Need for Speed Wiki
Need for Speed Wiki

Need for Speed: The Run is the 18th title in the Need for Speed series developed by EA Black Box with the Wii and 3DS releases being developed by Firebrand Games.

The title was accidentally leaked as an upcoming release by, but the title was unveiled as in development by an EA representative via IGN.

A teaser for the game was released onto YouTube.[1] New information regarding the game was revealed monthly until the release date.[2]

Need for Speed: The Run uses the Frostbite 2 game engine developed by DICE to create unparalleled visual quality, animation and physics.[3]

The game was released on November 15, 2011 in North America, on November 17, 2011 in the United Kingdom, and November 18, 2011 in Europe.

It was released on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS.[4]

According to EA Black Box producers Jason DeLong and Steve Anthony, Need for Speed: The Run was developed to obtain critical acclaim after their last installment, Need for Speed: Undercover, was slammed by most game critics.[5]

Need for Speed: The Run had been in production for three years unlike earlier Need for Speed titles, which have had notably shorter development periods.[6]

A demo of the game featuring the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 18, 2011.

Online services were shut down on August 31, 2021.



The Run is a race across North America from San Francisco to New York City. 200 of the best racers compete against each other with the first to cross the finish line being awarded $25,000,000.

The Career Mode of the game is divided into ten stages. Each stage of the Career Mode follows a series of events though an area of North America. The first stage of The Run starts in San Francisco on the West coast with the last stage taking place in New York City on the East coast.

The story is set in a similar style to the 1981 film The Cannonball Run.


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An XP system is utilised in Need for Speed: The Run in a similar manner as seen in Shift 2: Unleashed and Hot Pursuit. XP points can be obtained by performing car stunts, overtaking racers and instances of dangerous driving. These points are required to raise the player's driver level and unlock new game content.

The handling of the game is said to be a mixture of Hot Pursuit and Shift. It is designed to be accessible for beginners yet challenging for advanced players.[7] Nitrous is available in any event of the game and will automatically recharge itself after usage.

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Cars handle similarly to their real life examples, although with an arcade overlay and will greatly differ from each other depending on the type of vehicle that they are.[8] Need for Speed: The Run uses a handling rating for each car, with ratings ranging from Easy to Expert.

The collision model in Need for Speed: The Run is similar to that seen in Hot Pursuit[9] although a race will immediately end if the player wrecks their vehicle without any checkpoint resets. A Rewind option allows the player to restart an event from their last checkpoint if they wreck their vehicle by a collision or by driving off the race course.

Rewinds are only available in limited quantities as their amount is dependent on the difficulity level that the player has selected; Easy has 10 Rewinds, Normal has 5 Rewinds, Hard has 3 Rewinds and Extreme has 1 Rewind as well as the most difficult AI opponents.[10]


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A day-night cycle combined with occasional weather changes are featured in Need for Speed: The Run, although they are scripted to specific events and occurrences. There is no free roam mode in the game. Justin Wiebe said that Need for Speed: The Run will have approximately 186 miles (300 km) of road.[11]

Need for Speed: The Run features a variety of terrain that will affect the performance and gameplay that players will experience. This includes asphalt, dirt, snow, ice, fog, dust storms, and avalanches.

Quick-Time Events

Need for Speed: The Run allows players to control their character during special on foot sequences. This gameplay element is in the form of Quick-Time Events wherein the player must tap buttons on the controller when prompted to progress the story. These events only make up a very small amount of the total game.[12]

Race Types

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Similar to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, most events seen in Need for Speed: The Run are Sprint Races. There are also Checkpoint Race events. The game also features Battle Races, which are technically alike to Sprints, as well as Rival Races, which involves in the player competing with particular racers of Need for Speed: The Run. In some events of the game, gas stations can be found, where the player can swap and visually modify their vehicle.

Single Player

  • Sprint Race - The player has to complete the event and overtake all opponents within the race.
  • Checkpoint Race - A time trial with a series of checkpoints. The player must pass through a set series of checkpoints to earn additional time added before it expires.
  • Battle Race - The player races with three or more rivals in a sprint race with the task of overtaking and maintaining a lead over each rival before time expires.
  • Rival Race - The player must overtake a rival before they reach the finish line.
  • Survival - The player must not wreck their vehicle whilst being under attack.


