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Need for Speed: No Limits (iOS/Android) game review

Mobile racers now have a Need for Speed game to call their own in No Limits, EA’s first mobile-only title from the hit arcade racing franchise.

If you’re already into your racing games, then you might be familiar with the No Limits’ Australian developer, Firemonkeys. It’s responsible for the Real Racing series that is unquestionably more racing simulator than arcade racer, but it’s also a sign that Need for Speed: No Limits was in good hands for the beginning.

Need for Speed: No limits

Whilst the premise of No Limits is simple and to the point; compete in races throughout the streets of a fictional city called Blackridge, in actuality that translates to a whole heap of gameplay. At launch EA promises 900 race events, 100 driver levels to advance through, 10 game modes, 38 courses and 30 licensed cars, which of course you can customise with licensed body kits or other automotive accoutrements, but subsequent updates could expand that even further.

To progress through the game you need to win races and to do that you need bigger and better cars, or at the very least, car parts. The fundamental assets that grant you access to new items are cash, materials and blueprints.

Need for Speed: No limits - NfSNL car blueprints

Cash lets you purchase cars, fit new components to your current ride or improve existing car parts, but every upgrade is comprised of a few sub-components; a valve here, or an engine mount there – it’s these base level building blocks that the game categorises as ‘materials’.

The big-ticket items, such as access to new, better cars, come with blueprint collection. The more impressive the car you’re after, the more blueprints are required to have the privilege of buying said car. All of these assets can be unlocked one of two ways, through gameplay or crates – mystery boxes that can hold any number of random items, from materials to blueprints.

When it comes to the gameplay of No Limits the Firemonkeys team has done more than just shrunk down the console experience of like-minded titles from the Need for Speed catalogue, it’s tailored the experience to better suit true mobile gaming.

Races are typically shorter than some of the game’s notable rivals and the control scheme better lends itself to the small-screened experience. Tap either side of the screen to steer, swipe up to activate your nitrous for a boost of speed and swipe down to initiate a drift. This all might sound like it takes away from the fun, but it in truth enhances it.

The game’s visuals are a blend of dynamic lighting, motion blur, particle effects and by night, neon glow. It does a great job at purveying the sense of insane speed that you can imagine cars laden with enough horsepower to get into orbit would offer and thanks to high resolution textures and a solid frame rate, it looks and handles like any high quality racer should.

Need for Speed: No limits - NfSNL graphics

Whilst the list is small, there are a few rough edges that we’d have liked ironed out. Performance-wise, hit boxes on menu items didn’t always register, making it tricky to navigate through menus and options lists, whilst on occasion textures for the odd in-race object didn’t load, such as ramps – making them particularly hard to spot when trying to power up your nitrous meter mid-race.

Unlike other arcade racers, damage is also a key component of gameplay and if you’re not too careful you could be out before the race is even over. It’s in place so that the cops cars that occasionally drop in on your antics are more of a threat than just messing up your overall time, but it also means that you’re penalised for trading paint with your fellow racers and that takes a touch of fun out of an otherwise great gameplay experience.

For a simple game that boils down to come first or try again, there’s a surprising amount of depth to Need for Speed: No Limits. Its free-to-play model works well and whilst those wholly against laying down real-world cash for in0game items may have to grind a little bit, it’s certainly not a game-breaking attribute in this instance.

Need for Speed: No limits - Our NfSNL verdict

Unless you’re in the Netherlands (where the game has been available since January), Need for Speed: No Limits has just launched and it’s ready and waiting for you to pick up the keys from your app store of choice, on Android and iOS.

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