Updated / Need for Speed slowing down, starting over

I’ve played about 20 minutes of Need for Speed: Undercover and can tell you all that the once proud franchise has fallen far from its original roots. It could also be that the once proud franchise hasn’t updated or modernized since its inception either. Whichever it is, the series is seriously lagging behind. This would have been fine for the old EA, who was always content to make money off a name, but new EA wants to make money off a name by appealing to everyone. Thus they have announced three new NFS games arriving in 2009 that will reboot the series. One will be for the hardcore market, one for the casual market and one for the online market.

Need for Speed: Shift will be developed by Slightly Mad, who have some serious racing game pedigree, for the 360, PS3, PC and PSP and will be geared towards the hardcore gamer. Gone are the antics of previous titles as this will be a more serious take on racing. The second game will be Need for Speed: Nitro for the Wii and DS and will be developed by EA Montreal. Nitro is geared towards casual gamers and hardcore alike and will feature “a fresh and unique visual style that is very Need for Speed.” The third game is Need for Speed: World Online, which will be a free online game which will debut this Summer in Asia and near Christmas in the West. Blackbox, or what is left of it, and EA Singapore are working out this one.

Let’s read between the lines and sum up each game right here: Shift will be a solid racer chasing after GT and Forza, Nitro will be Mario Kart with shiny cars and World Online will be huge in Asia and not grab much attention in Western markets. Sound about right?

Update: First images from each game: Shift, Nitro, World Online