Oh Where Art Thou Racing Replays Gone!?

Once upon a time top down racing games were what anyone knew or loved from them. You simply played races, won and moved on or retry had you lost. However as time went on and our racing games technologically evolved, a feature called “Replays” started to exist in them. While we all know the meaning of it, by definition Replays are a showing again of a sequence of action or recording to be played again. What was the meaning of such thing, well back in the day it was to merely see how you played out during the race or catch a funny moment. As games graphically got better, they became a way to showcase, highlight, or see crazy moments that one had during said race.

While watching a races replay was fun and simple it did reach a point where it was overhauled as a full fledge feature within a game. They became cinematic like watching an action film or able to save and share amongst the games community. So anyone would figure that something like this would never go out of style right? Well over the past couple of years replays have started disappearing from racing games and we’re not entirely sure why. It would seem that on a developers side it has become a mere element from past games and is not really something they should focus on. They think to us it is not a big deal but what they don’t understand is that it is and we want it back!

The good old days

The Need for Speed series is a beloved racing franchise with some of the best racing games to ever hit consoles and pc. Since the days of Need for Speed 1 that was released in 1996-1997 on the PC, Playstation 1 and Sega Saturn the game had always had one key component, a replay function during the end of a race. What better way to watch cops chasing you and some slick cars then in a replay? Four NFS games were released after that all with a more robust version of a replay mode and the best one being Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 for the Playstation 2 developed by Black Box. The six game was the first not to include a replay which was Need for Speed Underground, why the sudden change? While you might think this was maybe a mere hiccup, it wasn’t. NFS Underground 2 did have replays but it was soon to be the new standard that all NFS games in the next generation platforms were to not include replays. NFS Most Wanted, Carbon, Pro Street and Undercover are all next generation games missing last generation components?

Need for Speed Shift was the first game in four years and four games later to bring back the replay function and even then seemed tucked away. This year Need for Speed brought it back to its roots, what gamers wanted most from the serious. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was what we were all waiting for, or so we thought. Aside the fact that at its bare has some key features that the old Hot Pursuits had, its missing plenty but most importantly its missing replays. A Hot Pursuit tradition at this point but without mention it is just not in the game. Why are replays being fazed out and put on the back burner? Racing games from Playstation to Dreamcast to Xbox have all had games with replays on it so why at a time where replays could look better then ever are they simply disappearing? Here are a couple of reasons why this might be happening.

In an economic change that we have been under the past couple of years, development time is very important. Not only that but is also expensive and I won’t pull the wool over my eyes as I understand that not everything can be fit onto one game. Developers start to way in what they can and can’t put in over the time constraint of what they’re given. This may not always be the case though as it may also be due to the game and platforms limitation. In an interview with Split/Second creators BlackRock Studio when asked why there was no inclusion of a replay mode after a race they reply’d, there were many moving structures by way of explosions and other factors. Replays took to many resources from the game and the console can’t process it. In other words our consoles are alot more limited then we can imagine? As developers engines get better, there having limitations in other aspects which affect replay. I find this very hard to believe as this really has to due with the lack of engine optimization to take advantage of a full on replay with consoles and pc’s.

Where are our replays!

Whatever the case maybe it definitely something. Project Gotham Racing creators Bizarre Creations were known for having a cinematic style replay system in there games, hell you could even race online and save them which they started. Their newly developed racer Blur however had no inclusion whatsoever of a replay and while I don’t want to claim had a little to do with the games somewhat flop, I can tell you that fans of the racing game genre are speaking up.

In an age where not only is it not wise to remove any features from a past game unless it was a total bust, there are so many benefits to having these features in. Youtube, Facebook and other sharing medias have taken over the internet and with so many ways of bringing that content to life online, not having something as minimal as replays in them is just foolish. Criterion Games also followed a similar pattern by having replays in burnout 1 and 2 but their standout was Burnout revenge on the Xbox 360. They included not only a replay mode but a way to cut clips of it and share them to be rated and viewed amongst the Burnout Revenge community. To bad that was the last time any sort of replay function was in Criterion’ racing games as Burnout Takedown and Paradise did not receive the same love. Paradise went as far as to remove other fun features that were in Revenge.

We also live in a time where DLC (downloadable content) is all the rise. If something is broken, new content releases or features need to be added then it just comes out as DLC to be updated in the game. So why have we never received a replay mode on a game via DLC that didn’t have it?

Look I’m all for having the best gaming experience I can and if one feature had to be removed to take place of another I understand that. This doesn’t mean that you cut things that are a no brainer to begin with. There are gamers out there that are completely satisfied from what something like the new Need for Speed hot Pursuit game brings to them but if they think realistically, then we are getting fewer features and additions to games now then we did in the past. Play as Cops or Racers, compete in time trials and race in two game modes online (head to head is not a real mode) … thats all you get in the new Hot Pursuit. No Knockout races, speed gate racing, check points, an insulting photo mode and a useless open world (unlike Test Drive Unlimited).

