Need for Speed Undercover [iphone/ipad]

Need for Speed Undercover

Need for Speed Undercover

Need for Speed Undercover

Need for Speed Undercover roars into the App Store much later than Electronic Arts originally hoped, and does so in the wake of I-play’s flashy Fast & Furious game. Based on the console game of the same name — and part of an epic franchise — Need for Speed Undercover is easily one of the best-looking racers on the iPhone and comes factory standard with some very exciting race events. But the game is held back by some truly awful, over-the-top elements like the grating soundtrack, cheesy to the point of painful cinema scenes, and a strange lack of control calibration.

You are an undercover cop that must slip into the underground racing scene of the Tri-City Bay Area and break up a smuggling ring. The story is told through a series of full-motion video cinema scenes full of ridiculous acting — and not the fun kind of over-acting, like the scenes from Need for Speed Most Wanted. In order to advance up the ranks of the underworld, you must win a series of events across the three neighborhoods. The events span straight-up races, cop chases, escape runs, and vehicle deliveries. The variety of events, each with different metrics for winning that truly affect how you race, are a very welcome touch. Although the events repeat themselves across the 24 stages, they are nicely spaced so you never do the same thing over and over again unless you purposefully replay prior events.

Need for Speed Undercover controls fairly well with its combination of tilt and touch. As your car auto-accelerates, you steer with tilt. You need a few practice runs to get the sensitivities of the game down because there is no way to recalibrate the controls to your liking. This is an unfortunate thing to overlook, especially in the context of drift. To start a drift, you must “twitch” your iPhone one way or the other to start the slide. Very often, this would just not register. You really have to jerk your iPhone to make it work sometimes, and if it does not, you end up steering into a wall or oncoming traffic. Eventually, I tried to just drift as little as possible, which is too bad because drifting during a race event helps you bank extra cash.

Each of the 3 city areas has a unique look.

To brake, you just tap the screen with a finger. To hit the nitrous, you swipe one finger up. I liked this more than an on-screen button, as it reduces the on-screen clutter. To engage the speedbreaker, you pull your finger down the screen. This slows the game into bullet time, giving you a few seconds to think fast while the world around you slows down. I didn’t use this feature very much, really. It’s not well-integrated into the game.

Need for Speed Undercover

 

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