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Need For Speed: Nitro - 16 Improvements The Sequel Needs

posted 29 Nov 2009, 08:27 by Murat @Wiiloveit   [ updated 29 Nov 2009, 16:18 ]
Ever since that very first concept art released by Electronic Arts, I've been somewhat pumped to see where the Need For Speed franchise can go with an exclusive instalment to the franchise. By just looking at that concept art, I knew it would be something extreme, over-the-top and unexpected. I was pretty excited for Nitro as previous Need For Speed titles on the Wii weren't as successful as its brothers on the PS3, Xbox 360 and the PC. Now that EA has shown us what a Wii exclusive Need For Speed can do, there are tons of ways they can improve on the current build to elevate and take the game further. As you'll see from my review in the near future, Nitro was an exceptionally good game but no game is perfect. Roughly two months back, I listed 16 strong reasons why Nitro should be on your "to buy" list. In this article, I'll be covering the 16 improvements the sequel needs, or will need, in order to keep the adrenaline pumping and take it to a whole new level.

Pac-man has already taken over Madrid... Oh no! 
1) VERY First Thing: Online
Nitro is built around co-operative play and head-to-head split-screen features. I absolutely love both of these options and believe they should remain intact for a possible sequel. However, there will be times where you want to play with a friend or family member but they aren't available to do so. Or, once you finish the campaign mode you may want to take your driving skills online and even show off your driving skills or paint the entire city in your uniquely designed tag. I can just imagine how Nitro would look online alongside leaderboards and a free race against players. Online works remarkably well in Mario Kart Wii and it could benefit Nitro just as well. Especially with the ridiculously insane speed. There'll obviously be a few sacrifices here and there to implement the online with smooth enough gameplay, hopefully this won't lead to important portions of the game being torn or stripped away from the already present scaffolding. From what I've observed and read prior to the games release, a lot of people decided to avoid this game due to a lack of online. Honestly, this is the fourth Need For Speed game EA has thrown at Wii owners without any online features. They have absolutely no excuse why not to include one beyond this point. If EA complains of Nitro sales, then they should really be focusing on what they missed and therefore generating such minimal sales.
2) Exchange Vehicles, Race for Pink Slips & Online Ranking
If online does make the cut for the sequel, players will without a doubt want to exchange vehicles or race for pink slips. Sure, playing online is fun. However, adding something totally new would make the experience an entirely refreshing and joyful one. How would you like to take a vehicle designed by you using the thousands of tools onto the online world and race any opponent for his/her uniquely designed car? Don't know about you but I'd think this would be a breakthrough. This'll add a lot of in-depth creativity to the player. If any form of ranking system is incorporated to online just like offline, racing for pink slips could be taken further as new ranks unlock new body parts and accessories for vehicle designs to prepare more unique vehicles. Similar to the ranking system in Need For Speed: Pro Street and Shift.
3) In-Depth Arcade Mode
The arcade mode in Nitro is fantastic since you can do Team Race which isn't in the original career mode. I just felt something was missing from the entire experience which could've made the game more appealing. If EA Montreal found a way to link a small round of events between 3 to 4 that players can choose at the start and the computer takes them from one race to the next, that could be quiet beneficial instead of returning to the select screen and reselect all the game modes, vehicles, controllers and so on. It'll make life a lot more easier and save a few minutes for the player. This'll mean if friends are competing against one another, the overall of four races would be more reliable than one race each time. If friend codes were also incorporated to the online build, it could even see friends adding one another and holding small tournaments that'll take them from one event to the next.

