EA has announced that the Need for Speed series has sold more than 100 million units since its launch in 1994.
Almost ten years ago, my dad came bursting into our living room like a deep-space marine in Berserk mode. He entered at such speed that there may well have been nitrous leaving his rear end. "Ronan," he said in a voice nothing like Mario's, "It's time you learned how to drive!"
Three hours later, cursing F-Zero under my breath, I realised that games really couldn't prepare you for the reality of gear sticks and clutches. And irate fathers certainly don't match up to that blonde one from OutRun. Except, perhaps, in the arm-waving department. The point is, Need for Speed Underground Rivals reminded me why learning to drive is bothersome: controls. Or more specifically, the sense of control.
By now, we all know that current advocates of the racing genre tend to fall into two camps - the car lovers, and the thrill-seekers. The car lovers will often accept frustrating gameplay issues and tedium so long as the chassis is classy, much like Pro Evo fans accept its pinball effect in the face of the game's overall brilliance. The thrill-seekers, meanwhile, don't really care what the mode of transportation is, so long as the game excites them on some level, be it through speed, or decent AI, or weapons.