Having taken a year out, Need For Speed is finally back and EA wants everyone to know about it. As fans eagerly await next month’s reboot, the publisher’s Australian subsidiary, Firemonkeys, has launched its first game in the popular racing franchise.
Need For Speed: No Limits is out now for both Android and Apple devices, immediately catching the eye with its jaw-dropping presentation. I’ve never been much of a petrolhead myself yet it’s hard to deny just how gorgeous the game looks on high spec handhelds. We’ve seen plenty of games in the past sporting a similar degree of visual fidelity yet few can match No Limits in terms of style and smoothness.
Of course, given hardware limitations, it’s no Driveclub or Project Cars though, in truth, there’s not that much of a chasm in between. From the garage showrooms to the detailed urban race tracks, No Limits is a proper feast for the eyes and a nice step up from Firemonkeys’ previous work.
Although there are definite similarities between No Limits and the studio’s Real Racing series, the former adopts a feel and aesthetic to match the recent string of Need For Speed titles. As always, you’ll don the mantle of a young and ambitious street racer, looking to make a name for themselves in the underground circuit. Inevitably, this pursuit will put you in the way of potential allies as well as rivals, the competition gradually heating up with each finish line you pass over.
Two things that won’t feel familiar to NFS fans, however, is the game’s structure and how it plays. Instead of cruising around a huge cityscape and doing whatever you fancy, No Limits will present a network of prescribed events, many of which take a minute or less to complete. In doing so you’ll unlock even more races and challenges as well as experience points and currency with which to upgrade and buy new cars.
The racing itself is incredibly straightforward, no matter which of the three control schemes you opt for. The default one, which happens to feel the most intuitive, has you pressing either half of the screen to steer in that direction while swiping up to boost or down to drift. During the first ten or so events it all feels rather basic despite still being quite fun.
That said, more gameplay elements are gradually filtered in. Quite naturally, the drifting mechanic will allow you to score bonus nitrous, as will targeting ramps and gaining air time. There’s even a time trial mode that requires players to hits a series of boost strips – much like those in kart racing games – maintaining a constant speed as you carefully weave between obstacles.
Doing just about anything in-game will net you cash as well as car parts. Between races, these can be fitted to improve your ride’s overall performance and boost its star rating. Of course, each vehicle has its limits – ironically enough – forcing you to seek out blueprints for other cars whilst out on your travels.
Of course, the presence of all these components and their collectible nature means that No Limits carries a fairly ingrained free-to-play system. As in most games currently available on Google Play and the App Store, solid cash will either net you some premium goodies or, at the very least, a quick shortcut to help progress. Having only spent several hours with the game, I never once felt inclined to part with my money yet couldn’t help wonder how tempting the prospect would be the further I advance, with resources flowing in at much slower rate.
Still, as with a lot of free-to-play titles, you can squeeze plenty of fun from them without having to part with a dime. That’s the sinister beauty of the whole genre: fall in love with a game and, chances are, you’re willing to pay. Get fed up, however, and there are no hard feeling – financially speaking, anyways.
Whichever side of the fence you land on, No Limits is definitely worth a spin. The tiny amount of commitment it demands makes it far more appealing than other mobile racers that attempt to emulate their console counterparts.