EA have been doing some strange things with the Need for Speed series lately. Many gamers associated the title with fast-paced, arcade racer gameplay, which naturally left a lot of them puzzled when the developers decided to move towards a more realistic style of play, pushing the arcade mechanics to the back.
It seems that not all hope is lost though – at least for Nintendo owners – as the newest Need for Speed goes back to the franchise's roots, delivering a thrilling arcade experience that is anything but realistic.
The game scraps all of the changes that have been brought about by the latest installments in the series (at least the changes in relation to realism), and feels more like Need for Speed 2/3/4 than any of the more recent titles. Handling the cars is very easy and smooth, and you'll be able to plow the streets at high speeds without having to worry about that super-realistic impact that awaits you if you miss the next turn – just hit the “reset” button and you'll be back in the race.
As the name implies, the famous Nitro plays a major elements in this NFS's gameplay, and using it feels very similar to the first NFS game that introduced it, Underground. Cops are back and are nastier than ever, and they'll do their best to knock you out of the lead and get you arrested.
Your car can get damaged from all the ramming by the cop cars, though several types of powerups scattered around the tracks will help you by giving you on-the-fly repairs. The “Style” meter is back, and if you want to complete a race with a higher style rating, you'll have to show your best drifting skills when taking those tight turns.
Graphics and System Requirements
Not only does NFS: Nitro look fresh and reminiscent of the earlier NFS titles, it also has several changes to its art style that make it even more original. First, you'll notice the game uses a sort of cartoonish look, with the cars looking more like out of an animation than a video game with realistic graphics. All of the visual effects are in accordance with the art style as well, such as the light trails, smoke stacks and debris that fly around when cars hit each other.
One new feature you're absolutely going to love is called “Own It” – it's basically the game's way of keeping everyone informed of who the current leader is. Before starting a race, you can pick your own color, as well as visual style (represented by different types of graffitti, etc).
While you're racing, as soon as you take the lead, the entire level instantly transforms to display your color – all of the surrounding assets become painted in it, the graffitti around the walls change to your own, etc. This also adds to a special type of score, and the longer you stay in the lead for a single race, the higher you'll score in the end.
The only thing we could possibly comment negatively on is the game's availability – sadly, only Nintendo players will get to enjoy this return to the game's arcade roots, and PC/Xbox/PS3 owners will have to keep hoping that EA will release a game of similar style for their platforms in the foreseeable future.
A great racing experience, NFS: Nitro takes the best parts of the earliest Need for Speed games and gives them a fresh new look.