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Software Review: Need For Speed Undercover

Need For Speed is one of the most recognizable game titles ever. As the quintessential racing game, Need For Speed games offer a number of different racing styles and game types. I personally cut my teeth on Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Porsche Unleashed, and Underground; all of which offered very different game-play styles, car options, and race types. Additionally, as one of the most recognized names in the Xbox Live category in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace; Need For Speed Undercover is one of the games that Microsoft is using to showcase Windows Phone and Xbox Live as a mobile gaming platform (see Dan’s post on how Microsoft is chipping away at Apple’s exclusivity).

You’ve already seen the first look at Need For Speed, let’s get into the details of what makes this one of the more complete games in the Xbox Live arsenal.

Graphics

At first blush I wasn’t terribly impressed with the graphics that Need For Speed Undercover had to offer; but as I started to look around more, the world seemed more clean to me. The textures on the road and surrounding surfaces aren’t particularly crisp, but they’re flying by at over 100mph (virtually). The real beauty is in the sky and cityscapes that are borderline photorealistic. My favorite tracks are in the later stages when the wet or icy roads being to reflect the lights and clouds, making the view picturesque.

Controls

The controls within Need For Speed Undercover are quite simply: perfect. Steering your car is as simple as tilting your phone side to side. You can gain an extra boost in speed (providing you haven’t used all your NOS) by simply swiping up on the screen. Your brakes are applied by pressing your finger to the screen. Pausing the game is accomplished by dragging two fingers down the screen (drawing a pause symbol). As I said, perfect.

Customizability

The customizability of Need For Speed games is their greatest strength. No less than 20 cars can be purchased and tweaked to your heart’s desire. Everything from the Mitsubishi Lancer EVOLUTION, to the classic ’67 Mustang, and the exotic Lamborghini Gallardo are available options. Need For Speed also gives the user the ability to modify both the performance and aesthetics of your cars, and different cars are better suited for different types of races.

Story/Scope

I’m not a huge fan of the stories in games like this, most of the time I want to actually play the game instead of watching the cinematics. The good news is that the story portions of the game are high quality (the cinematics include appearances by characters portrayed by Maggie Q and others), but they don’t get in the way.

Need For Speed Undercover encompasses 4 separate areas. The first three areas offer your standard high speed racing fare, as well as some gameplay modes in which you are attempting to establish street cred by hitting as many objects as you can or destroying police cars that may get in your way. The fourth area is only unlocked after the story mode is completed, and solely focuses on “drifting”, which is essentially driving your car sideways without crashing.

Conclusion

The best part about Need For Speed Undercover is the fact that the game is still fun to play even after you’ve completed the story and unlocked all of the cars. The sheer depth that this game has to offer surpasses anything that we Windows Mobile faithful are familiar with. The customizability of the cars and the variety of racing types makes Need For Speed Undercover easily one of the top games on Windows Phone 7.

Pros: 
Intense graphics, high level of customizations, intuitive controls
Cons: 
Slightly expensive
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