Electronic Arts stopped by the GameSpot offices today with the latest build of Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. The game, unofficially called Need for Speed 5, is the sequel to High Stakes, last year's iteration of the Need for Speed franchise. But while many considered High Stakes to be somewhat of a "standalone add-on" to Need for Speed III, there's no question that Porsche Unleashed is a true sequel.
As you can probably tell from its name, Porsche Unleashed's lineup of cars is composed entirely of Porsches. In fact, every Porsche from the 1948 356 roadster to the monstrous 2000 996 Turbo are available for players to drive. Even the devilishly fast 959, banned from sale in the US, is included.
And a new career mode, called Porsche Evolution, lets players track the history of Porsches across four eras. You'll be able to buy, upgrade, repair, race and, maintain as many as 80 different Porsches in this mode, which you can then turn around and sell as a collector's item during a later era. The value of that car will depend on its rarity, the mileage you put on it, and the shape it's in.
A new 3D graphics engine built from the ground up powers NFS: Porsche Unleashed. And to bring more realism to this iteration, High Stakes' car-damage characteristics have been carried over, but now they aren't just cosmetic - they really affect the way your car handles. The development team also addressed the issue of "floating cars," which plagued Need for Speed III and High Stakes. Through a new four-point physics engine, all the cars in Porsche Unleashed are actually firmly placed on the pavement, and they don't "bounce" as they did in previously released titles.
The build we saw looked nearly complete. The game's product manager says that EA still has about two months of tweaking and polishing before the game can be considered finished, however. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed is scheduled to release this March. We'll have more coverage on this racer soon.