It seems like there is no shortage of racing games as the holiday season approaches. Over the last few months, we’ve seen the release of Gran Turismo on the PSP, Forza Motorsport 3 and Need for Speed Shift on Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. And now we’ve got a new racing game for the Wii in the form of Need for Speed: Nitro.
Developer: EA Montreal
Nov. 3, 2009
Those of you who have picked up a copy of Need for Speed: Shift, you may have high hopes for NITRO. However, Shift and NITRO are two completely different experiences. Where Shift was in the vein of a racing simulator, NITRO returns to Need for Speed’s Arcade roots. You drag race through the city while trying to beat other racers and avoid the police. The more damage you do while driving, combined with your position in the race, will draw more police attention. So if you’re in first place and causing a large amount of damage to your surroundings, watch out. The challenge makes the game interesting and makes it feel like you’re racing in the Fast and the Furious (not an opinion everyone may share).
The game play is definitely designed for casual racers instead of hardcore racing fanatics, so this game will probably not appeal to racers who enjoy realistic racing. The racing itself is very cartoonish, which doesn’t take away from the game, but makes it rather endearing. You drive with acceleration and braking and also use Nitrous to speed up the car for a competitive edge. The difficulty levels are just right so that it’s not insultingly easy but not soul crushingly hard (sorry to disappoint all you masochists out there). You play in either Arcade or Career mode and use the Wii remote to drive. However, you’re not limited to using only the Wii remote — you can also use the classic controller (a personal favorite), the Wii Wheel from Mario Kart and even a Gamecube controller! That was a great relief for when I tried out multiplayer with my friends and found that all four worked on the game.
There are 30 cars that are available to use but you have the ability to customize them however you wish. The 30 cars are separated into three tiers: Supercars, Balanced Performance and Commercial vehicles. Supercars are fast racing cars while Commercial vehicles are slower but sturdier. You can paint your cars in whatever way you like in order to make it more interesting. While you can drive around, you can’t total your car. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for reckless driving. If you crash too many times, you end up losing your nitro meters, which can cost you the race.
Visually, the game is very cartoonish and animated in a way which makes it interesting to look up. Unfortunately, the game’s variety limits its potential. The game has very few levels and only 30 cars. Even if you increase the difficulty of the levels, there’s little incentive to keep playing when you know what the tracks are like. This incredibly repetitive game play is a big disappointment of a fun game to kill time with. This is surprising given the fact that the game’s simplicity would have seemed like the biggest letdown.
Blast Factor: Need for Speed: NITRO is a fun arcade racer which suffers from a very repetitive set up. The cars are interesting, as are the visuals, but that doesn’t really improve the lack of courses to race through and the fact that there are only 30 cars. This isn’t a bad game, and it is perfect for fans of casual arcade racing games but it isn’t something which would appeal to hardcore racers. If you want something silly for the kids this is definitely a game for you to pick up.
Need for Speed: Nitro is available on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, and retails for $49.99. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for review purposes.