Need for Speed (NFS) is a series of video games by EA Games released on platforms including personal computers, Nintendo, and PlayStation 2 consoles. The games consist of racing with various cars on various tracks.
Origin of the series
It is possible that the NFS series was launched as a direct competition to Accolade's hit Test Drive series of racing games.
Need for Speed installments
The Need for Speed (1994)
The original Need for Speed was released for 3DO in 1994 with versions for PlayStation, PC, and Sega Saturn following shortly afterwards (1995 and 1996). The first version featured being chased by police cars which remained a popular theme throughout the series. The Hot Pursuit (Need for Speed III and Need for Speed VI) editions have sold better in the marketplace than intervening versions. There was also a special edition of the PC CD-ROM game sold, that was able to run natively under Win9x, supported DirectX2 plus TCP/IP-network and included 2 bonus tracks and various enhancements in game engine. The first one of the NFS-series was beyond doubt the only attempt to give you real car physics, without unnecessary arcade-elements (taking given hardware performance into account). The game contained precise vehicle data with spoken commentary and the cars themselves were not as much exotic as in most of the sequels. Focussing the goal of realistic driving-simulation, Electronic Arts teamed-up with the state of the art magazine Road&Track to match vehicle behaviour including such as specific engine and gear control lever(!) sound.
Need for Speed II (1997)
NFS II featured only three racing modes: tournament, knock-out, and single race.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998)
NFS III added hot pursuit mode, in which the player either escaped from police or tried to arrest speeders. In NFS III, most cars and tracks were not available at the beginning of the game' they had to be unlocked. It is the highest-selling of all Need for Speed games and is the most popular one. This game also was the first to allow actual download of additional cars.
Need for Speed: High Stakes / Road Challenge (1999)
High Stakes (US title) and Road Challenge (European title)was released in the summer of 1999. It was widely criticised for being too similar to NFS III.
Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed / Porsche 2000 (2000)
Porsche Unleashed (US title) and Porsche 2000 (European title) was different because it had very good graphics and it featured only Porsches. The cars were more realistic than in other NFS games. The player had to win races to unlock cars in chronological order from 1960s to 1990s. It also featured a factory driver mode, where the player had to test Porsches with various stunts and move on with his career. The game featured a lot of information about Porsches. It was the first NFS game that didn't have a split screen mode. In later years, it was released for Game Boy Advance.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (2002)
Hot Pursuit 2 was essentially NFS III with improved graphics. However, the game received mixed reviews and was a commercial failure because of its overly arcade-like gameplay. Also, the additional downloads of cars are hard to find. This was also actually more than just a game, it was a game sub-collection, due to each system version doesn't have same exact tracks and gameplay.
Need for Speed Underground (2003)
NFSU is unique within the series: it has a storyline, and players can fully customize their cars. However, die-hard NFS fans were still not happy with the arcade-like controls and the change toward the series' vehicle selection pertaining to tuner culture, rather than exotics found in older Need for Speed games.
Need for Speed Underground 2 (2004)
NFSU 2, the sequel to the commercial hit Need for Speed Underground, was released on November 15, 2004. It is possible to download the NFSU 2 demo from the official EA Games site.  (http://www.eagames.com/) In this installment the NFSU story continues, but there are new racing modes such as the Underground Racing League and Street X, new tuning options, as well as a new method of selecting races—just driving around the city (similar to Grand Theft Auto) and selecting race "beacons." Also included is a "challenge" mode where a player can challenge random opponents on the road and attempt to outrun them.
- category at ODP (http://dmoz.org/Games/Video_Games/Driving_and_Racing/Simulations/Need_for_Speed_Series/)