They were good but not the highlight of the franchise let alone the best of the genre at the time.
My thoughts without the cursing. If true it doesn't sound like cross-gen.
But would you consider it dark? Or something like Fifa's story? People wouldn't mind a return to Most Wanted or Carbon, but "dark" is not a word most people want associated with an arcadey racing game of this sorts
Yeah and remember, one of the most beloved arcade racers ever, Ridge Racer 4, had a simple but memorable story mode. It's possible to do it right, it's just rarely a priority.
Funny thing is many upcoming and new enthusiast sports cars these days don't even let you choose manual.
Yeah, they really need to fuck off trying to put stories in these games. They're so unnecessary and I doubt many people give a shit about whether a racing game has a story or not.
I'm not sure if it was bleak enough to warrant a stamp that says 'dark', but I recall there being a few f-words in the script, some (implied) skinhead/white supremacist types beating up beating up the Afro-American protagonist in jail (where he ends up after being framed by the police). There's also some physical injuries, but I guess you could chalk that up to as being a part of the sport. I think there was also a gun or two involved in that game in some context. I liked it, thought in retrospect I think it lacked a sense of humor. I've not really touched the recent NFS games, but I think 'dark' can be fine, so long as it's not solely that.
Rivals was very much inspired by HP2010. It didn't quite reach those levels, but it was still a good amount of fun. Expanding on that while bumping up the speed and tweaking the handling so it's not as heavy would get it closer.
If they want it to sell they better not fill it with microtransactions. You want to revive your franchises? Take some inspiration from Capcom, From and the rest of companies that find succeess in the AAA space. They don't need Anthem-likes to generate profit.