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Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit mixes the fast cars and law-breaking joyrides from the Fast and Furious films with the ridiculous power-ups of Mario Kart. It sounds like an uncomfortable marriage of high-speed hijinks, but this racer blends it well with a mix of traditional racing, vehicular combat and intense cat-and-mouse chases.

Plus, you can go through the whole game without hitting the brakes.

The career mode is divided into opposite sides of the law. Racers are often escaping from the cops to reach the finish line before time runs out. A twist on that formula is the mode where you need to pass through a series of checkpoints at high speeds. At the end of the course, those speeds are added up to determine the final score. And of course, there are the basic races that usually throw in a wrinkle with weapons, such as oil slicks. It’s a bit Wile E. Coyote at times. It’s also quite fun.

The cops go through some similar events, but with justice-driven twists. One mode involves taking down as many racers as possible within a couple minutes. Hitting the turn just right to spin out a law-breaking racer is satisfying. So is calling in a road block or spike strip to thwart him. There are also the standard races under the guise of “training exercises” with other officers. It doesn’t like the most efficient use of tax dollars. Local multiplayer modes are also available, with one driver taking the role of the enforcers and the other as the wanted criminal.

In total, there are 24 events each for the cops and racers. The two career modes can be easily switched, and Need for Speed encourages flip-flopping between the two. That, combined with the bevy of achievements and new cars unlocked by earning more money in events, makes it hard to stop playing.

The excellent controls also have something to do with. Other iPhone racers spottily implemented tilt-based controls. Need for Speed comes through with very responsive controls that are improved since the cars are automatically accelerating (this can be turned off). The courses are accommodating by never being too difficult. Skilled racing gamers might be a little disappointed, but even with some of the best tilt-based controls around, it still isn’t as responsive as using an old-fashioned controller.

The controls are more than adequate despite the great sense of speed in Need for Speeds. Cars travel more than 200 mph, and the detailed scenery moves along believably. The vehicles are among the best-looking out of any iPhone game, with easily recognizable foreign imports mixed with classic licensed muscle cars. The crashes won’t rival the Burnout series, but they’re depicted in satisfying slow motion.

Maybe it’s the bar is still somewhat low when it comes to iPhone games that mimic the titles on the big consoles, but Need for Speed is excellent. Like the vehicles in the game, everything here is fast and beautiful. Despite the outlandish oil puddles and EMP blasts, switching between between criminal and cop has never been so fun.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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