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REVIEW: Need for Speed: Undercover released for Windows Mobile

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The iPhone folks have eagerly been waiting for this title for at least half a year – and it’s still isn’t known when it comes out (see THIS for some additional info & comments). Despite the superior profitability of the iPhone platform when it comes to gaming, EA Mobile, the developer of the Need for Speed franchise, deemed it better to release the Windows Mobile and the Blackberry versions first.

Note that, because there’re no trial versions for any of these platforms, I could only test the Windows Mobile version – I didn’t want to shell out another (I paid for the WinMo version) 10 bucks for a Blackberry game just to realize it’s plain slow / too simplistic (as with most Java racing games) on my BB 8800.

First and foremost, the Windows Mobile version is accelerated on some of today’s most popular phones; most importantly, the HTC Diamond and the HTC Touch HD.

This, however, doesn’t mean it’s

- unplayable on non-accelerated phones. Actually, on some of my phones / PDA’s, it runs – taking into account the lack of hardware acceleration – very well. Not exactly like most top-tier racing games on the iPhone (Asphlat4 etc.), but still very playable – much more so than some of the alternatives.

- compatible with the 3D accelerator (the 2700g) of the Dell Axim x50v / x51v PDA’s. Actually, the game is plain unplayable on these two models. Don’t even give it a try – it’s not worth it.

nsfudiamond.jpg

(3D hardware accelerated HTC Diamond screenshots; on non-hardware accelerated models it's far more pixelizated and "blocky", of course.)

Availability

It’s available for purchase HERE for 10 bucks. If you have either the HTC Diamond or the HTC Touch HD, it’s a no-brainer: get it, you’ll love it.

If you have some other device, I can’t give you precise advice: on some models, it runs pretty well (e.g., the iPAQ 210); on some other, it’s considerably worse (e.g., the HTC Universal) and, on some, it’s plain useless (e.g., the Dell Axim x50v / x51v). You might want to give Google a try: just search for the words NFS Undercover and your PDA / phone model; you most probably will find some kind of info on this.

Note that a lot of current device models are missing from the online “select your model” list. With EA NFS Undercover, however, I found the HTC Diamond version (version v17.0.19, inner filedates in the CAB: 11/14/2008) working OK on my other WinMo devices, VGA and QVGA alike, as well. I’m not sure whether, say, the Touch HD version CAB is any different and whether it runs on other models. It might be, as some folks at XDA-Developers state. It also stated to take advantage of the accelerometer of the phone – I couldn’t personally check this out (but will, as soon as I gain access to a Diamond / HD). Note that the Diamond also has an accelerometer, but it must be separately unlocked.

Compared to the other, current racing games on Windows Mobile,

if you have a compatible phone (again: not the Dell Axim x50v/x51v), you might find it great. For example, compared to Gameloft’s Asphalt4 Elite Racing and Ferrari (the last two racing game releases for Windows Mobile),

- the native (non-Java) versions of these games run definitely slower on my HTC Wizard than NFS Undercover, and

- the Java versions of the games are plain ugly on VGA devices (currently, there is only a QVGA-compliant native [non-Java] version of these two games; they both utilize the upper left quarter of the screen on VGA models) with far less detailed cars, buildings, roads etc.

However, compared to e.g. Raging Thunder, the latter is, generally, better (faster) on non-3D accelerated hardware – and uses high resolution on VGA devices (unlike NFS). Astraware’s GTS World Racing is also faster; it’s just that I find it quite boring – unlike, say, Asphalt4, particularly on the hardware accelerated, accelerometer-equipped iPhone.

If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch (preferably of the second generation, meaning far faster 3D graphics), I don’t think you should bother with the unaccelerated WinMo version, though – current top-end iPhone racing games are simply far-far better.

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Posted · Report post

UPDATE (4/13/2009 14:32 CET): XDA-Developers forum member owziee has made some screenshots of the new version using better textures on hardware accelerated models like the HTC Diamond. I still don’t know where it can be purchased from as the Handmark version I purchased is still clearly an old (11/14/2008) one. Also see THIS for a discussion.

newversion01.jpg

newversion02.jpg

newversion03.jpg

Also, there's a video of the HW accelerated version HERE.