The police are just jealous that your ride is a lot more sexy looking than theirs
4) Control Customization
So far, The Conduit and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition are the only two titles on the Wii that allows controller customization options. You can optimize the controls however you want and that is a really good thing. After testing all five controller methods, I was disappointed with the layout of some. Mainly the Classic and Gamecube controller. Seriously, who accelerates with the R button? My brother uses the Classic controller and I have no idea how he does it. When I tried, it was a total mess and I don't want to pick up the Classic controller for Nitro for a very long time. If only there was a way to move the accelerate button to B and move the nitro button to R, it would've made such a difference. Hardcore Need For Speed fans will also find this button scheme rather unusual as well.
5) Different Camera Angles
The only thing you'll notice from crashing so often is the frequent craziness of the camera. Now, to stop the camera from going haywire, you either slow down or stop completely. This is a real drag because all the other cars would pass you and catching up could be a pain, especially in the last lap and your Nitro tanks are bust. Not that this was a major issue for me, but having various camera angles and fixes here and there would've been a very nice inclusion.
6) Upgrades to Vehicle Performance
Who wants to race a Volkswagen Beetle against an Audi R8? I DO!!! I obviously wouldn't win with a Beetle, but if it could be upgraded performance wise to do just as well as the Audi, it may stand a chance (and that's my sarcasm). Since Nitro was geared towards a more casual audience, I doubt this'll be included since a 7 year old (PEGI age rating) wouldn't know what effects upgrading the engine, suspension and nitrous tanks would do to the car. Nonetheless, the thought of it is nice enough.
7) Variety In Maps For Each Location
Rio, Cairo, Madrid, Singapore and Dubai are five of the most exotic locations you could visit in real life. The game definitely puts you in the hotspots of such attractions in each city and it feels wonderful to drift past such remarkable structures. However, the variety in race tracks were somewhat limited. You'll often complete a circuit, drift, drag and do an elimination race all on one track. This wasn't a major bother, but still never introduced any signs of difficulty since you've pretty much adapted to the track and all the twists and turns. Sure, the difficulty bar will make the maps harder since the AI would be much more challenging, but having a larger variety in maps would've been nice. Introducing an extra 3 or 4 tracks to each location would extend on the replay value as there'll be more unique tracks to attempt. I especially loved the tracks in Madrid and Dubai since they were somewhat challenging and daring.

You'll even paint the road lines. That's how in-depth the Own-It! aspect of Nitro is
8) Add More Diversity To Soundtrack
If you look at Nitro and previous Need For Speed games, there is a big variation between them in regards to the soundtrack. The soundtrack in Nitro is a blissful 26 songs. This isn't bad and EA Montreal definitely has a strong set of artists behind them which I'm really happy to see. However, the music genre could've been spread a little more and the number of songs could've been extended beyond the current offering.
9) Extend On The Extras Section
The extra content in Nitro isn't much with seven clips to watch, credits and 26 great songs to listen to in the soundtrack. You'll also unlock tons of vehicle related content such as body kits, aesthetics, vehicles themselves and loads more. I can't complain at this point, however, there could've been more to emphasize on the current content on these sections such as adding a video feature or even informative descriptions of the cities the player is visiting. The videos are a nice tutorial, but aren't as in-depth as you'd like them to be and they could've done heaps more with this.
10) Light Mario Kart/Need For Speed Story
One of the biggest differences between Nitro and previous NFS games is the story. Nitro is very light hearted when it comes to the core story as it shows a small intro at the start followed by a few clips showing the boss of each city. I think their take on the Mario Kart like setting has worked extraordinarily well and I see no reason for them to introduce cheesy cutscenes similar to previous Need For Speed games. Go with what you have and stick with it. However, there's one thing missing from the whole "no story" which I'll be getting to later on.

Good god, Pac-man has returned... This time in Singapore. They're spreading a lot faster than I anticipated

