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For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Out of gas

Product: Nitro | Developer: Z2Live - A King Studio | Publisher: Z2Live - A King Studio | Format: iPhone | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Nitro iPhone, thumbnail 1
Nitro's world is a curious one. From a purely visual perspective it's populated by cute, dumpy cars with shiny metal bodywork and massive, oversized tires, but the peculiarity extends to other parts of this alternative reality too.

For example, driving into a barrel will slow you down, but it's possible to pass straight through a rival car without any contact whatsoever.

Odd crash physics aside, Nitro initially has plenty to like. The graphics are gorgeous, and the arcade-style driving action is immediately gratifying. There's no auto-accelerate, so you need to hold your finger down on the display to hit the gas.

This allows you to ease off the power on tight
corners before putting the pedal to the metal when you emerge on the other side.

Along the way you can pick up raw materials - such as plastic, fibreglass, and steel - to utilised in-between races to upgrade your current vehicle. As you win contests you earn more cash to spend on better cars. So far, so good.

Speed boost

Nitro starts to experience engine trouble after the first half an hour or so. The freemium model means that you have to purchase additional fuel to keep racing - each drive drains your tank slightly, and you have to wait a certain number of minutes for the chance to refill. Unless you spend real money, of course.

IAPs explained
It's possible to use real money to purchase a wide range of resources in Nitro. In-game cash can be bought for as little as 69p / 99c (4,000) or as much as £34.99 / $49.99 (270,000).

Stripes - Nitro's other major commodity - is also available for purchase. 80 Stripes will cost you 69p, while 5,400 costs £34.99 / $49.99.

Digging into your pocket for either of these isn't necessary to enjoy the game, but it will speed things up considerably.
A similar system is used for purchasing the best cars and speeding up the upgrade process. A resource called Stripes is used alongside cash to obtain the best cars in the game, and you're tempted on more than one occasion to buy them using actual cash.

None of this freemium malarkey would matter if Nitro were fun to play, but in reality it's actually quite a dull, soulless excuse for a racer. For example, driving against the computer is reduced to one-on-one challenges where you rarely lay eyes on your rival unless they have a much faster car than you.

Head to head

Five-player online competition is moderately more exciting, but not by much - the sedate nature of the action means you're likely to be yawning by the conclusion of the race.

In fact, the only area where Nitro feels genuinely engaging is when you're in the garage upgrading your metal steed. It's enjoyable to see your bog-standard car slowly morph into a
tarmac-munching super machine as you augment each element over the course of several races.

It's just a shame that when you do eventually get those wheels on the road, the racing remains pedestrian.
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 8 April 2013
Nitro looks and sounds impressive, but under the bonnet you'll find a racer which is hampered by a poor free-to-play system and saddled with strangely unexciting on-road action
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