For developers who think this isn’t a big deal, it is. For developers of racing games who think that we don’t care that much, try telling that to the developers at Bungie , Capcom or Treyarch who have put a replay theater system in there games and have benefited from it. If they also think it is not important then why do all commercials and trailers from racing games with ingame footage are from a built in replay mode? Because they look cool as hell! So please bring back our replays because we want them back. If it takes 5-10% more of development then so be it because they are well worth it. You don’t give gamers what they want, even if they don’t come out and say it, sooner or later they’ll show you how they feel. For developers who think they can keep brushing it off, well alot of gamers including myself will spend our hard earned cash on games with features that deserve to be their.

No Objection here?


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Remy Cuesta
Remy Cuesta
[Editor-in-Chief] Co-founder of LVLONE I work to bring you our readers a fun outlet to read tech and gaming news, reviews and experiences.


  1. Not once did think they didn’t include replays in these games because they can’t handle it, makes sense since GT 5 and Forza only show replays at 30fps while the games at 60.

    Still sucks to here and whats next they’ll remove other features with next gen consoles??

  2. I always watch my replays from Halo Reach and Street Fighter 4, let’s me see things I would have never known about.

  3. i so miss replays in the NFS series, other racing games have it, like midnight club, etc…if they dont bring it back im not buying them anymore!!

  4. dirtyl:

    i so miss replays in the NFS series, other racing games have it, like midnight club, etc…I don’t buy them anymore. I stick to NFS4 and 5. Burnout without replay.. that sucks..didn’t buy that one either. Look at the replays in TocaRaceDriver2 and 3, thats how it should be done, and yeah I’ve bought them. You can save them and change views.. and thats the point. You can’t look around while you’r trying to win a race, and photomode is bullshit. A pause in the middle of the race.. and it’s impossible to get the right moment, because it’s already behind you in time. Problem is f.eks EA now thinks consoles are the best thing, and that sucks, and they just lack the ability to make quality racing games nowdays. Generals and Generals ZH got reaplays. Most quality games got it. GTA4 also have som kind of replay, but only for a short period of time. Driver1 and 3 got nice replay functions.
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  5. So, if I understand you correctly, the devs are taking replays out of games because of graphical/time constraints, yes? If that’s the actual answer they’re giving us, I call BULLSHIT. First off, the majority of games released these days are RUSHED to meet some holiday or something, and suffer in quality because of it.

    The latest NFS game being a PRIME example of this. I shelled out SIXTY freakin’ bucks for this game, and I expected that the game would actually be WORTH that price. Silly me. Without going into all the options that should have been there that aren’t, even with the new DLC this game looks and feels unfinished, as pretty as it is.

    But back on the original topic of replays, there are PLENTY of contemporary games that DO have replays–Crashday, an indie demolition-derby thriller from ’05 (around the Most Wanted and Carbon era) has replays, and Trackmania, another indie series that, when maxed out, has the quality level of any contemporary game out there–not only has replays, but a full-on customizable replay STUDIO, wherein you can set camera angles from anywhere within the race environments–add effects, and anything else you might want to do. So if the devs are saying they can’t, it’s just because they WON’T. Thumbs down to EA because of this debacle, and to Criterion for jumping on the bandwagon!

  6. Yes.. well said!

    I notice this a lot now in racing games. These days I check to see if they have a replay option first as it is a feature I love. If they don’t.. I don’t buy them.

  7. I will say no replays are all a ton of horse crap !! there is no such thing as cutting corners with the tech these days you can do almost anything, I keep seeing small passionate game companies like slightly mad studios ( savior to nfs series ) ——–>> the big studios dont give a rats ass as long as they are making a good enough ROI its on to the next crap title, its become like a fast food chain for them. I’m not surprised as I can count on my 10 fingers the games that I’ve played and the developer teams that deserve respect.

  8. The reason why there is no more replays in racing games is the same dam reason there trying to kill motorsports all together. Now the EA owns everything they set the rules. If it doesnt have a instant repay system like in the Grand Turismo series I am not buying, and thats just what they want us to do. Get fustrated and not buy the racing games. Come on looks at Forza latest racing game Horizon, the replays cameras suck ass. NFS series has become a joke. But Im sure when there sales go in the shitter, they will add the replay feature once again. Its like there holding the cards to gaming greatness, screw them!!! Just like when in racing game the 3rd person view, the dam camera is always locked onto the back of the car, unlike Sega Rally of 1991(look it up) or xbox360 downloadable game called Jeremy Mcgraph off road is a great game even though there is no replays but the driving reminds me of Sega Rally. Sorry the speeling suck, its the message that counts..

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