RIP Ralph Baer
I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...
Electronic Arts has been constantly rewriting the rules of the video-game street racing scene ever since they shocked the world with Need for Speed Underground. Underground was EA’s first foray into the “tuner” style market popularized by the important racing scene and an arguably fast and furious movie, and its timing to the extreme racing party couldn’t have been any better.
The second iteration of Underground hit when the import aftermarket was at its peak. Also helping the sales of Need for Speed Underground 2 was the fact that it was a solid game built upon the successful bits of its predecessor, not to mention it happened to be a car modder’s dream with its myriad customization options.
Seeing a need to change directions with the franchise, EA actually went back to the Hot Pursuit days and created the very well-received Need for Speed Most Wanted. While Most Wanted attracted new users with the po-po chases, the hardcore Underground guys seemed a bit left out in the cold. Need for Speed Carbon was EA’s prescribed remedy. Although a decent game, Carbon came off a bit too trendy and “tweener” for those wanting to relive the Underground experience.
The logical, next step for Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed series would have been Underground 3 or a reasonable facsimile of what a hardcore, next-gen street racer should be. For all intents and purposes, EA has created Need for Speed Underground 3—a.k.a., a hardcore tuner title. It just (thankfully) decided to name it Need for Speed ProStreet, and thankfully made racing in the daytime a reality.