Need for Speed on the iPad: Two Must-Play Titles

The iPhone is now an established gaming platform, particularly for racing games. But what about the iPad? Does it make sense to hold the large device between your hands and turn it like a steering wheel? Electronic Arts thinks so, and they have two games from the popular Need for Speed franchise that aim to prove a point.

So we figured we’d put both Need for Speed: Shift and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit under the magnifying glass and see if either of them can take the heat.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit

Everyone likes playing cops and robbers, right? Well that’s the basic premise behind Hot Pursuit, and it starts right off the bat. When you begin, you get to choose between being a cop or a street racer. The decision you make changes the way the game is played, so choose wisely.

Good or Bad? Depends on your perspective.

Good or Bad? Depends on your perspective.

Once you’ve chosen your side, it’s time to play. The interface on NFS:HP is basically the same as Shift: Rotate the iPad like a steering wheel to turn, then hit an icon near your left thumb to hit the brakes. Both games have added options like an EMP for the cops or nitrous, depending on how much money you have to spend.

Want to be a cop? Start off in a shiny 350Z

Want to be a cop? Start off in a shiny 350Z

Speaking of cars, the lineup isn’t too bad here, either. Start off in a 350Z on the cop side of things, then raise up until you can purchase a Bugatti Veyron. The stuff in between ain’t too shabby, either, including a full complement of Porsche cars and a few other high-end rides to boot.

Just like NFS: Shift, each level is a different location. To start, you wander around the coast, hunting down racers, or participating in various competitions against your fellow officers or racers. As you progress, more and more locations open up. And if you happen to beat the game as a Racer or a Cop, you can play it over again as the opposition, making this game deep.

Pick a spot and go racing.

Pick a spot and go racing.

Between Hot Pursuit and Shift, Hot Pursuit is definitely more difficult to play. The more you turn the wheel, the more the car drifts, which makes it tough to get around some of the corners without a little bit of practice. The game also seems to move quicker, which ramps up the difficulty level out of the gate. It’s a matter of preference though, because eventually, you’ll get used to one style or the other after a few laps.

Need For Speed: Shift

The difference between Shift and Hot Pursuit starts with the premise. Instead of being out on the open road, now you’re a driver pursuing a racing career, going from track to track to make ends meet. The game starts with a tutorial, and that includes green arrows that show you the optimal driving path. When you need to slow down, the arrows turn yellow and then red, which really walks you through the process. Those arrows are still present in the first few levels, and you get bonus points for hitting your marks.

One viewing option: behind the wheel.

One viewing option: behind the wheel.

Again, you get to choose what car you start with, which in this case is either a Mazda RX-8 or a Volkswagen GTI. Again, you can upgrade car models, but this happens when you win races and the cash that comes along with it. But instead of just buying new cars, there’s another option with Shift as well. Upgrades.

Upgrades include suspension, appearance, and other performance mods.

Upgrades include suspension, appearance, and other performance mods.

This adds an interesting dynamic to the game. For example, it took a few races for me to get the swing of things, but soon, I was winning each race. When I got to No. 4 though, I hit a stumbling block: I just couldn’t accelerate as fast as the opponent. I tried three times and the results were all the same, so I decided to upgrade with the cash I had from my winnings. A few grand spent later, and I won the race fairly easily.

Don't like the look of your car? Upgrade it.

Don't like the look of your car? Upgrade it.

Although Shift is easier than Hot Pursuit in driving difficulty, that doesn’t make it an easy game. The first few levels aren’t too bad, but it ramps up until each race becomes a fairly intense matchup. ┬áThat makes the game’s lifespan pretty impressive, particularly when most iOS games are intended to be temporary moments of pleasure.

Verdict

Both of these games have their merits. For me, I found that starting with NFS: Shift and progressing to NFS: Hot Pursuit made the most sense. But if I could only spend my money in one place and I had to choose between the two, it would be NFS: Shift all day long.

Why? Shift is an easier game to pick up and play, whereas Hot Pursuit feels like you need to dedicate some time to the activity. For me, easy playability is the whole point of an iOS game, and I’m not going to dedicate a few hours to spinning my iPad in the air just to race cars. And both games have depth, meaning that I can pick them up and play whenever I choose.

No matter which one you choose, both of them are worthy additions to any iOS library. Just remember to hug the corners, because it’s all about coming in first.


Summary

Race against the bad guys or just race against friends, all on the iPad.

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