The lights flash green and all five cars slam forward as quickly as possible, but here I am at the back of the pack. Everyone in front of me is my enemy, and if I pull this off I'll be the best racer tonight. The first turn is uneventful, but as we pass under the bridge I see the car in front of me tap nitrous to pull away from me. That boost in speed made it hard to hug the next turn, giving me just enough room to pass by. The driver of the next car seems to think drifting is life, so passing was much less challenging. I close the gap between my car and second place with a little nitrous, and drift around the next turn to better position myself for the pass.
It's just me and the lead car now, and I now have significantly more nitrous than my opponent. I mash my thumb on the button, and slam the front of my car into the rear quarter panel of my opponent as the next turn arrives. As I sail past the finish line I glance into my rear view mirror, imagining my virtual opponent swearing and punching everything nearby.
As familiar as it is strange
Need for Speed is a racing franchise that has followed console gaming with a great deal of success through the years, and when it made the jump to mobile gaming found a popular brand and real-ish graphics name wasn't enough to earn a top spot on the download list. Mobile gamers don't care if a racing game looks cartoonish, as long as the gameplay was broken out into small bursts of enjoyable gameplay for waiting in line or in between commercials. In mobile VR, however, there's a lot more fun to be had with realism and in typical Need for Speed fashion you'll be participating in a racing underground.
It's easy to get sucked in and lose an hour or more to racing and completing missions.
Racing in VR means you can glance down at your dash to see your speed, glance up at the rear-view mirror to see what is coming up behind you, and look left and right to see how you can use the world around you to your advantage. Need for Speed: No Limits takes advantage of this in Daydream by putting you in a driver's seat adjusted perfectly for you. As you set the game up, you can choose how far you are from the steering wheel and how high you sit in the car, which makes a surprisingly big deal when it comes to immersing you in the race.
Speaking of steering wheels, you don't have one. If you look down in the game you'll see two hands on the wheel, but in reality you have a single Daydream controller. This controller wasn't exactly built to feel realistic when driving, and that is painfully evident as you rotate the whole controller in your hand to steer your car left and right. To say this takes getting used to is an understatement, but when you do adjust to this gameplay it actually works really well. Swiping on the Daydream button to boost and pressing down to drift is actually pretty convenient, and makes these actions a little easier to control than your average racing game.
More than just racing
This being a Need for Speed game, you're going to be doing more than just unlocking new cars and racing on new urban tracks. While it's not a full open world like some of the more recent games of this particular style, you are going to be completing missions to unlock new areas to either race in or escape aggressive police on. A part of the VR package, your "heat map" sits in the car with you and lets you know when you're in trouble with the law or to give you mission details as you continue to drive. If you'd prefer to not have the distraction, and instead focus on the racing, you can remove it in settings.
The core of the game is obviously driving, and with that comes a desire to tweak your car as you see fit. Completing missions gives you cash, which can be spent on just about anything you could think of to either modify your existing vehicle or start acquiring new ones. Your main menu is an underground garage, showing you the map with areas for you to unlock and your current primary vehicle sitting front and center.
Like any good Need for Speed game, and this is absolutely a good one, it's easy to get sucked in and lose an hour or more to racing and completing missions. If you're a fan of the franchise, you'll find this NFS game isn't particularly long. Someone familiar with the game couple completely open the map and start working on competing for the best times and highest scores within a day or two, but if you're only playing one or two races at a time the game stretches out nicely. Overall, Need for Speed: No Limit is a fantastic addition to the Google Daydream lineup and a great way to show someone how much fun racing in VR can be.
- Great pacing
- Plenty of levels
- Spatial audio is great
- Controls take some getting used to