Need for Speed: High Stakes

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Need for Speed: High Stakes
NFS High Stakes box.jpg
Developer(s) EA Canada (PS)
EA Seattle (PC)
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Series Need for Speed
Platform(s) PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) PlayStation
  • JP June 17, 1999
  • EU 1999
Microsoft Windows
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

Need for Speed: High Stakes, released as Need for Speed: Road Challenge in Europe and Brazil and Over Drivin' IV in Japan, is a 1999 racing video game released by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation. A version of the game was released for Microsoft Windows-based computers a few months later.

It is the fourth game in the Need for Speed series, once again featuring a host of exotic sport cars and tracks located in Western Europe and North America. High Stakes is particularly notable within the series for being the first installment to include a vehicle damage model and a genre-standard "career" system.


High Stakes builds upon the previous Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit. 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). The now-standard career system was introduced, with its scenarios and budget balancing. Vehicle physics are also improved, chiefly with the introduction of a damage model that affects both the appearance and performance of a given vehicle.

Tournament and Special Event/Career Mode[edit]

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. As you complete races, you acquire 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.

High Stakes[edit]

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.

On the PlayStation version, it is a special multiplayer mode, which requires two memory cards inserted; the loser's car is deleted immediately after the race to prevent reloading the save file to potentially save the car. On the PC version, High Stakes races are only found in the Career Mode, and the cars anted are of similar performance to the player's vehicle.

Getaway and Time Trap[edit]

A police pursuit in High Stakes, PC version. The new car damage is evident, with slight wear and tear visible on the player's car and the pursuing police vehicle.

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 (2 minutes in the PC version). 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 stripes and road blocks, and even call for backup (PS version only).


Some improvements have been made to pursuit AI and tactics in High Stakes. Jersey barriers, hay bales, traffic, and flares are added as roadblocks, while a new police helicopter allows the police to trace speeding cars from the air. However, the helicopter cannot detect speeders hiding in buildings or tunnels, which only appear in the PC version. Finally, in the PS version, an AI officer with a supercar may join the chase if the speeders do too well.

Police vehicles remain relatively diverse, with vehicles such as the Porsche 911, the BMW M5, and the Chevrolet Caprice changing color schemes corresponding to their geographical location. Police radio chatter is also unique to the country the tracks are set in, with police accents in Scotland and England or Australia (in the Australian version of the game, on the Durham Road track, the cops will still speak with the British accent, despite being set in Australia) distinctively different from each other and to those from the United States or Canada, and can be toggled on/off and replaced by American/Canada police chatter in the track options menu. Exceptions to this include police based in non-English-speaking countries, which are substituted by American/Canada police chatter, though the PS version allows European police chatter in German and French.

The damage model[edit]

Speeder, traffic, and police vehicles are susceptible to physical and visual damage, ranging from broken taillights, wobbling wheels, and a dented bodywork, to performance penalties in the form of damaged suspensions or a battered engine. Such damages are easily inflicted by hitting objects (including signboards), landing too hard, or rolling over, and may hamper their performance and victory in races. Vehicle damage can be toggled on or off in the standard race and police pursuit modes, but it is always enabled in the career modes; this also requires the player to spend cash on any repairs after races (immediately after in the PS version, on-demand in the PC version).


Like the previous games, the car selection consists mainly of supercars and roadsters, somewhat divided by class. Vehicles include the Aston Martin DB7, the BMW M5 E39, the BMW Z3, the Chevrolet Camaro Z28, the Chevrolet Corvette C5, the Ferrari F50, the Ferrari 550 Maranello, the Jaguar XKR, the Lamborghini Diablo SV, the McLaren F1 GTR, the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, and the Porsche 911 Turbo 993.

Other regional versions of the game introduce cars such as the HSV SV99 (Series 2), the La Niña, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34.


There are ten original race tracks in High Stakes, with three "Raceway" tracks. The PC version adds the nine tracks from Hot Pursuit, but they must be unlocked.


In High Stakes, instead of the mixture of electronic and rock music genres from Hot Pursuit, only electronic music is available. The interactive music feature, including pursuit music, was also dropped and themed tracks were no longer used (although it was reintroduced in Need for Speed: Most Wanted for pursuits; for regular races this feature was used again only in Carbon). Instead, the playlist randomizes racing music on each circuit. In the Sony PlayStation version, a pop-up notification appears in the corner of the screen to signify the beginning of new music track, along with the name of the track and the artist that composed the track that is similar to EA TRAX pop-up in Hot Pursuit 2.

