59280 The Top 3 Racing Games David Averbach Benjamin Katz iPhone Life 1528-5456 2010-09-23 NovDec2010_BuyersGuide 2 5 42 Apps Games

Need for Speed Shift

$6.99, app2.me/363; $12.99 (iPad), app2.me/2600; free version also available

imageThis latest installment from Electronic Arts was meant to challenge Real Racing as a simulation racer. The game is actually more of an arcade-simulation racer hybrid, but it's still is a damn good game. It offers a nice variety of cars and racing modes, but I'd like to see more in the next version. However, the brilliant graphics make this one really fun.

The game takes you through 28 races, over 18 unique tracks, and 4 different locations. When you win a race, you get virtual money that you can use to buy cars, and when you complete certain tasks within the race, you get gold stars that unlock additional events and experience points that let you access higher levels of the game.

This game starts off slowly and the early levels can feel dreadfully slow. This may deter some from continuing on, but they help you get a feel for the game before being thrust into the faster levels.

Need for Speed Undercover

$4.99, app2.me/460

imageThe release of Need for Speed Undercover was a turning point in the way I viewed the iPhone. After playing it, I started considering the iPhone a true gaming platform. The game provided a true arcade racing experience, and its graphics were easily the best available at the time. (They still hold up well today.) Insane speeds, smashing cars, and races around towns make this one of the best racing games.

Unlike NFS Shift, all of the races in this game are linked together with a simple story line. This gave the game more meaning, and I felt compelled to finish it. You get to race in different locations and modes, including Drift, Cop Takeout, Highway Battler, and more. When you finish the main story, you get to enter a special drift competition. This game is fast, giving you the impression that you are really zooming around the tracks. As you win races, you earn virtual cash that you can use to upgrade your car. It may take hours to buy the best car in the game, and even longer to finish, but you'll have fun doing it. This one should be a no-brainer for racing fans.

Best Racing Game

Real Racing

$4.99, app2.me/105; $9.99 (iPad), app2.me/2421; free version also available

imageWho could have guessed that a small company from Australia could create the best racing game in the App Store? Real Racing is visually brilliant on both the iPhone 4 and the iPad, but attractive on older devices as well. The game brings a cockpit view to iOS devices, along with the ability to steer a car manually or have the game steer the car while you control the accelerator. The game was a lot of fun; it left me craving more.

Real Racing is a true simulation game that is almost perfect. The only small disappointment I had was with the game's car selection. It lets you choose from a variety of cars, but none of them are as classy as the ones found in the Need of Speed Shift. Real Racing does provide you with a variety of tracks to race on, and it has career mode that enters you in challenging championship races that let you win trophies. It also has an online mode that lets you compete with other peoples' times around the world. For an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad user looking for a fast-paced racing experience, there's nothing better than Real Racing.