Screenshot of Need For Speed Heat while being chased by cops
Image via Electronic Arts

Best Need for Speed Games, Ranked

Squeeze out your "Need for Speed" with the best games in the franchise!

Need for Speed games defined and became the face of the arcade-style racing genre. While it isn’t the most realistic racing game, it thrives in its style and groove. Considering that many Need For Speed games are available, we chose the top seven that embody NFS as a franchise. In descending order, below is our list of best Need for Speed games.

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7. Need For Speed: Carbon

Artwork of Need For Speed Carbon
Image via Electronic Arts

Although Need For Speed: Carbon doesn’t tower over Underground 2 or Most Wanted, the game is still a great NFS that thrives with a serviceable story and exhilarating gameplay. The graphics looked great at the time, and its presentation with its UI and the neon lights in the city truly made the game come alive. Carbon also refined the gameplay of previous games while giving a genuinely open-world experience to the players. The world also feels dense, and each terrain differs from the others. The best part about Carbon is the events against rival territories to conquer their areas.

6. Need For Speed: Shift

Cockpit view of Need For Speed Shift
Image via Electronic Arts

Need For Speed: Shift is a different game that fans weren’t used to as it seems to emulate Gran Turismo. It was a step away from the norm regarding the standards set by previous Need For Speed games. However, it’s a fun change that fans welcomed and adored. The wide array of cars and the depth of customization lifted the game to the next level. The cockpit view was also very immersive at the time, with an excellent sound design to match. Then again, we just really thoroughly enjoyed playing Need For Speed: Shift, and it deserves a spot here in our best Need For Speed games.

Related: Forza Horizon 5 vs. Gran Turismo 7 – Which is better?

5. Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered Police Screenshot
Image via Electronic Arts

While the original Hot Pursuit (2010) was a masterpiece, we decided to include the remastered version instead. It’s a coat of new paint for one of the classic Need For Speed games. The game flourishes in a wreckless, speedy, and arcade-y type of racing that injects adrenaline into the player’s veins. The remastered version looks great and performs great on all systems and consoles. It’s good that EA did not change much from the original, which genuinely did Hot Pursuit justice to its awesome gameplay.

4. Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012)

Need For Speed Most Wanted 2012 in-game screenshot with slippery roads
Image via Electronic Arts

Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012) is a runback to the classic MW (2005). Following the disappointing game, the series returned to its roots with a not-so-perfect racing experience but excels in fun and open-ended street racing. The game’s sheer various open-world areas and hidden areas helped it from becoming too repetitive. The game also offers perfectly unrealistic car handling, making it feel like you’re playing a Fast and Furious film video game. It also rewards players for being aggressive and is very forgiving regarding execution.

3. Need For Speed: Heat

Need For Speed Heat Screenshot during a Cop Chase
Image via Electronic Arts

Need For Speed: Heat is another game that tries to take inspiration from the game’s original formula. You can see a Need For Speed: Underground tone throughout the gameplay, which makes it an excellent game. The best feature of Need For Speed: Heat is the day and night mode. Day mode contains legal races, while Night mode allows you to conduct illegal street races, and honestly, we feel that Night mode truly defines the spirit of Need For Speed games.

Related: How to sell cars in Need for Speed Heat

2. Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2005)

Need For Speed Most Wanted 2005 in-game screenshot with a red car
Image via Electronic Arts

The original Need For Speed: Most Wanted is an excellent gem in the racing game. With the big shoes the game needed to fill after the highly-regarded Underground 2, Most Wanted exceeded fans’ expectations. The memorable soundtrack is one of the best aspects of Most Wanted that we love. The characters were a bit cliché, but it’s enough to give us a good and serviceable story. The game also has an arguably better free roam than Underground 2, making the experience more natural. Most Wanted (2005) deserves to be the second-best Need For Speed game.

1. Need For Speed: Underground 2

Green Race Car in the main menu of Need For Speed Underground 2
Image via Electronic Arts

Need For Speed: Underground 2 feels near and dear to NFS fans’ hearts. The vast customization in the game knocks the prequel out of the park. The game also implemented the first open-world experience for the Need For Speed series. Underground 2 does a great job of implementing the progression system by unlocking areas as you get further into the game. Without implementing a fast travel system, you can explore each street that genuinely feels unique and memorable. For all of these reasons, we gave Underground 2 the crown for being the best Need For Speed game.

For more coverage on this incredible racing franchise, Need For Speed, check out Need for Speed Unbound release date, campaign, content updates, and more, and Is Need for Speed Unbound Multiplayer? here at Pro Game Guides.

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Best Need for Speed Games, Ranked

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