Need for Speed Undercover's high-speed action and custom cars elevate gaming on the iPhone and iPod touch.

With the much-anticipated arrival of Need for Speed Undercover for the iPhone and iPod touch, Electronic Arts has not only delivered all the high-speed action and custom cars that fans of this racing franchise have come to love, but it's done so in a way that elevates gaming on the iPhone and iPod touch.

There have been some really good racing games in the App Store so far, but Need For Speed Undercover leaves them all in the dust. This is easily one of the best games to find its way on to your iPhone or iPod touch.

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Need For Speed Undercover has a good storyline that's unveiled in the form of short movie clips between races. The story is quite familiar, but still adds to the overall enjoyment of the game: you play an undercover cop trying to infiltrate street racing gangs by racing, stealing cars and engaging in other illegal activities.

To start out, you're given some cash to buy one of three cars from the garage. As you complete missions, you earn cash and style points that unlock more cars for purchase. You earn style point through near misses with cars and other dangerous driving stunts. There are several types of missions like timed races, elimination races, delivering stolen cars, taking out police cars and so on. The different mission scenarios are all nicely tied into Need For Speed Undercover's story.

Need For Speed Undercover has lots of nice cars you can buy, from a Nissan or Mitsubishi all the way up to a Lamborghini or even a Ford GT. Not only do you get to drive these super-cool cars, but using cash earned on the street, you can customise them, tweaking the performance of your machine with upgrades to the nitro boost, top speed, handling and more.

Since you'll want to win races in style, you can also buy ground effects packages, paint jobs, new rims and anything else you may need to stun the competition. If you tire of a car in your garage, Need For Speed Undercover lets you sell it to get cash for more upgrades or new cars.

Need For Speed Undercover's controls are well thought out and polished. You turn by tilting your iPhone or iPod touch left or right; a quick jerk in either direction causes you to start drifting. The steering and handling have a natural feel to them, and after playing for a few minutes, you'll be right at home with the controls.

You automatically accelerate, while you brake by tapping and holding anywhere on the screen. For a boost of nitrous, you just swipe upward. If you're going too fast to navigate upcoming obstacles, you can swipe downward to briefly slow time.

Need For Speed Undercover has some of the best graphics we've seen on the iPhone. The 3D cityscapes look great - as they whiz by at more than 100 mph, you really feel like you're flying.

All the cars in the game are true to life and rendered in great detail. We managed to write off a few cars while distracted by the clouds overhead or the reflections of buildings on the street. We were truly impressed with the high-end graphics and even more impressed with how smoothly Need For Speed Undercover ran. Every once in a while, there was a slight bit of lag on the 2G model, although it didn't hinder our enjoyment.

The in-game sound effects are just about as impressive as Need For Speed Undercover's graphics. The sounds of revving engines, police sirens, crashes and the helicopter flying overhead in some missions really serve to immerse you in the game. There's also a rock-and-rap soundtrack that's pretty cool; you can listen to your own music as well.

Need For Speed™ Undercover: Specs

  • iPhone or iPod touch, iPhone 2.2.1 Software Update or later.
  • iPhone or iPod touch, iPhone 2.2.1 Software Update or later.

OUR VERDICT

EA has really set the bar high for racing games on the iPhone with Need For Speed Undercover. Everything about the game just exudes perfection. This is what gaming on the iPhone and iPod touch should be like.

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