The Need for Speed (NFS) franchise has a long history of good driving games dating back to 1994, when it released its first title: The Need for Speed. The NFS franchise improved on its game as subsequent titles released, culminating in, what this author feels, is the best non-real (car does not acquire damage) driving game to date: Need for Speed: Most Wanted. No other driving game before, or after, has achieved the perfect balance of customization, required driving skill, ability to ram other cars, chases, races, and cool places.
NFS: Most Wanted had, what was at the time, an unparalleled amount of customization of the player’s car. Windows could be tinted, spoilers added or removed, engines tuned to the players driving style (acceleration or top speed, drifting or tight turns), and a large variety of paints and decals. This customization made the player feel as if they were driving their own car, not just a predefined shop model.
Most Wanted required the player to possess a certain amount of skill before allowing higher levels and faster cars to be reached. This gave the player the tools and skills they needed before handing them a car that is too fast or quick for the player’s skill level. It also allowed players with a natural aptitude for the game to win races with crappy cars, thanks to their superior driving skill.
Others at OMFG Network (The Mandalorian) disagree with this point, but that is mostly due to their wimpy driving style and dislike for being run off the road by a more aggressive driver. I find an unlimited amount of entertainment in being able to run AI players, cops, and civilians off the road, all while driving 200 MPH, and then slamming into a roadblock.
Above all else, this game was fun to play. Being chased by the cops and trying to get away was, and still is, entertaining to the point that a player would drive around looking for police cars to chase them. The races focused more on high speed, rather than lots of turns, which is, in my opinion, more enjoyable. I make sharp right turns every day on my way to work; therefore, I’m not interested in doing the same in a video game. I do not, however, have the opportunity to, on a regular basis, drive 200 MPH down a highway on the wrong side of the road (I doubt my personal vehicle can get to 100 MPH). Lastly, the scenery was interesting to look at, but not overly detailed, because let’s be honest, who notices how detailed a trash can is as the drive by at 150 MPH?
To conclude, NFS games that have been released after Most Wanted may do a better job in certain aspects of the game, such as give more customization or fancier graphics, but no sequel has brought all of the pieces together in one place the way Need for Speed: Most Wanted did.