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The Need For Speed: SE

Written by Matt Phelan

Electronic Arts' The Need For Speed Special Edition was basically an update to the original, but you had to pay full for it as if it were a totally brand new game. Now that may sound kind of a greedy thing for EA to do, but I think it was worth it.

The main differences between the two games were that the Special Edition has full 32 bit Windows 95 support, where as the original was more of a DOS based game. Other features include an updated soundtrack, in which you can actually choose your favorite song, unlike in the original where the game played whatever it felt like playing, and also it added on time of day and one new track. The time of day was basically limited to Morning, Noon, and Evening. Some tracks had Morning, the others had Evening. All of them had noon however. Both Morning and Evening settings had pretty much the same effect, but I don't think anything else in the way of racing games had an option like this at the time.

This game, by far, was a very realistic game. Today, the time of fast computer growth and 3D hardware acceleration, the graphics may seem not so great. But back then, there were awesome, 640x480 was an incredible resolution for a game with these graphics. I for one think the tracks were the most realistic and best looking of all NFS games. Although Electronic Arts' most recent game, Porsche Unleashed/2000, may actually dethrone the original in that right. The physics were the best part. Keyboard players beware, the steering is slow with a keyboard. It's best to use a steering wheel to drive these cars. You read magazines on the old 993 Carrera's and it will tell you about the handling and it's surprise lift-off-throttle oversteer, you try the same manuever in the game, same result. This game was the most realistic racing simulation of it's kind (It's kind means supercars that are street legal. Papyrus' NASCAR games and Indy Car racing simulations, along with the Grand Prix series are all very realistic, but they're for pure racing cars, not exotic street legal cars.). This game was awesomely realistic in the way these cars performed. The only succeeding Need For Speed game to actually rival the realism of the original has been the newest game, Porsche Unleashed. Need For Speed 3 and 4 (III Hot Pursuit, and High Stakes, if you want the proper titles) were all out arcade racers they seemed. While they offered awesome graphics and great gameplay, especially in Hot Pursuit mode, and High Stakes' career mode, but they lacked the realism of the original. I still think the dashboards never looked better than they did in the original.

All the tracks in this game seemed to be very realistic, along with the segmented races, which were the only courses to offer traffic and cops. Unlike in newer Need For Speed games that have cops and even normal traffic on circuit courses, which to me seems kind of silly.

This game is definately worth the buy. It's very cheap now, and if you have something to control your car with, other than a keyboard, you should be in good shape. The keyboard isn't so bad, but it's kind of slow steering with it. A steering wheel gives you much more control in the game. This game is definately a must-have. Even though NFS: PU's physics have returned to the realism that the NFS should be, it's still arguable one which is more realistic, the original or the newest. But I have to thank EA for returning to the realistic ways, arcade racers don't provide much challenge and don't seem to be that much fun for me. Although I must admit the Hot Pursuit mode was very fun and very much worth buying the game, but for an all out realistic racer, which has, in my opinion, the best Showcases (which even include videos of each car, except the superfast and made up bonus car named the Warrior PTO E/2). Speaking of the bonus car, it was completely made up. But very awesome looking. It's engine sounds like a big turbine engine, and it's dashboard was a modified Corvette ZR-1's with a Lamborghini Diablo steering wheel painted light blue in the center. It also had the Diablo's four wheel drive system too. If you take it to the city, with the longest straights in the whole game, and you've earned rally mode too, then this car, if driven properly, can reach over 350 mph. The car can go faster, but there isn't a straight in the whole game that will give this car enough room to top out!!!

The cars in the game were the Ferrari 512TR, Lamborghini Diablo VT, Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra Twin Turbo, Acura NSX, Porsche 911 Carrera 2 (993), Corvette ZR-1, and the Dodge Viper RT/10. Quite an impressive list. The only thing that bugs most people is that even though there are newer Vipers and different models, EA hasn't put a Viper in any NFS game since the original. So if you want a realistic Viper drive, get this game!

The tracks list includes the original segmented courses from the original 3DO platform NFS (the original original), those courses were the City, Coastal, and Alpine. I think those names are fairly self explanatory. Then there comes the circuit courses (laps), Rusty springs, a desert course, in which you can also measure your cars performance in a single Time Trial race. You could measure braking distance from 60 mph and 80 mph. You can also measure your own acceleration times to 60 mph and 100 mph. Top speed couldn't be measured properly on all cars because it wasn't long enough for faster cars. Although some of the slower cars like the Supra could get to their own top speed. The only new track in the game was Transtropolis. This was a challenging track in which you drive through a parking garage and past many elevation changes and challenging curves past the airport. Now when you take off into the air near the airport, you won't be doing it in an airplane or jet! Your car will literally fly high in the air, just remember the keep it pointed in the right direction if you don't want to crash. The bonus track was very interesting. The first time I drove on it, I drove on it with my favorite car, the Lamborghini Diablo VT. The course was FAST!!! And this game has a realistic depiction of your speed, so it really scared me. But when I finally learned the course, I beat the records in the game by over one minute!!! And this course isn't a really large one either. Or atleast it doesn't seem that way when you're traveling so fast. You have to be careful with cars as fast as the bonus car though. You go too fast in a corner, then your car will slide up a little, get air under it, and flip high into the air without even hitting a car or a wall!! It just simply takes off. Much like last years Le Mans when Mercedes had some of their cars do the same thing.

I still would rate this game a first class game even compared to with much newer and graphically advanced racing games. The fun factor in this game was just completely awesome. I'd recommend it to any car fanatic. Plus the Showcases are very informative with awesome pictures, great commentary, good info to read, and kickass background music. I think the music in this game were the best of all the Need For Speed series games. In short, even though as I may try to make this game sound good, there is no substitute for experiencing it yourself. Go get a copy today. They're very cheap now because of age.