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Up to 8 players can participate in a single online match split into differing vehicle-restricted Playlists such as Exotic Sprint, Mixed Competition, Muscle Car Battles, NFS Edition Racing, Underground, and Supercar Challenge.[13]

Players can select an event and vote towards the race course that the multiplayer game will be taking place on. Players also take part in a reward system known as the Bonus Wheel, which randomly selects a reward and required goal criteria.[14]

A multiplayer trailer released on November 2, 2011 showcased a series of multiplayer matches.


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Pursuits can occur during certain stages of The Run, with each occurrence bringing a more powerful form of law enforcement.

The police in the game utilise roadblocks and occasionally perform ramming tactics. Police cars have a health bar displayed above their vehicles.

Challenge Series

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The player can unlock a category of events within the Challenge Series by completing a stage within the Career Mode.

Each category in the Challenge Series contains a series of events that are based on courses, events, circumstances and obstacles featured in the corresponding Career Mode stage.

The player is awarded medals and unlocks based on their performance within each event.


The demo takes place along Death Valley National Park (Desert Hill) in Nevada, where Jack has to overtake ten opponents. Another event takes place along Independence Pass (Summit) in Colorado where Jack competes against the driver of an Audi R8.

The player is rewarded with experience points for certain driving stunts such as overtaking, landing a high jump and for near misses with traffic. Players can earn combos for quickly overtaking several opponents.[15]

Players had the chance to win a trip to a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit launch party in Las Vegas if they beat Chrissy Teigen's time on Desert Hills.[16]

For recommending the demo to friends, players would receive access to the 2012 model Porsche 911 Carrera S (991).[17] By downloading the demo, the BMW 1 Series M Coupe NFS Edition is instantly unlocked for players of the full game.



EA announced that the social network Autolog is more enhanced than seen in previous games.[18] The split timer of the Stage leader now gets updated second-by-second which indicates how close the player is to beating their time.

Players are rewarded additional XP and new vehicles for beating times as well as Autolog Recommendations. Players are also able to check the career progress of their friends.[19]

Facebook features an application for Autolog of Need for Speed: The Run.


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Vehicles in Need for Speed: The Run are divided into performance tiers and fitted with visual modifications. These pre-tuned vehicles are branded as special edition vehicles, namely Signature Edition and NFS Edition vehicles. Compared to their stock counterparts, they are performance tuned and often ranked in higher tiers.

The handling of each car is also given either an Easy, Normal, Challenging, Very Difficult or Expert difficulty rating.[20] Some vehicles are restricted to The Run mode. In this mode and during a race event, players can also swap their vehicle in gas stations, which are placed in certain locations.

A Team Need for Speed BMW Z4 GT3 can be unlocked in the game so long as the player has played Shift 2 Unleashed, Hot Pursuit (2010), World or Undercover.[21]


Need for Speed: The Run's producer - Alex Grimbley denied that Need for Speed: The Run would feature any form of vehicle customisation[22]. This statement was retracted after some trailers and screenshots of the game featured visually modified vehicles.

A Gamespot trailer released on November 2nd, 2011 features official confirmation that body kits and selectable body paints can be placed on vehicles.[23]

In Need for Speed: The Run, players can equip body kits on to their vehicles and also paint the vehicles. There are cosmetic body kits known as Style Pack kits and Aero Pack kits. Visual customisation can be performed in gas stations and in the View Cars mode.

Limited Edition

The Limited Edition release of Need for Speed: The Run features three exclusive vehicles; the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (2010) and the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S (991).

Players can also unlock access to five additional Challenge Series events that have been designed for the exclusive three Limited Edition vehicles.

Challenge Series Bonuses

Pre-orders for Need for Speed: The Run came with special bonuses although these differ by retailer and edition ordered. The pre-order bonuses were only available for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases of Need for Speed: The Run.

The Underground and Most Wanted Challenge Series can be obtained through pre-order at different participating retailers. The Carbon Challenge Series can only be obtained through pre-ordering the title on EA's Origin Store.

Each Exclusive Challenge Series also include three new race events.

Underground Series

Most Wanted Series

Carbon Series

Downloadable Content

Supercar Pack

Time Savers Pack

The "Time Savers Pack" was released alongside the launch of the title. The pack allows players of Need for Speed: The Run to instantly unlock all vehicles in the game as well as profile icons, backgrounds and badges.

It costs 800 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 or $9.99 on the PlayStation 3.