11) Replay Event Feature
90% of the time, my races were epic. The amazing satisfaction of drifting without a flaw, using Nitro to outrace another vehicle, slamming or getting slammed into by other racers and tons more. I can't stress enough how awesome this feature could be. It could also be another feature for the Extra's section. Saving events doesn't have to be huge. Just like in Pro Evolution Soccer where you can save the spectacular goals you scored into the given 8-9 slot. You can replay these, move around the ball, change players to observe and tons more. This could be just as useful in Nitro as you save epic moments to show off to friends and family.
12) Star System & Unlockable Video's'
The star system is fantastic and works well. Earn stars to unlock vehicles, aesthetics, tracks, locations, and more. What about unlocking content in the extras section? One of the main faults with Nitro is that the videos you'll watch later on were already unlocked. It would've been nice to unlock these videos AFTER defeating that location or winning the Grand Prix at the end of each cup instead of just throwing them there for viewing pleasure. Also, the video introducing the number one boss for each city could've been different each time or they could've said something just like in the trailers introducing players to each city. Each character is over-the-top and looks bad-ass. At least they could've said a few short words to spicen up the competition.
13) Leave It In The Hands Of EA Montreal
If there's one thing I hate about video games is different developers taking a franchise and screwing it up. Nitro is the creation of EA Montreal and if it goes back to Black Box it will be a disaster in my opinion. EA Montreal has done a spectacular job with Nitro while Black Box fed us three ports. EA gave them a shot and I believe they've succeeded. Black Box has done a good job in providing players with Need For Speed games on the Wii, however, these ports haven't done the Wii any favours and neither has it gained the company any good reputation in doing so.

This'll make a good "wish you were here" postcard

14) DO NOT Change The Art Style
Like I've said at the start, I've followed the comments following this game and the fact that the art style "sucks". Seriously, if you're after realistic effects and stunning visuals, then go buy yourself a PS3 or an Xbox 360. If you've already purchased Mario Kart Wii, Excite Truck or ExciteBot and never complained about the graphics, then you honestly have no excuse to complain about the art style of Nitro. Just because it isn't made by Nintendo or one of their company doesn't mean it sucks. The cartoon-like visuals may seem drastic to fans of the franchise but in all honesty I believe it looks wonderful and allows the game to run at 60 frames per second without any frame drops at all.
15) Keep The Cooperative Play
Most of the time, developers have a nag for removing content and trying to replace them with something new. I've played games where the split-screen or cooperative play has been removed from the sequel. I'm obviously disappointed when a game I loved so many has had the key components removed. Please, whatever you do, keep the cooperative play and do not change a thing about it. Co-op on Nitro works remarkably well and having a friend contribute to our stars and money pool is a fantastic experience whether you're a hardcore or casual gamer. I've played the campaign mode with my brother and there certainly is a lot of fun to be had in this section.
16) Boss Events
Every Need For Speed game till date has had a final boss encounter towards the end of the game. Nitro presents you with bosses for each city, but sadly doesn't allow you to compete against them. I would've liked to race head-to-head against Thiago since he seems really up to the challenge. This is how it could've worked out. Omar drives class C vehicles while Thiago and Zaripha drove class B vehicles. Zawad and Luis were behind the steering wheel of class A monsters. The Bronze Cup was designed around tier C vehicles only and it would've been an excellent addition if we could race against Omar in Cairo since he drove tier C vehicles. Moving onwards to Silver Cup could've involved an encounter with Thiago in Rio and Zaripha in Singapore. Gold Cup could've had a boss battle against Luis in Madrid and Zawad in Dubai. Having a boss battle for each cup would've been a real challenge and would've really demonstrated your ownership of that city. Even a final boss encounter as "bonus" would've been really good. Sadly, it never happened so I'd really like to see some sort of boss encounter that branches out to 3 events in which the winner of all three are victorious.

3, 2, 1, let it rip!

From everything I've observed from playing Nitro, the game is solid and EA Montreal is definitely the right company to be working on the game for the Nintendo Wii. They've introduced something completely new and it has worked remarkably well in my opinion. I've had a blast and still play the game as I'm writing this. I've finally found a racing game that goes head-to-head with Mario Kart Wii with a few small exceptions. If EA Montreal is given the honour of developing Nitro 2, the sequel could be mind blowing and seeing what they've done with Nitro, I honestly cannot wait to see what the future holds for this adrenaline packed street racing game. Until then, drive safely and responsibly.