Need for Speed (NFS) is a racing video game franchise published by Electronic Arts and currently developed by Criterion Games, the developers of Burnout.
The series generally centers around illicit street racing and tasks players to complete various types of races while evading the local law enforcement in police pursuits. The series is one of EA’s oldest franchises not under their EA Sports brand.
Almost all of the games in the NFS series employ the same fundamental rules and similar mechanics: the player controls a race car in a variety of races, the goal being to win the race. In the tournament/career mode, the player must win a series of races in order to unlock vehicles and tracks. Before each race, the player chooses a vehicle and has the option of selecting either an automatic or manual transmission. All games in the series have some form of multiplayer mode allowing players to race one another via a split screen, a LAN or the Internet. Since Need for Speed: High Stakes, the series has also integrated car body customization into gameplay.
Although the games share the same name, their tone and focus can vary significantly. For example, in some games the cars can suffer mechanical and visual damage, while in other games the cars cannot be damaged at all; in some games, the software simulates real-car behavior (physics), while in others there are more forgiving physics.
With the release of Need for Speed: Underground, the series shifted from racing sports cars on scenic point-to-point tracks to an import/tuner subculture involving street racing in an urban setting. To date, this theme has remained prevalent in most of the following games.