The popular racing game franchise, Need for Speed, is getting an unique and innovative infusion of reality. With its many incarnations since its inception in 1994, Canadian Based Electronic Arts has been striving to remain on the cutting edge of entertainment and computer generated graphics.
The Need for Speed Franchise has enjoyed success with several other titles: Hot Pursuit (1998), High Stakes (1999), Porsche Unleashed (2000), and Most Wanted (2005) to name a few. The Need For Speed Franchise maintains its leadership in popularity and innovation with the of the sharpest, coolest racing video games around. NFS: Underground (2003-4) introduced new customization features which enable players to chose preferred car body design and allowing personalized vehicles, under the hood and bumper to bumper. EA has also taken the next step to improve the entertainment quotient by investing in the narrative portions of the game.
The New Players
Need For Speed: Undercover features narrative interstitials that drive the storyline. Undercover’s key storyline centers around FBI Agent Chase Linh, played the seductive international film star Maggie Q (Mission Impossible III). What makes these narrative segments any different? The storyline of the game, shot by filmmakers on the ever-popular digital film surrogate, RED ONE Camera. The raw high definition “footage” of the RED ONE is arguably comparable to the 35mm film. As producer Eric Mofford of Unconventional Media explains, looks are everything. “Electronic Arts envisioned this movie within a game, and we gave them a big budget feature film look and a story backed up by fast-paced images and colorful characters.”
Adds director / production designer Joseph Hodges (“24”), “… the bigger creative challenge for us was to develop something that was seamless with the game’s look and keep it fresh.” Director of photography Jeffrey Seckendorf notes that shooting with RED ONE “…allows EA to work at a much higher resolution level than previous games. The result is the interjection of live action segments and raising of the bar in terms of the look and style of the racing NFS, all melded into a cross-media platform emergence which is the first of its kind.
Gaming Goes Hollywood
Electronic Arts and Unconventional Media seem to recognize the growing sophistication of gamers and as well as media consumers. This collaboration creates a new model of invisibly combining large-budget, visually-heightened, feature film look and attention to engrossing, live action narrative, proves that both companies seems to smartly and respectfully acknowledge that their consumer base is in fact, their audience. EA and Unconventional are doing their best to provide an intricate and inclusive gaming experience which provides competitive racing excitement and a cinematic experience.
Unconventional’s Eric Mofford best sums up the goal of the joint venture. “People still want engaging stories, but with the increased presence of filmed content for gaming…it’s up to us, the content providers to develop ideas for their increasingly sophisticated tastes.”
Need For Speed: Undercover is set for release on November 18, 2008.