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Popular racing game franchise Need for Speed has been delivering high octane racing thrills since 1994. Starting as a realistic simulation title on the ill-fated 3DO games console, it didn’t take long for realism to give way to more imaginative racing action. This second game in the franchise takes the action across outlandish tracks and locations. You will get to race such exotic cars as the Ferriari F50, the Mclaren F1 and even the one-of-a-kind Ford Indigo concept car around beaches, city streets, jungles and volcanoes. Being the first game in the series to take advantage of the then cutting-edge 3DFX 3D accelerator cards, back in 1997 the games visuals must have seemed highly impressive. It can be quite a shock how primitive the game now looks by today’s standards. Nevertheless, if you’re feeling nostalgic or simply delving into the series history there’s still a playable little racer to be enjoyed here.
To install Need for Speed 2 SE, don’t bother with the installer on the disc. Instead, create a new folder anywhere on your PC. Now, open the Need for Speed 2 SE CD-ROM in Windows Explorer or File Explorer. Copy the FEDATA and GAMEDATA folders from the CD-ROM to your newly created folder. Now, copy all the files in the root of the CD-ROM (but not the other folders) over to the folder you created on your hard drive. When you’re done, you should have a folder on your hard drive with two folders inside it (“FEDATA” and “GAMEDATA”) and 16 files. Before the game can run, however, we need to install some patches.
Rather than trying to set compatibility modes for the game yourself, the best way to get the game to work is to use the pre-made compatibility patch available here. The patch is kindly hosted by Zeus software, who also provide the nGlide wrapper software we will need in the next step. The patch is downloaded as a zip file. Open the zip file and copy all the contents into the directory you created on your hard drive during the installation process. Run the PatchInstall.bat file that should now be present in the folder. User Account Control may prompt for your administrator password and/or ask you for permission to continue several times, be sure to grant permission for the patch to install.
We’re now almost ready to hit the tarmac, there’s one more important step we need to complete before the game can run.
Restoring 3D acceleration with nGlide
Need for Speed 2 SE utilised the old 3DFX graphics cards, which used the old Glide graphics acceleration software. This is incompatible with the DirectX or OpenGL software that modern graphics cards support. Fortunately, software exists that can translate the old Glide games into something modern graphics cards can support. The software we recommend for use with this game is called nGlide. You can download nGlide here. Installing nGlide is extremely simple, just open the nGlide executable file and that’s it. There are no settings that need to be configured, though we will look at some that you might want to tinker with later in the article. Note that if you have already installed nGlide you don’t need to do it again and you can simply skip this step.
Starting the game
Start the game by clicking the “NFS2SEA.EXE” file within the directory. The game should now start without any further issues. If you see the 3DFX logo appear, the game is running with full 3D acceleration. You might want to make a short-cut to NFS2SEA to appear on your Desktop or Start Menu/Screen. If you still have problems running the game, check the troubleshooting section at the end of the article.
Tweaking visual quality
Need for Speed 2 SE is never going to be a visually stunning game now it’s over a decade and a half old. However, there’s no harm in tweaking a few settings to get the best visual quality out of this fun little racing relic. In game there are a few options you should be sure to set. From the games main menu, choose “Options” and then select “Graphics”. Here, ensure that Car Detail is set to “On”, View Distance is set to “Far” and “Horizon” is set to “On”. You should also check under Audio options and make sure that sound samples are set to 16 bit quality.
If you want to take things a little further, there’s the nGlide Configurator program. This program is installed on your PC when you install the nGlide software. Start it by searching for “Configurator” on your Start menu or Start Screen. The picture below shows the program running on a Windows 8 PC.
Most of the settings can be left as default, but you may want to change a couple of things. For Need For Speed 2 SE, you can change the Screen resolution to match your monitor, this will give you the clearest picture. Windows should have set your desktop up to match your monitors native resolution, so if you’re not sure what to choose, right click on the desktop and choose “Screen Resolution” then simply make a note of what your current display is set to.
If you decide to change the games screen resolution, you may want to use the “Aspect ratio” box to set the image to 4:3 mode. This will prevent the games graphics being stretched out of proportion. The other settings can all be left as default.
Remember that the nGlide settings you configure using this program will affect any other software on your PC that uses nGlide. If you have other games that need different settings, you will need to reconfigure the Configurator when you play them.
Troubleshooting and known issues
Problems with sound playback – If you experience problems with crackly or broken sound playback, you need to configure the game (NFS2SEA.EXE) to run with only one CPU core. For a tutorial on how to do that, visit this page.
Stuttering in game – If you configure all the above settings correctly, NFS2SE should run at around 60 frames per second. While testing the game on our Windows 7 and 8 machines however, there did seem to be the occasional stutter during play. We’re not sure if this happens when playing the game on the original hardware it was designed for or not. It’s not enough to spoil the experience, but enough for us to hold off on giving the game a perfect playability rating.