Worth Looking Back At
I spent most of my time running through the story mode, which to be honest, is a bit contrived. The artwork looks pretty, but the story is trite. That being said, the gameplay progression -- unlocking tiered parts, assist drivers, etc. -- makes sense and holds up surprisingly well to this day.
The controls are really straightforward, and being able to nudge turns by pressing either up or down on the D-pad while turning is an inspired and useful mechanic. Unfortunately, you can't really tweak the controls to your liking, and using the right shoulder button to accelerate caused my other fingers to grind into the opening of the GBA slot on the DS. A bit uncomfortable during those white-knuckle moments, but not a huge deal, really.
The main appeal to me with this game, though, lies in the track design. It's easy to take street racers on DS for granted, but with Own The City there are a lot of cool shortcuts, and the track design is exciting. There are enough pedestrian cars on the road to force you to drive carefully without bogging down the game's sense of speed.
Visually, it's decent. There's nothing ugly about the game, and the 3D visuals run smooth. It's not quite up to snuff with some of the prettier racers I've seen on DS, but it gets the job done in a fun way. The music, too, actually isn't terrible like it is in several of the other NFS games, and having the option to adjust just the music volume is quite a welcome feature.
The game's pretty dang old at this point, and if you're considering it or curious, know that it's really only going to satisfy you as a single-player experience. That being said, it's got a lot of fun, solid elements that make it worth checking out, even if you've tried everything else on the system.