Need for Speed goes mobile with Most Wanted

Local studio releases portable version of Electronic Arts' latest racing game.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted on iOS has many similarities to 2010’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. The open world navigation is replaced with a map where individual races can be selected. The introduction of the new iPad and iPhone 5 has meant that the graphics have received a boost to almost console levels.

We sat down with to Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf, to discuss mobile game development.

What lessons were there from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit?

Firemonkeys associate producer, Michael de Graaf (MDG): We had a great reception to Hot Pursuit, particularly to the look of the game and the takedowns. We wanted to make sure that we continued to deliver a fast-paced, action-packed racing experience that anyone can pick up, play and have an awesome time in under five minutes. So that factored into our early vision for the product.

What else did you find gamers were asking for?

MDG: We also saw a lot of interest in the community for a touch steering input to complement our tilt steering input. We took that on board and have implemented what we believe is as responsive and fun as our tilt controls.

Why is the open world gameplay absent in the mobile version?

MDG: We always aim to deliver an experience that is tailored to fit the mobile platform. We know that when people are playing on mobile, they want to be able to jump in, have fun and make meaningful progress in the couple of minutes that they have spare.

How is the development team able to push the game's graphics?

MDG: Mobile devices are getting more and more powerful, and the new iPad is no exception. It has a beautiful, high resolution screen and hardware that allows us to take advantage of it. Taking away the need to worry about performance always allows us to achieve the best results, as we don’t need to curb our ambitions and opens up new possibilities for techniques.

How different is the iPhone 5 version to the 4/4S versions?

MDG: The iPhone 5 is an incredible device. The wide screen very much enhances the racing experience and sense of speed, and the chip in what is a tiny device takes the power we have available to another level. The phone itself is so lightweight you barely notice it in your hands. The most exciting feature for us that this has allowed us to do is a radial motion blur effect dependent on the speed of the car, which looks fantastic.

What else sets the game apart?

MDG: With Most Wanted, we took the opportunity to revisit our driving model from the ground up. We have such an enormous range of cars in Most Wanted, and we wanted the ability for the player to really feel the difference between driving each of them. For example, the contrast between driving a Hummer A1 Alpha versus a Dodge Challenger SRT8 382 versus a Porsche 911 Carrera S. We also took a different approach to drifting than our previous games, so we could make it easy to jump into, feel fantastic and fast, but also have depth to master.

Is there vehicle damage in Need for Speed: Most Wanted?

MDG: Definitely. We’re excited to bring a full set of damage to the cars, and not just to the player’s car. The opponents and cops also get the treatment. There’s nothing more satisfying than shunting a cop into a roadblock and watching their bumpers fly off as they tumble through the air.

Is the size of the app ever a consideration?

MDG: It’s something we do consider, as we’re aware that not everyone has the connection or space to cope with large apps. It is challenging to keep the app size down when we want to provide a large selection of the best-looking cars and tracks that we can, so we make sure we aren’t wasteful while still not compromising on the breadth and quality of content.

How does the vehicle list compare to the console version?

MDG: There’s a huge amount of crossover between the console and mobile games, but each version has a few exclusive cars to set them apart.

Which is your favourite Need For Speed game?

MDG: This might seem cheesy, but honestly after having played a significant amount of Need for Speed: Most Wanted throughout the course of development, I think the game, on both mobile and console, is the best one yet.

What do you like most about Need for Speed: Most Wanted?

MDG: Leaving aside mobile, as we’ve created each version here and we believe we’ve improved with each new version, on console I just love the feel of the driving, the pace of the races, the design of the world and how connected the game is. There’s nothing that’s better than jumping into a game and smashing a friend’s time, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for competition in Most Wanted.

Want to read other video game interviews with key figures from Sony, Microsoft and more? Then check out Good Gear Guide's complete interview archive.

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