Forum Review: Need For Speed Undercover 73
We're still roaming the show floor, hunting down what webOS news we can find - meanwhile our forums are afire with talk of the new 3D apps. This app review is brought to you by forum member FiXXXerX.
So here we are, hours after the CES Press conference with a series of new apps that have been released by some fairly high profile companies, a first for WebOS and a much needed boost to the App Catalog. Today I will be reviewing Need For Speed - Undercover. In case you've been living under a rock that has been hidden in a cave for the past decade you most likely know what Need For Speed is, however, for those of you that have only recently emerged I'll give you an overview of what your looking at here. The Need For Speed (Or NFS for short) franchise from Electronic Arts is all about taking a stock production car and personalizing it per your taste and then driving it... fast. This personalization includes performance tweaks and visual modifications and then going out and establishing yourself as a dominant racer in a number of different scenarios. The game we're looking at today has you going Undercover (As the title suggests) and racing against all sorts of nasty-for-no-reason thugs who apparently spend a majority of their time street racing... in fact, just imagine Fast and The Furious with less plot and your in the right zone, so lets get into it...
Being a game designed for a cell phone there are limitations as you might expect. However, that being said, the setup is pretty standard for racing games on touch screen devices. Hold the phone landscape style with the slider closed and tilt it to the left and right like you had an awkwardly shaped steering wheel. Now, the car automatically accelerates for you, so there isn't any way to adjust your acceleration rate. The being said, you do have some options, 1 Finger on the screen Brakes, 1 Finger swiped up initiates your Nitro Boost (NOS if we're being all Paul Walker about it), 1 finger down activates a slow-mo that allows you dodge obstacles (aka. Bullet Time). Also, tilting the phone sharply initiates a drift (Controlled Slide) around a corner. And then 2 fingers on the screen pauses your game. Simple, yet effective. It will take you a little while to master it, but in the end, it works... and that's what you want, right? In terms of actual gameplay, you race against your opponents, out run the cops and upgrade your car. The tracks you race on aren't exactly the most exciting things on the planet, but they seem to cater to the control scheme more than anything, which in the end is actually a pretty good thing. I would rather have a game that plays well then one that ends up frustrating me to no end with a shoddy control scheme and unnavigable tracks. Its a fun combo that can be addicting, I've only had a few hours with it up to this point so I can hardly call myself a master, but I doubt that there are layers of depth that I'm missing at this point. Its fun for fun's sake and sometimes, that's what matters the most.
So, wow... graphics... if you haven't been active in the homebrew community and witnessed what the WebOS Internals guys have done with Doom and Quake, then this game will quite simply melt you brain. Sure, its the first in a series of games that actually have access to the Pre's GPU, but it looks VERY impressive to be one of the first to pop up on the platform. The graphics are easily better than anything you will find on the Nintendo DS, and while they might fall slightly short of the PSP in the texture department they still look fantastic. What we are seeing here is the Pre emerging as a platform that can truly stand up and say that its a capable gaming machine, something that most of us have been waiting for for quite a while. The game has an extremely solid frame rate and I experienced no slowdowns in my play time. An impressive feat from a phone that would freeze on me while playing Topple Ball not but 3 weeks ago.
Sound is actually pretty interesting here, I was expecting basic engine rev'ing sounds and a relatively unimpressive sound scheme. And while its far from the quality of sound you'll get from a modern day console, its still something that works extremely well within the context of the game. It does have an actual music soundtrack, which doesn't appear to be customizable as of now and is largely there just for background noise as far as I'm concerned, but its still a nice touch. Other than that, engines sound like engines, tire squeal is tire squeal... again, it just works.
Well, so we come to it, the price of the game is $9.99, which is a pretty steep price of entry for a game with no demo to try out. However, with that being said, I've certainly spent more money on less. The game is a solid package and is absolutely one of the most impressive apps available in the App Store today. Its not mind blowing, and I personally think it should be priced at the $5.00 range, but I doubt that you will find yourself being very disappointed with it even at $9.99.
SO, would I buy it again? Yes... hands down it was one of the most exciting things I've been able to download from the App Catalog to date. It has the same kind of polish you would expect to find on a game that has been created by one of the earths largest gaming entities and its fun. There isn't much more to it than that.
I will add, that while we witness the birth of real, functional, innovative and beautiful apps we can look on the games that were released today and see what a difference a few months can make. More than anything this game is exciting because of the possibilities it hints at, and in the mean time, we have a pretty solid racer on our hands, and I'm very happy with that.