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Need For Speed: Nitro Review

EA puts the fun back into its long-running racing series

If you look back through our reviews of previous Need For Speed games on the Wii, it makes for grim reading. 59% for Carbon, 66% for ProStreet and (most recently) 39% for Undercover should suggest that when it comes to EA's racing series, the Wii is always neglected in favour of other systems. EA is attempting to make amends for this with Need For Speed: Nitro, the first game in the series designed with the Wii in mind, and the difference in quality is clear. This one's actually really good.

Nitro is a much-needed return to basics, offering simple street racing with very little messing about. It reminds us of the great Need For Speed: Underground that was popular on the PS2 back in 2003 before the series got obsessed with odd gimmicks and cinematic storylines. Instead of messing around with canyons and all that rubbish as in recent NFS games, here you've got a much more familiar choice of race types.

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Wheelie Good Fun

There's the classic Street Race, where you have to try and finish first over a number of laps. Then there's Elimination, where the last-placed racer is knocked out of the race after certain intervals. Drag racing is all about changing gears at the right time while you avoid traffic, while Drift races see you scoring as many points as possible by skidding your car round corners. Time Attack is self-explanatory, and the Speed Traps races have you passing set points on the track at as high a speed as possible. The better you do in each race the more stars you collect, and as you get more stars you unlock new races in different locations. You also earn money that can be used to buy new cars, which you can then customise from bumper to bumper. And that's more or less all there is to it.

Although everything's a lot more straightforward than it has been for a while, Nitro still has a gimmick or two. The most obvious of these - even though it's been done countless times in racing games - is the ability to use nitro boosts, hence the game's name. These see you building up your nitro meter by performing drifts and the like, then shaking the Remote to activate the boost. There's a nice sense of speed when this happens, but it's not really anything we haven't seen in a hundred other racing games before.

Nurburgbling

Another major aspect of Nitro is its graphical style. Much like EA's other big franchises such as FIFA and Madden, Nitro gives Need For Speed a more cartoony look, which may sound bad but actually gives the game a sense of character and makes it more enjoyable. Each of the game's different countries has a unique look and feel to it, and is introduced by a short movie showing the most notorious racer in that region. For want of a better word, it's just fun.

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Also impressive is the extensive customisation options, which allow you to colour and paint on all of your cars. You can also choose a special icon to represent your car, which can not only be stamped on your car but also comes into play throughout the various game modes. As you start to perform well in a race, your icon and team colours will be 'tagged' on various parts of the surrounding environment, showing the other racers that you 'own' the track.

Need For Speed: Nitro doesn't do anything remarkable. It doesn't have a fancy gimmick that no other game has featured before, it doesn't have the sort of visuals that will blow you away, and it doesn't offer outstanding online multiplayer gameplay that will have you playing for years to come. It's simply fun to play, and in focusing on quality over quantity EA has managed to put together one of the best racing games on the Wii. Hopefully the developers can now build on this great framework and add a bit more meat for the inevitable next game in the series. For now, this is a huge improvement and more than makes up for the shameful, half-hearted efforts that have tainted the Wii over the past few years. Well played, EA.

Comments

18 comments so far...
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  1. thecoop Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 12:37

    Excellent! I was not expecting that! Been waiting for a great fun, arcade style experience like you got from SEGA in the days of the Saturn. Consider one copy sold.

  2. Lost Cause Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 12:38

    Looks a bit... wierd...

    I'm not sure cars are supposed have badges that big on them though...

  3. NintendoWiiNath Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 13:00

    Haha Wow! 80%? thats great i could do with another racer, all i have is Mario Kart and Exite Truck, I usually resort to playing my old cube games for racers maybe i should get this!

  4. metroid fan Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 15:19

    finally a racing game other than mario kart for me to pick up.

    I'm not really into the realistic racing games which makes this game perfect for me :D

  5. emperor ing Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 15:54

    So an actaully good NFS this time round? I don't believe it! Still, I won't get this. I now find the street racing genre to be over used and boring. I now prefer games that focus on real simulation such as RaceOn, rFactor, or Forrza.

  6. Nintendo Boy Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 16:44

    I will not be getting this; Too arcadey for my liking...

    ... and 80%?

    Seriously?

  7. ShadowofPain Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 17:47

    Thank you ONM you've made my day even better :D :D :D A great review!!

