCs introduce even more exotic cars, including the Spania GTA Spano (99 units), the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Roadster (150 units) and the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento (20 units) from the Need for Speed movie; the Koenigsegg One:1 (7 units) and the Jaguar C-X75 (a prototype with only 5 examples made).
  • Rashomon Style: How the backstory in Carbon is told.
  • Real Is Brown: Most Wanted paints the whole scene brown and orange with the Visual Treatment set on full; Carbon later replaced it with high-tech blue. Undercover goes back to brown.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Thanks to the "Grand Theft Auto" Effect.
  • Road Block: Used in Hot Pursuit, Hot Pursuit 2, Most Wanted and Carbon; the usual way to clear them is by either squeezing through or hammering your way through
    • They return as a cop-deployable obstacle in Hot Pursuit 2010 and Rivals. The correct way to get through them is to shoot a gap just a little larger than your car (earning a dodged roadblock bonus). The computer regularly aims for them, but they do clip a cop car from time to time, which can lead to an easy takedown or bust.
  • Rubber Band AI: Infamously used since Underground.
  • Rule of Three: Every 3rd game seems to be centered about cop chases. The 3rd game was Hot Pursuit, the 6th game was Hot Pursuit 2, the 9th game was Most Wanted, the 12th game was Undercover, and the 15th game (after Shift and Nitro) is Hot Pursuit 2k10.
    • And the 18th game was again named Most Wanted, again (after Shift 2 and The Run).
  • Satchel Switcheroo: happens in the storyline in Carbon.
  • Scare Chord: Sort of. In the second and third games, crashing your car would cause a short riff (that was part of whatever song was playing, depending on track) to play.
  • Scenery Porn: Just about every game in the series, but Hot Pursuit 2010 takes it too the extreme. Think about it, Seacrest County has tall red-woods, a large lake, long rivers, a mountain range up north, long stretches of desert.. all presented in Crysis-matching graphics! And it looks absolutely brilliant!
  • Schizo-Tech: The Atlantica course in III: Hot Pursuit, which looks very futuristic but only features 1990s cars.
    • To go further, Empire City is your standard, dystopian Crapsack World city yet there are high powered, rare sports cars racing around the district.
  • Score Screen: used in all the games, though Most Wanted also tallies up your pursuit score like this.
  • Serious Business: Daft street racing with a straight face is what the game is basically about.
    • The police in Hot Pursuit have a dedicated speed enforcement unit with tricked-out cars to match those of racers.
  • Shared Universe: All the games, at least those with stories, take place in the same universe, as confirmed by Payback. Though some disagree on whether the Underground, Most Wanted, and Carbon follow the same nameless racer.
  • Shark Tunnel: The first Hot Pursuit has one as a segment in the Aquatica track, which is also available in certain versions of High Stakes. The PSX version of Hot Pursuit also has a giant version of it as a secret track.
  • Shout-Out: The Coastal course in the original had a half-buried Statue of Liberty on the beach at the finish line. "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!"
    • If you crashed the Lamborgini in the 3D0 version of the orignal NFS, the guy at the menu would say:

  "You just wrecked a $500,000 dollar machine. Nice going, Gomer...

    • In Most Wanted...

 Cross: I want everyone on this guy."

Partner: Everyone?


    • There's quite a few in the new Hot Pursuit's achievement/trophy list.
      • Just so you know who made the game, there's an achievement/trophy called "Burnout" that requires the player to fully charge up the Nitro Boost and use it all in one go.
        • To drive that point home, one of the routes in game is called Point of Impact.
      • One achievement/trophy requires the player to win a certain event in a "bee yellow" Camaro. The name of the achievement? "Flight of the Bumblebee".
      • There's another achievement/trophy called "Iron Man" that requires completing three police events in an Audi R8.
      • And there's one called "Shaken, Not Stirred" that requires completing an event in an Aston Martin vehicle.
      • Speaking of James Bond and Astons, there's another Aston-only event called "Do look after it".
      • Finally, there's one called "Godzilla" that requires completing a certain police event in a Nissan GT-R Spec-V with no weapons used, a reference to the film series and the Affectionate Nickname of the car in question.
      • One of the Racer events in the Lamborghini Untamed Downloadable Content pack is called Cannonball and has the player racing against the clock and police in a Lamborghini Countach.
    • One of the yokels in Payback‍'‍s Hazard Company is "Cletus".
  • Silliness Switch: NFS II had cheat modes that would turn your car into a box, a dinosaur and a bus stop, among other things.
  • Slap-On-The-Wrist Nuke: Spike Strips? EMP? Nahh, only a flesh metal wound in the Hot Pursuit 2k10. Averted in other games though, as the pursuit is basically over if you hit the Spike Strips.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air
  • So Last Season:
    • From Hot Pursuit 2010 onwards, hitting a spike strips means going slower for maybe 25 seconds whereas it ended the chase in Most Wanted, Carbon and Undercover.
    • In Payback, cops with Killswitch Tech were Elite Mooks who were specially marked on the map with it more or less being game over if one disabled you. In Heat, they're much less threatening.
  • Stealth Pun: NFS Hot Pursuit 2k10 used this sentence during the final roadblock upgrade briefing for police. Also note that a cayenne is also a type of chili.
    • Porsche Cayenne Turbos are now deployed to add spice to your pursuit.
    • Now The Run does recursive shout-outs to previous installment's names on their chapters, remarkably "Underground", "Most Wanted" and the last episode "Hot Finish"
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels
  • Strictly Formula: A common complaint against Carbon and Undercover.
  • Spin-Off: The V-Rally series (which only bore the NFS name for branding; was eventually passed to the Test Drive name later). Beetle Adventure Racing was envisioned as a Need for Speed title for the Nintendo 64 but eventually became a VW Beetle-focused racing game. More recently, the Shift games are trying to draw a divide between themselves and the rest of the franchise, with the second game dropping the name and being called Shift 2: Unleashed.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In Hot Pursuit 2k10:

 Police Dispatcher: Suspect is in the sand, heading toward the rocks!"

  • The Other Darrin: Bizarrely, within Most Wanted, there is a particular cop who shows up on the radio during Heat Level Five chases at the same time when Cross's car does, who takes control of the pursuit and orders cops around. It's obviously supposed to be Cross, yet it's also very obviously not the actor who plays Cross in the cutscenes and in the few cell phone voice messages the player receives from him. Unfortunate, too, as the actor who plays Cross on the radio is not nearly as good as the actual Cross actor.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay
  • Vanity License Plate: 'NFS' on your plate. Supposedly these were going to be customisable for online play, until somebody realised that You Suck and would almost certainly use swear words...
    • In Need for Speed Undercover and Hot Pursuit 2k10, all the cars have license plates that say "ND 4 SPD".
    • For the real life pictures of the cars in NFS III, all of the pictures showing the license plate will have "NFS 3" edited over them to prevent tracking.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Slowly happens to Razor and Cross from Most Wanted, as well as Darius from Carbon.
    • Chase Linh at the end of Undercover after being arrested by the police.
  • Wacky Racing: With licensed Cool Cars, to bout!
  • Wham! Episode: Actually a Wham Race in the first Underground. The race known as "Friends Are Easy To Make, And Easier To Lose" has you racing against Samantha who's been your guide throughout the first two thirds of the game. Later, the other racers will call you out on this.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Possible example in Hot Pursuit. Just listen to the Aquatica part of Rear Flutterblast #19 (which is about halfway through the video,) especially 5:19 to 5:40. Keep in mind that Aquatica is a winding cliff-side road along the ocean at sunset.