The Need for Speed (occasionally referred to in full as Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed) is a 1994 racing video game, developed by Electronic Arts Canada and published by Electronic Arts. It is the first in the Need for Speed series, which spans more than 15 titles to date. The premise of the game involves racing in sport cars, including several exotic models and Japanese imports. The game was noted for its realism and audio and video commentaries. Electronic Arts teamed up with automotive magazine Road & Track to match vehicle behavior, including the mimicking of the sounds made by the vehicles' gear control levers. The game also contained precise vehicle data with spoken commentary, several "magazine style" images of each car interior and exterior and even short video clips highlighting the vehicles set to music.
- Featured both closed circuits and three point-to-point tracks, each divided into three stages. For the latter, traffic vehicles appeared in races.
- Included police pursuits, in which the player could be ticketed or arrested after a police car succeeded in catching up with the player. The player was arrested if he/she received a third police ticket, while the Sega Saturn version only required two tickets for the player to be arrested.
- Featured detailed specifications, history, audio commentaries and real-life videos of each vehicle.
- Featured data and records of each race, during and after the race. These included speed, track records and racer position.
- Replay feature allowed the player to view a saved race. Multiple camera views, playback speed and video navigation were offered.
- A special feature for finishing the tournament's (or entering the cheat) was "rally" mode. The car dynamics were changed to make for a faster 'arcade' experience.
There are seven tracks including an extra one in the game. "CITY", "COASTAL", "ALPINE", "RUSTY SPRINGS", "AUTUMN VALLEY", "VERTIGO" and the extra one, "LOST VEGAS".
There are nine different cars in the game, including a hidden one: a navy blue Lamborghini Diablo, a red Ferrari 512TR, a royal blue Dodge Viper RT/10, a dark green Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, a dark blue Porsche 911 Carrera, a red Toyota Supra Turbo, a silver Acura NSX, a yellow Mazda RX-7 and the hidden car, the purple Warrior.
British magazine PC Power gave the DOS version a score of 95%, praising car handling, graphics and overall presentation, but criticizing hardware requirements and sound. Jim Varner of GameSpot gave the game a 8.3 "Great" rating and said: "With its marvelous attention to detail, exotic course design, and straightforward gameplay, this game is a true winner. Simply put, The Need for Speed is the next best thing to owning a $200,000 sports car!".
The Need for Speed: Special Edition
Released in 1996, an edition of The Need for Speed, The Need for Speed: Special Edition, is made available only on PC CD-ROM, containing DOS and Windows 95 versions. The Windows 95 version supports DirectX 2 and TCP/IP networking, and includes two new tracks ("TRANSTROPOLIS" and "BURNT SIENNA") and various enhancements in the game engine. Special Edition is the last game in the Need for Speed series to support DOS, as subsequent releases for the PC only run on Microsoft Windows 95 or above.
- The Need for Speed was the only game in the franchise to be aligned with the "Road & Track" magazine
- When driving into the first tunnel in the first "City" stage, the development team can been seen above the tunnel entrance.
- The brown skyscraper used in the "City" stage is a direct image of the Library Square tower in Vancouver, British Columbia where EA Canada is based.
- The 3DO (first ever) version of the game, features the driver as a character challenging other characters.
- The 3DO version on features the road (segment) tracks only - Coastal, City & Alpine
- The 3DO version, the player has lives as Test Drive, a Crash and the player loses 1 life.
- On the PC version, when a player finishes the tournament, they should check the credits section, via the main menu (If you win the tournament again, this menu will reveal the cheats)
- The Warrior car (Secret almost jet powered car) features a dash that is a combination of all the other cars dash
- The PSX version of the game features "behind the scenes" videos which show game development and how each car's video is made
- Rally mode was in the original PC DOS-based version; however, it was completely rewritten in the PC Special Edition and PlayStation version. This update included new graphics that made the tracks look like dirt. The game play was made easier and faster from the rally mode in the original PC version.
- The PSX and Saturn versions feature the same rally cheat as the PC "Special Edition" version. However they also feature two graphically enhanced rally variations of the "Rusty Springs" track. "Lunar Springs" (On the moon) and "Oasis Springs" (Desert like, the original however has pyramids).
- The PSX version has a cheat for a machine gun on the front of the players car which can shoot competitors and traffic
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