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Jun 03, 09 at 4:45pm ^Need For Speed Undercover Review
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I haven’t played any of the other racing games out there; however, Need For Speed Undercover is one of the most impressive games I’ve seen on the iPhone/iTouch. It does justice to the genre and does a good job providing players with a solid experience. For 10 bucks, it better.
The game has some plot involving Maggie Q giving the player orders while you attempt to build up a street cred and take down criminals from the inside. There is a twist to this right at the end. In order to help progress the story, the game actually has proper video cutscenes which use the video player. But all this shouldn’t really matter. After all, who plays a racing game for the story?
The controls are fairly simple and you get accustomed to it pretty quickly. Unlike other racing games, there’s no accelerator. Instead, the car accelerates automatically (think of it as an on-rails racing game). You can steer by tilting the iPhone/iTouch either way and it’s pretty responsive. Braking is done my tapping and pressing down with one finger on any part of the screen. Nitrous can be used by swiping up on the screen with one finger. Swiping down with a finger will engage “speedbreaker” which is essentially just slow-mo. Drifting is done by tilting the phone to a greater degree and then balancing it out by turning it the other side. The drifting mechanic can take a little while getting used to. You can pause a race by swiping down with two fingers. To view a car in a free camera angle in the garage, simply tap the screen with two fingers.
There are quite a few different types of races present in the game. Here’s a complete list:
If you’re looking for standard circuit races, you’ll be disappointed to hear that there’s only a few of them. The Hot Car races are probably the most abundant.
The lineup of the cars, themselves, is pretty good. You have cars such as the Pontiac Firebird and the Volkswagen Golf GTI in the beginning until you work your way up past the mid-game cars, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Nissan 370Z, towards the uber cars, like the Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche Carrera GT, and finally the Pagani Zonda F. The car models are all well done. Unlocking them consists of two ways; either by doing a specific race or by collecting enough “style points,” which you get for doing various things in races. Each car has its own set of acceleration, top speed, handling, and nitrous stat which can be upgraded by paying the cash you win in races. Apart from performance, the cars’ aesthetics can be upgraded as well. You can customize your car by giving it a different body kit, paint job, or rims, applying decals, installing a spoiler, or lowering/raising the suspension.
As for the difficulty, the game does offer a challenge; however, it’s entirely dependent on the player. You can make it easier for yourself by purchasing a better car and upgrading it, or you can give your skills a challenge and stick with a weaker car. If you don’t have enough money to purchase a better one, you can go back and redo races to get money, though they offer a lot less after the initial run, meaning you’ll have to do them over and over to accumulate a decent amount.
The visuals of the game are on par with the DS NFS games. The graphics might not exactly be the cleanest at times, but you’re getting a fully 3D experience on the iPhone/iTouch along with video cinematics. However, unlike the DS games, you’re getting a lot less content wise (such as races, cars, and customization options) due to the smaller size of the game. But then again, it’s meant to be something you can pick up and play on the go.
The sound effects are pretty good and the game comes with a few songs, which are all rock. However, you’re given the option to play something from your own library to replace the music. Pretty much my only gripe is that the frame rate stutters when a song changes, which can really affect a race.
The game doesn’t have that much replayability once you’re done. After you finish the career mode, you unlock drift mode, where you’re given locations where you have to beat the score by drifting. Other than that there’s always trying to beat your old times for the races and getting more style points to unlock the Pagani Zonda F. nfortunately, there’s no multiplayer support or online leaderboards.
I wanted to mention that since this game pushes the iPhone/iTouch to the limit, it also eats up a lot of power. So if you’re sitting on a 6 hour flight, it might be a good idea to utilize your power properly and play the game in moderation.
I’d give the game a 9/10. It’s got its shortcomings (as mentioned above) but it’s definitely a solid experience which everybody should try, and more so if you’re into racing games and need your fix on the go.
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