It’s hard when a game’s own title contradicts what it is in a non-ironic fashion, but Need for Speed No Limits is a game that constantly limits and restricts you with the upgrades you need to make, the routes you can take, and even how often you can race all gated by its free-to-play model. Apart from that, it’s a great arcade racer.
NFS No Limits sets a fantastic first impression thanks to its slick visual design. The city streets of the training stage – with their neon glow shining off your car - really set the tone for the game’s underground racing format, which has you dueling other racers/players for victory, and out running the cops. Later stages retain this detail, but add variety to the mix of environments as you race though sun-bleached settings such as dry storm drains.
Car models also look great, which will no doubt appeal to car fetishists and petrol heads with its selection of supped up real-world, high-end machines that include everything from Ford to Koenigsegg.
Races themselves are short simple affairs. Controls are limited to tapping the left or right of the screen to turn in the desired direction as your ride auto-accelerates down the course, and a quick upward swipe to activate turbo. The only other addition to this is in the few races that begin from a standing start, at which point you have to feather the gas to get your revs perfectly placed for a good start off the line.
Speeding down streets towards the goal starts off quite slowly in the early cars. So - with no drift, acceleration, or break controls – it can feel a bit simple. But, give NFS No Limits a little time and more tactics do begin to reveal themselves. Keeping a close eye on your turbo level and utilizing it efficiently become vital, as does using drafts, airtime, and near misses to more quickly refill your boost.
Add to this the slowly increasing speed and complexity of tracks, and you will soon find your heart pounding with the thrill of the race.
This is when NFS No Limit's payment model kicks in - and when the moniker No Limits starts to feel a little joke. The game begins to lock your progression by upgrade, car, and fuel as you tap around the world map trying to find a race to enter – be it against other player or through the game’s campaign.
While the free-to-pay model is forgiving at first – with regular fuel refills and a good amount of free crates to provide upgrades – it eventually slows and you are left frustrated unless you want to start investing in part, blueprints, and gas. And with payments ranging from $1.99 to $99.99, invest you can.
The other limit on No Limits is that the free-to-play and online racing model mean that you need to be connected to play. That’s right, without a stable connection you will find yourself unable to take part in even the campaign elements of the game. This may not be a factor if you play a home – but those who play while commuting may want to keep this in mind.
The fun tax
Need for Speed No Limit is a great looking and sounding racer and, as long as you go in knowing the by-design frustrations, there is fun to be had. But make no mistake – the only way you can enjoy its promise of no limits, is if you’re willing to pay the price of its fuel-tax.