Need for Speed: High Stakes
|Need for Speed: High Stakes|
|Developer(s)||EA Canada (PS)|
EA Seattle (PC)
|Programmer(s)||Daniel Teh (PS1)|
Sam Deasy (PC)
|Composer(s)||Rom Di Prisco|
|Series||Need for Speed|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, Microsoft Windows|
Tournament and Special Event/Career Mode
The career system of this entry consists of two modes: "Tournament", straightforward series of races with certain cars; and "Special Event", similar to Tournament, but with various conditions such as with night driving or with a fully upgraded car. Completing races earns the player credits which are used to buy new cars for new events and to upgrade old cars to make events a little easier. Completing races also unlocks the tracks for single race purposes, and completing Tournament events unlocks the Special Event events. Beating all events of Tournament or Special Events will unlock one of two secret cars to purchase; the player also gets a free sample at the same time.
The PC version is somewhat different, starting with having everything under a clear "Career Mode". All events are split into "tiers", a selection of 1 to 5 individual competitions. Usually, one of those competitions is a "High Stakes" race, where the player bets their current car.
In High Stakes, two racers bet their cars on a duel; the winner of the race keeps their car and gains the loser's. The player or players must own more than one car to participate in a High Stakes race.
Getaway and Time Trap
In addition to the "Classic" mode, which plays similarly to the previous Hot Pursuit, High Stakes introduces "Getaway" and "Time Trap" modes. In Getaway, the speeder must evade the police or the police must catch the speeder within the time limit. If the speeder has not been arrested when time is up, the player has the option to quit to the Race Results menu or to continue play for as long as possible. In Time Trap, the speeder must complete a race or the police must arrest all racers (ten in the PS version) within the time limit. The police can set up spike strips and road blocks, and even call for backup.
An updated Hot Pursuit mode also returns from Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit. High Stakes is largely based on Need For Speed III with updated racing modes. The standard races and police pursuits are bolstered by a new type of race (High Stakes) and two new pursuit modes (Getaway and Time Trap). Vehicle physics are also improved, chiefly with the introduction of a damage model that affects both the appearance and performance of a given vehicle.
Unlike the PC version of the video game which was based on the previous instalment in the series, the PlayStation version benefitted from improved graphics and vehicle physics with the introduction of new modes namely Test Drive and Special Events. The Test Drive mode lets the player drive selected cars on tracks which are unlocked, although some cars and tracks need to be unlocked by progressing through the Tournament mode. The Special Events mode requires the player to have a specified car with upgrades along with requiring the player to submit an entry fee to enter. The Knockout mode was specific to the Special Events mode. The damage model, vehicle upgradation and the career progression system are carried over from the PC version. Another notable change from the previous instalment was the ability to choose police cars in the Hot Pursuit mode, requiring the player to arrest a specific number of racers if a police car was chosen. Pursuit assists such as Spike Strips, Roadblocks and Backup units were available to the player during the race. The player was awarded with faster police cars and new upgrades when the racers were stopped within the allocated time. Bonus time was also awarded if the racers were stopped quickly.
In the German market, Need for Speed: High Stakes' PlayStation version received a "Gold" award from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD) by the end of July 1999, indicating sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Need for Speed: High Stakes received positive reviews from critics upon release, mostly for the new features such as vehicle damage, vehicle customization and the new career mode, as well as for its exciting police chases. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation version 84.38% and 86/100, and GameRankings gave the PC version 83.08%. In Japan, Famitsu gave the PS version a score of 30 out of 40. In the UK, Official UK PlayStation Magazine gave the same version eight out of ten'. However, Official UK PlayStation Magazine also said that (like its previous installment) it could not compete with other racing titles such as Gran Turismo and R4: Ridge Racer Type 4.
Next Generation reviewed the PlayStation version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "High Stakes has taken the impressive gains of Hot Pursuit and added more than enough new features and modes to attract series fans and newcomers alike. If you like fast cars – or just running from the cops – you'll love this game."
Buck DeFore reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "Greater than the sum of its parts, High Stakes has fun where it counts – in spades."
High Stakes was named the best racing game of 1999 by CNET Gamecenter. It was a runner-up for Computer Games Strategy Plus's prize in this category, which ultimately went to Dirt Track Racing. The editors wrote, "Graphically, it has few peers. And the High Stakes mode really made it more than just another pretty face."
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