  8. ProMac Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 18:06

    ONM. YOU ARE TIGHT,NINTY KISS-UPS. YOU KNOW THAT? Nitro delivered, It's ace, It brought justice to Wii's racing section and is graphically beautiful. And you sods give it 80%. A first party game is always Gold Award. And don't start on MARIO PARTY 8. That's a cheap party spin-off game. MK Wii is a mad dash for the finish line,but still is enjoyable but it's the brand that brought it to Gold. Okami got 95% just because it was like Zelda, Nitro was simple to make things easier for casual gamers, normally you'd look into this. I'm buying a copy and never buying your mag again, it's dropped in quality too much and is trying to cover this with world exclusives. Guess what? It failed. Now re-play this game and give it the score it deserves. Watch, F1 2009 WILL score more than Nitro, soley for the F1 brand.

  9. NEO.BAHAMUT Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 19:22

    Does it support Classic Controller? If not the I'm not interested. I can't be bothered with that Wii Wheel joke.

  10. MARION64WII Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 20:20

    ummm im sorry for fans but this does not look like a good game :( , the only racer for me is Mario kart WII :wink:

  11. ChrisONM Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 21:37

    Does it support Classic Controller? If not the I'm not interested. I can't be bothered with that Wii Wheel joke.


    Yup, does indeed.

  12. Random-Hero Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 22:09

    It looks cute and fun, however this is one of them ideal moments for a PS3/360 Fanboy to enter and claim that its kiddy due to Nintendo marketing and limited graphics abilty...

    Ahh well, Racing games bore me with passion.

  13. NEO.BAHAMUT Thursday 5th Nov 2009 at 22:30

    Does it support Classic Controller? If not the I'm not interested. I can't be bothered with that Wii Wheel joke.


    Yup, does indeed.

    Thank you, Chris. :)

  14. NintendoWiiNath Friday 6th Nov 2009 at 00:56

    ONM. YOU ARE TIGHT,NINTY KISS-UPS. YOU KNOW THAT? Nitro delivered, It's ace, It brought justice to Wii's racing section and is graphically beautiful. And you sods give it 80%. A first party game is always Gold Award. And don't start on MARIO PARTY 8. That's a cheap party spin-off game. MK Wii is a mad dash for the finish line,but still is enjoyable but it's the brand that brought it to Gold. Okami got 95% just because it was like Zelda, Nitro was simple to make things easier for casual gamers, normally you'd look into this. I'm buying a copy and never buying your mag again, it's dropped in quality too much and is trying to cover this with world exclusives. Guess what? It failed. Now re-play this game and give it the score it deserves. Watch, F1 2009 WILL score more than Nitro, soley for the F1 brand.

    Wow! what a rant lol

  15. ultra_slb Friday 6th Nov 2009 at 09:59

    FINALLY!!! a good racer!!!

    IGN gave it a 8/10, and the average of the reviews is on 7,5-8, so I guess we are looking at a really decent racer for once!!

    Let's see F1, just annoys me the fact that it's 2009, Toyota left the F1 already, pilots changed teams, they could wait 2 or 3 months and update it to 2010 -.-

  16. nintendo_munki Friday 6th Nov 2009 at 20:04

    ONM. YOU ARE TIGHT,NINTY KISS-UPS. YOU KNOW THAT? Nitro delivered, It's ace, It brought justice to Wii's racing section and is graphically beautiful. And you sods give it 80%. A first party game is always Gold Award. And don't start on MARIO PARTY 8. That's a cheap party spin-off game. MK Wii is a mad dash for the finish line,but still is enjoyable but it's the brand that brought it to Gold. Okami got 95% just because it was like Zelda, Nitro was simple to make things easier for casual gamers, normally you'd look into this. I'm buying a copy and never buying your mag again, it's dropped in quality too much and is trying to cover this with world exclusives. Guess what? It failed. Now re-play this game and give it the score it deserves. Watch, F1 2009 WILL score more than Nitro, soley for the F1 brand.

    oh my dear god.
    are you serious?
    i think that is what is called an ott rant.
    calm down dude.
    80% is a good score.
    its a basic racer without any innovations.
    just good fun.
    seriously, that is far too ott.

  17. LiamGodOfFood Saturday 7th Nov 2009 at 22:39

    I wanted cop pursuits...
    They were my main reason for buying the game, they were hilarious...

  18. justbrett Monday 23rd Nov 2009 at 21:35

    Glad to finally see a Need For Speed on Wii that feels like it was actually developed for Wii. While I'm not sure how much replay value this will have for me long-term, in the short-term it's providing some great, thrill-a-minute fun. Also, props to EA for a great soundtrack, especially for the inclusion of Earl Greyhound's "Oye Vaya" - it's the ultimate driving song.

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