Need For Speed Undercover in Review – Living the Life of a Criminal with a Badge

Having my life’s story turned into a Major Motion Picture Franchise about the world of street racing, that series being The Fast & The Furious, and having aspects of my life played by both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, gives me greater insight into how a racing experience should feel when its brought to the small screen of your iDevice.

Now with the above being true (false) I do enjoy a good racing experience when it’s delivered to my gaming platform of choice. For instance, I absolutely loved NFS: Undercover’s big brother NFS: Most Wanted and their cousin Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360. With that in mind, I asked myself, is it possible to bring such an amazing console experience to my Apple handheld?

Need For Speed Undercover by developer Electronic Arts gives you the opportunity to take on the role of an officer deep undercover in the illegal street racing scene while attempting to take down a crime syndicate. Your point of contact throughout the game is Chase Linh, portrayed by actress Maggie Q in full motion cinematics and talking photos. As you progress through the stories 24 missions you’ll have an opportunity to get behind the wheel of some of the sweetest vehicles ever built including the Pagani Zonda F and the Ford GT. After you’ve improved the vehicles performance in such areas as top speed and handling plus tweaked the visual appearance with a new coat of paint and a fresh set of tires, you’re ready to take to the street in 8 different racing modes like Lap KO, Hot Car, Sprint and everyone’s (mine) favorite Cop-Takeout.

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Where a racing game is made or broken is in the controls and Need For Speed Undercover nails them perfectly. Using the accelerometer to navigate the streets at ever increasing speeds you’ll have to maneuver through traffic, avoid slow down caused by riding the shoulder, and find the sweet spots to flip the switch on the NOS or activate your speed breaker. The cars accelerate automatically, touch the screen to break, swipe your finger from top to bottom to initiate speed breaker and bottom to top for NOS. In each race you also have the opportunity to gain style points. Avoid a near miss or nudge another vehicle and coming in first place are a couple of the ways to earn these points which can be turned into cash for improving your vehicle and unlocking some of the more exotic cars in the game.

The game’s look is one of the more impressive examples of what can be done on your iDevice. The car models look like their real world counterparts. The locations vary from neighborhoods, tunnels and city streets giving you an immersive feel. The one complaint is the lack of visible damage to your vehicle. When you’re driving at 150 miles an hour and collide face to face with another vehicle, you would expect to see some obvious changes to the cars structure. Of course the game features real world licensed vehicles and auto makers don’t want consumers to see their vehicles destroyed in a game, so it’s something we racing fans have to live with if we want to get behind the wheel of today’s hottest cars.

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The sounds of Undercover help draw you into the experience. Whether you’re sliding around a tight corner, slamming down on the breaks to avoid an accident, kicking in the NOS to power through to the finish line or rolling your car multiple times after a collision, you feel as though you’re living the experience. The games soundtrack includes a number of songs to fit in with the high speed action taking place on the screen.

Need For Speed Undercover was announced months ago and fans of the game have been foaming at the mouth with anticipation for its arrival to the market place. That extended wait has paid off for fans of the NFS franchise and racing games in general. The controls are fluid and precise; you’ll never lose a challenge because the vehicle failed to perform the actions you requested of it. The visuals are arguably the best of any racing game currently available in the app store and the sound quality will have you feeling as though you’re living the life of an undercover agent (as I have).

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Besides the lack of a damage model there are a couple of items to point out. Occasionally you will experience slow down. It seems to occur at top speeds and only lasts for a moment. Everything is slowed down in the game and there for doesn’t affect the outcome of your play experience. The games last few missions require you to have excellent control of your driving skills. One crash or a couple of wide turns resulting in slow down on the shoulders can be enough to cost you a race. If you haven’t attempted to gain additional funds through the style points feature in each race and are unable to upgrade your vehicle to the best of its performance ability, you will have to go back through previous missions to win one-quarter the original cash reward and attempt to gain additional style points money. In other words, you’ll need the extra dough to upgrade your vehicle of choice and give yourself the best chance of winning or face the possibility of repeated run-throughs of the same race attempting to come out victorious, resulting in the player becoming frustrated.

If you’ve been looking for the next great racing experience for your iDevice, your search is over. Need For Speed Undercover has arrived and delivers on its promise of quality gameplay and excellent presentation. Frustration can occur in late levels, but with additional time and effort, it can be overcome to get you across the finish line first.

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App Summary
Title:Need For Speed Undercover (v.1.1.28)Developer:Electronic Arts
Price:$9.99App Size:92.3 MB
  • Accelerometer controls give you precise handling of your vehicle.
  • Games visuals are an impressive example of what can be done on the idevice.
  • Sound quality will have you believe you’re living the life of an undercover agent.
  • No vehicle damage model.
  • Occassional slow down
  • Difficulty in later levels can result in multiple play throughs of previous levels to earn money for vehicle upgrades.

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