In the PC version, users can go to "options" and "audio settings" to listen to songs from audio CDs within the game.[citation needed]

There are 20 songs used in gameplay:

  • Saki Kaskas - "Amorphous Being"
  • Lunatic Calm - "Roll The Dice"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Rock This"
  • Dylan Rhymes - "Naked and Ashamed"
  • Junkie XL - "War"
  • Crispin Hands - "Bionic"
  • The Funk Lab - "I Am Electro"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Liquid Plasma"
  • Junkie XL - "Fight"
  • DJ Icey - "Clutch"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Bring That Beat Back"
  • Dastrix - "Dude In The Moon"
  • Junkie XL - "Def Beat"
  • The Experiment - "Cost Of Freedom"
  • Saki Kaskas - "Globular Cluster"
  • Junkie XL - "No Remorse"
  • Surreal Madrid - "Insanity Sauce"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Road Warrior"
  • Saki Kaskas - "Callista" (replay music in PS1 version)
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Electro Optik" (replay music in PS1 version)

Main Menu & Showroom

  • Rom Di Prisco - "Cygnus Rift"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Paradigm Shifter"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Photon Rez"
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Quantum Singularity"
  • Saki Kaskas - "Bulbular Swirl"
  • Saki Kaskas - "Bulbulous Swirl"
  • Saki Kaskas - "Callista" (Car Select menu music in PC version)
  • Rom Di Prisco - "Groovalicious"
  • Saki Kaskas - "Kaphunk"
  • Rom Di Prisco, Saki Kaskas, Crispin Hands & Robert Ridihalgh - "Runnin'" (Credits)

Online features (PC version)[edit]

In 1998, Electronic Arts developed a beta version of an online gameplay server called Electonic Arts Online Racing for High Stakes. Despite numerous problems requiring unending patience on the part of the players, the Online version of this game developed a loyal fanbase. When Electronic Arts took down this beta server in October 2003, as well as the online server for the PC version of Porsche Unleashed, several of the fans of these games united to create their own online system to support the two games. The IPLounge program, coupled with the High Stakes Online Scoring System (HOSS), has been serving a small diehard community of fans racing in High Stakes online since October 2004.

Software problems (PC version)[edit]

High Stakes installs successfully onto Windows XP, but fails to run on some XP installations, displaying the message "Not a valid Win32 application" or something similar. Due to its popularity with Need for Speed fans, many unofficial patches have been produced to not only make it work successfully on XP, but also to increase the maximum polygon count on cars in the game (the original game crashed in car selection menu if the vehicle had more than 5000 polygons due to the mirrored floor; the patch removes this effect). However, even with fixed menus, the game can crash during loading or even when the race is in progress, if high-polygon cars are used; this does not apply to the cars present in the game and with official add-ons), generally improve the graphics and to fix some errors, such as not saving options and constantly displaying only 1Mb free warning.

EA released an official 4.50 "Internet Beta Test Patch" that enables the game to run on XP without any OS-related errors.[citation needed] However, the patch does not update the 3D Setup, so the game cannot recognize most video cards; this can be helped with replacement of d3da.dll by a more modern version, such as the version used for Porsche Unleashed.[citation needed]

The IPLounge Stock and Expansion Packs make the game Windows 7-compatible. They include the v4.50 patch, plus other patches like the high polygon menus patch, the 1MB error fix, and even a Glide wrapper.

There have also been efforts to run the game in Linux using Wine, documented here.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS) 84.38%[3]
(PC) 83.08%[4]
Metacritic (PS) 86/100[5]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame (PC) 3.5/5 stars[6]
(PS) 3/5 stars[7]
Famitsu 30/40[8]
Game Informer 8.75/10[9]
GameSpot (PS) 8.7/10[10]
(PC) 8.6/10[11]
IGN (PS) 8.8/10[1]
(PC) 7.5/10[2]
OPM (UK) 8/10[12]
The Cincinnati Enquirer 3/4 stars[13]

Need for Speed: High Stakes was met with positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation version 84.38% and 86/100,[3][5] and GameRankings gave the PC version 83.08%.[4] In Japan, Famitsu gave the PS version a score of 30 out of 40.[8] In the UK, Official UK PlayStation Magazine gave the same version eight out of ten and said that it was fun, but that it could not compete with Ridge Racer 4.[12]


  1. ^ a b Perry, Douglass C. (March 24, 1999). "Need for Speed 4: High Stakes [sic] (PS)". IGN. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Lopez, Vincent (June 29, 1999). "Need for Speed 4: High Stakes [sic] (PC)". IGN. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Need for Speed: High Stakes for PlayStation". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved March 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Need for Speed: High Stakes for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved March 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Need for Speed: High Stakes for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved March 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ Wigmore, Glenn. "Need for Speed: High Stakes (PC) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  7. ^ The Jaded Critic. "Need for Speed: High Stakes (PS) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "プレイステーション - オーバードライビンIV". Famitsu 915: 20. June 30, 2006. 
  9. ^ McNamara, Andy; Anderson, Paul; Reiner, Andrew (April 15, 1999). "Need for Speed: High Stakes (PS)". Game Informer. Archived from the original on May 20, 2000. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (March 31, 1999). "Need for Speed: High Stakes Review (PS)". GameSpot. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ Chin, Elliott (July 9, 1999). "Need for Speed: High Stakes Review (PC)". GameSpot. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Need for Speed: Road Challenge". Official UK PlayStation Magazine (Future Publishing) (46). June 1999. 
  13. ^ Bottorff, James (1999). "High Stakes passes with flying colors". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 

External links[edit]