Need for Speed Nitro is the first game in the franchise developed exclusively for the Nintendo Wii and DS. Developed by EA Montreal, the game features an exaggerated, cartoonish style that feels naturally suited to the Wii while boasting a sharp 60 frames-per-second refresh rate. We got the chance to check out some new tracks and tried the Elimination multiplayer mode ahead of GamesCom.
Making its debut in Nitro, Elimination is a two-player offline versus mode. The mode is an eight-car race, and the person in last position is eliminated every 30 seconds, giving you a strong incentive to drive as fast as you possibly can. In a twist on the way modes like this normally go, eliminated cars are respawned as police cars, and you can use this second chance to make life difficult for your friends by using your vehicle to take them out. While winning a race is still the ultimate prize, trying to ruin a mate's victory is equally fun, and watching his or her reaction to your mayhem is guaranteed to result in a few laughs...or verbal abuse.
Nitro features a number of power-up items, and you can collect them by driving over medals during a race. The wrench power-up will partly heal any damage you've sustained by trading paint with other competitors, police cars, or immovable structures. Meanwhile, the wanted star medal helps you take the heat off yourself and put it on a competitor. When selected, a reticle will appear around the nearest onscreen rival, and activating it will reduce your wanted level (which ranges from one to five stars) while increasing theirs.
Nitro boasts 15 tracks in four cities: Cairo, Madrid, Singapore, and Rio de Janeiro. Cairo is an interesting street circuit, and the late afternoon sun gives everything a warm look befitting of its desert locale. Combined with lens flare effects and amber reflections from glass buildings, the city makes a great backdrop for street racing. Rio is a stark contrast to Cairo's arid landscape and takes place in the heat of the day, with wispy white clouds and a vibrant blue sky serving as a lush backdrop. The track we raced on takes you through the city and out into the surrounding coastal areas and offers some great variety with the concrete jungle contrasting the green, sloping hills and the azure blue Atlantic Ocean.
Nitro features an interesting graffiti-inspired visual style, which is seen throughout the menus, heads-up displays, and even on the cars themselves. The games also has a customisation mode, which allows you to change your ride to suit your own tastes; you can tag your car with dozens of decals, add a paintjob, give it a paintbrush effect, and unlock and upgrade body parts, such as air scoops, alloy rims, and spoilers. You can keep eight customised rides in your garage, but you'll have to unlock the premium models; only the Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Type 2, and Renault 4L are unlocked from the start. Why someone would want to race a Type 2 is beyond us, but it's there should you want to pimp it out and get behind the wheel. If you're looking for something with a bit more grunt, you can also choose from the Chevrolet Camaro, Subaru Impreza WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Nissan 370 Z, Shelby GT500, and Audi TT Coupe.
Need for Speed Nitro will be ready to race on November 17. For more information, read our previous coverage and follow all of our GamesCom coverage at gamescom.gamespot.com.