EA Announces Need For Speed Franchise Renovation
Need for Speed: Undercover represented a slight departure from tradition for the long-running racing franchise, as EA implemented a movie-like storyline in order to grab new fans. Evidently, though, they didn't go far enough with the restructuring.
According to Eurogamer, EA says they plan to "reinvent" the Need for Speed series this year, which means we won't see just one blockbuster release. Instead, we'll get "separate core, casual and 'Play 4 Free' games." Therefore, the schedule includes Need for Speed: Shift for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP and PC (set for fall), Need for Speed: Nitro for the Wii and DS, and Need for Speed: World Online, which will be released to the Asian online PC market first in the summer, than head to North America in the winter. Shift is being developed by Slightly Mad Studios (they're responsible for GT Legends and GTR2), and this installment will focus on the simulation aspects of driving. Apparently, this will not only include racing physics, but "realistic driver behavior." That whole "urban underground" theme will disappear, it seems, and instead, we get features like "a flashy 3D HUD that mimics driver head movement" (feeds off inertia and G-force), a cockpit view, and more. Said EA Marketing boss Keith Munro:
"Need for Speed Shift is amazing and I think it will blow people away. The tech behind that game, the details that only a team with such racing pedigree could accomplish, and the ability to make you feel the intensity of a race is unprecedented. I can't wait for our fans to begin experiencing it! Regarding any new Need for Speed girls I can't comment, but I'll definitely mark down one enthusiastic vote for Josie Maran."
As if you hadn't already guessed, Nitro will be a "fast, fun arcade" racer, and...well, that's all we really need to say about it. World Online is being co-developed by Black Box and EA's online studio in Singapore. Munro says it's "not so much a proof of concept - it is a full-fledged launch in a market that we are very ambitious toward." If you want to sign up for this bad boy, you'll be able to get your hands on more licensed cars, parts and game modes than has ever appeared in any NFS title in history. So there you have it: the NFS revamping is under way! How do you like it?
1/30/2009 Ben Dutka