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UPDATE (4/13 16:45 CET): note that, as far as Gameloft’s above-mentioned two racing titles are concerned, Gameloft’s Asphalt4 Elite Racing and Ferrari GT,

1. I referred to Asphalt4 Elite Racing HD, not the earlier (and much-much inferior: much worse graphics, no multiplayer etc) Asphalt4 Elite Racing. The latter runs OK on VGA devices too. (Nevertheless, I don’t recommend it because of the, compared to the HD version, ugly graphics and so on.)

2. On my HTC Wizard, it’s Ferrari GT that is considerably slower (it’s pretty much unplayable as of version 1.09) than EA’s Undercover, not Asphalt4 Elite Racing HD. The latter is somewhat faster (as of version 1.07) than EA’s title. The situation might be similar on other OMAP 850-based devices.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for the frontpage :excl:

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Any idea if the version now being bundled on the Touch HD (in some regions at least) will be available to buy? I'd really like this with the improved graphics, ability to play landscape and g-sensor controls.

Thanks

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Any idea if the version now being bundled on the Touch HD (in some regions at least) will be available to buy? I'd really like this with the improved graphics, ability to play landscape and g-sensor controls.

Thanks

Did anyone test the Tuuch HD version available at http://store.handmark.com/products/detail.php?id=108561 ? Is it the same as the one available at XDA-Devs? If it is, then, it can be legally purchased.

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This game is absolutely awesome (I have the HTC Diamond). It is well worth the money! :excl:

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Did anyone test the Tuuch HD version available at http://store.handmark.com/products/detail.php?id=108561 ? Is it the same as the one available at XDA-Devs? If it is, then, it can be legally purchased.

I have just tried to purchase the software using the link for my Touch HD. It sends me to a page with a very promising

Need for Speed: Undercover for HTC Touch HD only $9.99

However, when I try to Checkout I keep getting the message:

The following products are not compatible with the device you selected:

Need for Speed: Undercover for Windows Mobile Pocket

I can't get beyond this within the store. Has anyone else succeeded or do you have to download a cab file from XDA developers?

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Thanks for the review, always up for sweet eye candy games.

BUT when I tried to buy it the website told me was not compatible with the htc touch hd. WTF?

Should I believe you or the developers? Is there anyone else out there that has it running on the touch HD?

Cheers

KB

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Is there anyone else out there that has it running on the touch HD?

I didn't want to risk the £10 Handmark when it really didn't sound like the correct version. However, a quick Google ensured that I had the correct cab ready to roll within a few minutes. Runs great and, as reported, you have the opportunity of touch controls or g sensor for steering. Still no news of an official release for this as yet.

Obviously I can't post the cab or a link to the cab, but a Google for the obvious terms should prove fruitful. I'm afraid I can't remember the exact search terms that I used, but it really only took a couple of minutes for me to find.

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Thanks for the review, always up for sweet eye candy games.

BUT when I tried to buy it the website told me was not compatible with the htc touch hd. WTF?

Should I believe you or the developers? Is there anyone else out there that has it running on the touch HD?

Cheers

KB

Unfortunately, the developers didn't bother providing a trial version (a BIG problem with some WinMo developers) and their compatibility list is pretty much messed up. I can't state for sure whether it's compatible with your HD.

Nevertheless, as the game comes with some ROM versions of the HD built-in, you might want to look around at XDA-Devs to find out whether they've made it available for owners of other ROM versions.

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UPDATE (05/06/2009 16:36): at last, the iPhone / iPod Touch version of the game is out.

It’s orders of magnitude better than even the hardware accelerated Windows Mobile version, let alone the non-hardware accelerated one (or the Nokia N-Gage 2.0 version). It’s fast, has extremely good, stereo in-game music, cutscenes; it’s spectacular etc. As opposed to what some people stated, it runs flawlessly on the iPhone 3G too; not only the (currently) fastest model, the iPod Touch 2G.

All in all, if you have an iPhone (preferably the faster 3G model) or an iPod Touch (preferably a 2G model), go for it instead of the Windows Mobile version – it’s way-way better.

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