Need for Speed: High Stakes

aka: NFS 4, Need for Speed 4, Need for Speed: Brennender Asphalt, Need for Speed: Conduite en état de liberté, Need for Speed: Road Challenge, Over Drivin' IV
Moby ID: 979
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

Just like its predecessors Need for Speed: High Stakes is an action racing game with a wide selection of exotic sports cars and many different types of tracks. The trademark Hot Pursuit mode game mode from the first game in the series is still present, where players race opponents on tracks filled with regular traffic and police cars that chase the racers. The classic pursuit mode is extended with two additional modes: Getaway and Time Trap. In Getaway the player needs to shake off the police in a set amount of time, or playing as the police trap a speeder before time runs out. In Time Trap an entire race needs to be completed before time runs out, or as the police all speeders need to be arrested. There are minor differences between the two platforms for this game mode, regarding spike strips, road blocks, and back-up. The latter for instance is unique to the PlayStation version. The Pursuit mode is available in multiplayer as well and players can take different sides or race together.

It is the first game in the series to introduce a Career mode with a set of challenges. Beating these is rewarded with trophies for unlocks, and money to spend on new cars, repairs and upgrades. In the PlayStation version the Career mode is split up into two different sets of challenges: Tournament (required races) and Special Event (optional races). High Stakes in the title refers to races where players bet their cars. In the PC version these are a part of the Career mode when the player owns more than two cars. In the PlayStation version two players can insert their memory cards and race against each other. The winner immediately receives the opponent's car and it is deleted from the loser's memory card right away.

In addition to the new game modes it is also the first game in the series to have a detailed physics models. Damage now affects both the appearance and the performance of the car for the first time.


  • Need for Speed: הדרך לניצחון - Hebrew spelling
  • 极品飞车:孤注一掷 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

209 People (185 developers, 24 thanks) · View all

Tools and Libraries
French Localization/Localization Manager
Translation (France)
Language Testing (France)
Quality Control (France)
French Voices
German Localization (Lead Localization)
German Localization (Translators)
Language Testing (Germany)
[ full credits ]



Average score: 86% (based on 38 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 79 ratings with 4 reviews)

The best racing game I have ever played, bar none.

The Good
Need for Speed: High Stakes is a logical upgrade to the previous game in the series, NFS3: Hot Pursuit.

I wrote all about what I enjoyed in NFS3 in my previous review for that game, so I won't rehash it here. What I will write about is what's been added to the game since NFS3 and what's been improved:

  • Campaign mode. There is a very long campaign mode that takes from 20 to 40 hours to complete, ranging from many different racetracks and natural settings, to "knockout" competitions, to the game's namesake "High Stakes" race where if you lose the race, you lose your car. That's right: You have money to spend and earn, which also leads to the inevitable garage of cars you can purchase if you do well enough. Of course, it also means you might have to sell your cars to earn money for upgrades or tournament entry fees.
  • Car damage is finally a part of the NFS series. The more you bang up your car or excessivly redline, the more you damage your engine, suspension, body, etc. The more banged-up you are, the worse the car performs, even to the point of your body scraping the ground during a sharp turn and slowing you down (complete with a hideous scraping noise and a shower of sparks). And in campaign mode, you have to pay to get your car repaired or it's still damaged in the next race.
  • The number of tracks have nearly doubled.
  • True Internet play. EA's beta Racing Program let me race 8 total strangers over the internet, which was a refreshing change from High Stakes' computer AI.
  • The number of songs that can be played during gameplay have nearly doubled.
  • The 3D hardware acceleration support has been improved. While some texture layering issues still exist (license plates sometimes flicker during odd object orientation or distance), most of the display glitches are gone. As Kasey Chang wrote in his review, it's the game that NFS3 was supposed to be.