Dr. Pepper Prizes

Old Spice 'Smell Faster' Pack

Signature Edition Booster Pack

The Italian Pack

Heroes and Villains Pack


The Nintendo Wii and 3DS release of Need for Speed: The Run features remixed versions of soundtracks from the previous games unlike the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC releases.


The PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases of Need for Speed: The Run are rated 16+ (PEGI), PG (ACB) and T (ESRB). The Wii and 3DS releases are rated as 7+ (PEGI), E10+ (ESRB) and G (ACB).

Patch History


Overall, the game has received mixed reviews but also gained critical acclaim.

IGN reviewer Jack DeVries already had finished the Xbox 360 release of Need for Speed: The Run on November 11, 2011. He rated it as a fairly good game with mixed results. A full review was be published on November 14.[24] In the full review, the game received a rating of 6.5, as the storyline was described as "unnecessary and frustating", and the game for lacking options and being short.[25][26]

Eurogamer gave the game a rating of 5 out of 10. The reviewer, Tom Bramwell, described Need for Speed: the Run as a "fractured, painful slog, with its short, sharp races doing little justice to the concept".[27] Joystiq gave Need for Speed: The Run three out of five stars. The game was said to be not the worst Need for Speed, but rather being not able to meet critical acclaim seen by other racing games from 2010.[28]

Gametrailers however rated the Need for Speed: The Run with 8.4, praising the environment and soundtrack.[29] Dave Gamble from Gaming Nexus rated the game with A-, also praising the setting of Need for Speed: The Run. Gamesradar scored 8 out of 10. The driving model was described as being "satisfying" and the race events being "balanced and well-paced".[30]


The pre-release of Need for Speed: The Run was nominated as one of the best E3 racing games by many websites such as IGN, Machinma and Game Critics Award. Need for Speed: The Run was also declared the Best Racing Game of E3 by, Game Chronicles and Gaming Excellence.[31] The post-release was nominated by Spike TV VGA as Best Driving Game.[32]


Worldwide over 220,000 copies of Need for Speed: The Run for the PlayStation 3 were sold during the first week after its official release.[33] In the UK Top 40, The Run is ranked at position 11.[34]



At it was possible to pick one out of three songs to be featured in the final soundtrack of the game. It was feasible to choose between 'Mama Taught Me Better' by Black Motor Cycle Club, 'Solar' by MonstrO and 'Tropical Depression' by The Night Marchers. This contest was supported by Hewlett-Packard and Vagrant Records and concluded on September 6, 2011.[35]

Collaboration with Sports Illustrated

Two Sports Illustrated models, Chrissy Teigen and Irina Shayk, appear in The Run as part of a promotional partnership. Players can encounter advertisements for Sports Illustrated, too.

A bundle was released containing a six-month “All Access” subscription to Sports Illustrated, a copy of the game for PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 and a Making of DVD starring the two swimsuit models for $49.95.[36][37][38]

Collaboration with Adidas


Adidas and Electronic Arts collaborated to manufacture 100 pairs of limited edition Adidas Original Need for Speed Top X shoes. The protagonist of the game also appears to wear a pair of these shoes.

On October 10, 2011, the first 50 pairs were brought to the Adidas store in Chicago. There was also a special event held by DJ Neil Armstrong and Kids These Days. The initial ten purchasers of the product were be invited to exclusive kick-off events at the stores after a few days.

The remaining 50 pairs were delivered to the San Francisco store on October 27, where the same event took place. The first twenty buyers received a ticket to another exclusive event at the store on October 27 headlined by Mick Boogie. A celebration was held in New York on the release date of the game.[39]

Michael Bay Trailer

A promotional campaign revolving around a special trailer created by movie director Michael Bay began on November 2, 2011. The special Need for Speed: The Run trailer was unlocked for viewing after unlocking it received 250,000 points. Liking the trailer through Facebook added two points whereas five points were added for sharing the video on Facebook.[40][41]

System Requirements

Component Minimum Requirements Recommended Requirements
OS Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) 32 bit Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) 64 bit
CPU 3.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Equivalent
GPU AMD Radeon 4870 (512MB VRAM)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT (512MB VRAM)
AMD Radeon 6950 (1024MB VRAM)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX560 (1024MB VRAM)
DirectX DirectX 10 DirectX 11
Sound Card DirectX Compatible
Peripherals Gamepad, Keyboard or Steering Wheel
Internet 512 Kbps or faster




Downloadable Content

Insider Series