Developer: Z2
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

For fans of racing games, it appears that the cost of entry for fast-paced 3D racing games has gotten a lot cheaper, though the creators will be hoping for a lot more money. Nitro from Z2 is a free-to-play racing game that goes for more of an arcade style and takes some different tacks than Real Racing 3, the obvious point of comparison given that game’s impact and anticipated release, but it lacks that kind of addictive “one more play” factor.

I promise that there are no wild skidouts in Nitro. This is arcade style racing, where maintaining top speed is key, and the brake just might as well not exist. Players race CPU opponents in one-on-one races to progress, take on time trials to set track records and collect resources, or race online against other people. No, this isn’t asynchronous, this is actual live multiplayer against up to 5 other racers. Those who believe rubbin’ is racin’ will be disheartened to find out that there are no collisions. Those who are sick of waiting for tune-ups and repairs will be glad to know that there’s none of those.

So, how about those resources? There are icons spread across each track that need to be picked up, as in order to buy upgrades, the player needs to have enough of a certain resource, then wait for the part to be delivered, which early on is a short amount of time. Players can buy premium currency to spend on additional mechanics to set up multiple upgrades, and to hurry up upgrade production.

The less stringent approach to realism culminates in a more creative track design, full of shortcuts and multi-layered paths as opposed to the pure realism of Real Racing 3. Nitro is also more colorful, though the detail is far less. And I did like not having to be on edge when going around turns that I would damage somethng or spin out.

But maybe that’s why I didn’t quite love this game. It’s not bad, having actual online multiplayer is a plus, and there’s not a lot that is really technically wrong with it, but I just never got hooked. I think it is a well-made product, but my emotional connection to it is just not there. There’s just little things about the really good games that draw people in, or at least get them to have strong opinions about them, and Nitro? I could delete it soon as I’m done writing this and wouldn’t miss it. Not because it’s bad, but because I just don’t really care.

Perhaps arcade racing fans, or those looking for a free-to-play racing game that takes a different approach will enjoy it. But whereas Real Racing 3 is a must-play for so many reasons, few of them apply for Nitro. It’s a solid little racing game and that is it.

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