|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 3, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
This game is way too easy for way too long. We blew through the first two cups with very few losses. We hardly saw another car on even some of the Gold Cup races, and on the Nitro Cup challenge unlocked by winning the Silver Cup, we went the wrong way, turned around, and still managed to win on our first try. Players who want to meet heavy or even moderate resistance quickly should opt for a harder game.
Regardless, the bottom line is that even the easy races are just plain fun. Sure, it's silly that you can pass someone just by driving behind them and pressing X. Yes, the rubber-banding is pretty severe. It would be nice if there was actual traffic on the streets you're racing through. It's true that the paucity of nitro is a bummer; combine it with the rubber-banding, and it's actually a good idea to save most of the full bar you start with until the final lap. If you use it early, they just catch back up. In the end, however, the sense of speed, the style, and the well-designed tracks with multiple paths make Nitro a real joy to play. Even the music contributes to the fun, thanks to a good helping of EA's licensed tracks (the ones chosen here are a blend of rock and energetic pop). The races are short enough that you always feel like beating just one more track before putting down the DS.
As a franchise, Need for Speed has long been known for its customization options. Given the arcadey, cartoonish, quick-thrills focus of this game, though, it should come as no surprise that the car choices here are a little limited. You'll unlock plenty of new vehicles, but they're usually just graphical replacements, and you can't do much work on them besides adding paint and decal schemes. Perhaps the inevitable Need for Speed: Nitro 2 will expand on this area a bit, or at least use unlicensed cars so we can see some explosive crashes.
The game's final important feature is multiplayer; it offers single- and multi-card local play for up to four players, but no online races. The lack of wi-fi support is a major disappointment if you don't have DS-owning friends nearby, but it's nice that EA preserved the get-together-with-your-buddies element that has always made racing games so much fun.
Need for Speed: Nitro isn't the best racer on the DS. It's not even the best goofy racer on the DS, an honor that will probably always belong to the console's iteration of Mario Kart. It is, however, a lot of fun to play. With plenty of races in career mode, not to mention multiplayer, unlockable tracks for single races, and records to beat, this title provides hours of high-speed, exhilarating gameplay.
CCC Freelance Writer