    **The Bad**
    No game is perfect. As enamoured as I am with High Stakes, I have to point out a couple of flaws that may turn people off to the game. The online racing portion seems to need a lot of work. Over a year now (2000) and their EA Racing online program is still in beta, which is evidenced by the long sync time when trying to start a race and the confusing interface. Worst, however, is that in all versions of the game v4.44 and lower, it is possible to cheat by modifying the default car statistics and create a supercar under the guise of "Chevy Camaro" or some other car that can't possibly go 250mph. This was so offputting the first time I encountered it that I went back to Campaign play. I'll wait for a patch that prevents cheating, thank you very much. Some of the 3D elements aren't handled properly by all 3D cards and drivers. This is nitpicky, and I probably shouldn't even have mentioned it. I guess I just really wanted to see what "fog" looked like on my 3D card (a GeForce II GTS), but enabling that option turned the screen into a murky blue mess. Realism isn't exactly out the window, but it is annoying that cars won't flip over under extremely hard turns like they would in real life. I'm sure this decision was made so that you could master the arcade racing art of "powersliding" (which, I hate to admit, is a guilty pleasure of mine in any game that supports it). The interactive music of NFS3 is missing, replaced by songs that play once through and then switch to a new song. The songs are good, and there are many of them, but the single best thing about NFS3 was how the music was tied specifically to portions of the track and really helped build a powerful immersion into the game. I was really sad to see the interactive music missing in High Stakes. The car showcases have been pruned down a lot to just a few pictures and stats. This is a continuing trend in the series, as the first few games had full-motion video of the cars, and the latter games have only narration of statistics to a few static background pictures.

    **The Bottom Line**
    Simply the pinnacle of sportscar racing, if you don't mind a few arcade assists now and then. What it lacks in true realism, it makes up for with long replayability and good clean fun.
  • Windows · by Trixter (8962) · 2000

    The premier road racing game on the market today!

    The Good
    If you like beautiful cars, fine driving machines, NFS: High Stakes will pretty much drive you nuts. Two dozens beautiful top-of-the-line cars and a bunch of great circuits to race them on - what's better than that?

    The graphics in NFS are impressive and functional, but what sets this game apart is the racing. Arcade games offer both racing and hot pursuit (from both perspectives) fun, but the game's racuit circuits - which unlock more tracks - are the heart and soul of this game. You'll be racing cars on fabulously detailed tracks until 3 AM in a variety of race modes.

    Car handling is highly realistic (take it from me: Start with a slower car) and enemy AI is outstanding. No other road racing game touches it.

    The Bad
    The menus aren't very intuititive and can be confusing; you can play the game for months and still not remember how to get to some features. In-game, it's pretty much perfect.

    The Bottom Line
    If you like racing games, you should have NFS: High Stakes.

    Windows · by Rick Jones (96) · 2001

    What NFS3: Hot Pursuit should have been

    The Good
    Career mode, ability to upgrade cars, more tracks (total of nineteen this time), more cars, more hot pursuit, damage model, multiple weather conditions, high-stakes mode (race for ownership of the cars)...

    The Bad
    Circuit tracks only, night and snow driving too hard, upgrades too simple (just none, level 1, 2, and 3), driving model leaves a lot to be desired, damage model too relaxed (damage doesn't have that much effect on your handling), not enough low-end cars (only 2)

    The Bottom Line
    NFS: High Stakes has plenty of cars, plenty of tracks, plenty of racing modes, and a full racing career mode. It just needs more detailed upgrades, a more realistic driving model, some non-racing missions (like Gran Tourismo's "driving licenses or Porsche Unleashed's Factory Driver), and some non-circuit tracks to be a true classic. It's nearly perfect as is, and highly recommended for any driving/racing fans.

    Windows · by Kasey Chang (4599) · 2000

    [ View all 4 player reviews ]



    Depending on which country you are racing in, Police car have different paintings - and even different sirens.

    Taco Den

    If you go behind the Taco Den on the Redrock Ridge track, you'll hear people burping inside.


    • Computer Gaming World
      • March 2000 (Issue #188) – Racing Game of the Year

    Information also contributed by Erik Niklas


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    Contributors to this Entry

    Game added by MAT.

    PlayStation added by Brolin Empey.

    Additional contributors: Cochonou, Rebound Boy, Zovni, Exodia85, formercontrib, Crawly, CaesarZX, Patrick Bregger, Victor Vance.

    Game added March 6, 2000. Last modified January 21, 2024.