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Speed Devils

Gameloft has resurrected Speed Devils--a frenetic racer that Ubisoft released on the Dreamcast back in 1999--in mobile form. This new mobile version is a decent little driving game, but it offers a more superficial play than the original.

Speed has two play modes and four American locales. Other aggressive drivers appear along the way to the finish line, but each contest usually represents a race against the clock. The cool natural disasters of the original offering are nowhere to be found, but Gameloft was able to keep in the weaponry of its forefather, thus making the game a meaner version of Sega's classic Outrun.

Turbo boosts and missiles can be found on the course, or they can be purchased in the item store when in career mode. Grabbing a boost will give you about five seconds of extra speed that can be used at any time. A flame wand shows the amount of boost left, and pressing the 3 key will make fire shoot out from under your car tires. Missiles come in packs of two and are used to literally destroy the competition. 

There are two ways to play Speed Devils--in arcade mode or career mode. Arcade mode is a race against the clock on one of four tracks: Miami Beach (easy), Area 51 Nevada (medium), Las Vegas (hard), and Hollywood (evil). The three latter levels must be unlocked by beating the previous one, but even so, it'll only take about 30 minutes to complete all the tracks. Upon beating the game, there's no splashy ending or anything. You just see the victory screen that ends every successful race, and then you are brought back to the title screen.

Career mode adds some depth to the game, though calling it a "career" is misleading. You follow a linear set of missions, each with a set monetary reward, and between assignments you can purchase items from a car store. As mentioned earlier, boosts and missiles are available, in addition to a new car. Like other areas of Speed Devils, the car selection is limited. In fact, the fresh vehicle is literally labeled "new car," and it comes without any specs or anything. Furthermore, there's only one new car to purchase. This doesn't offer much motivation to play for more money.

There are four different missions types in the career mode: tempus fugit, time trial, crazy race, and bomb run. Tempus fugit and time trial are the same as arcade mode, but the latter has a 10-second timer that has to be refilled by collecting clocks along the racetrack. Crazy race requires the strategic implementation of both speed and destruction, like completing three laps and blasting 10 cars. Finally, bomb run drops a bomb with a 10-second fuse on your car that must be handed off to a competing car, much like a hot potato. Bomb run is by far the strangest mission, but it also offers the most refreshing gameplay amid the other monotonous objectives.

Speed Devils tries hard not to take itself too seriously. The victory screen features a red devil holding a trophy with two horned, half-naked models wrapping their arms around his legs. A character named Scully gives the Nevada missions, usually with warnings like, "Got caught by alien terrorists in Area 51!" A crass Italian stereotype named Tony is your Hamburglar-like mission instructor. His first line is, "The familia is watchin' you. Impress us!" In the next mission, he says, "Don Calzone wanna test your skills! Even la mamma is faster than U!" He comes across as pretty pointless and presents himself as an unnecessary turnoff in an otherwise OK game.

The graphics are well done, and they feature the Outrun style of striped roads and alternating colors to indicate speed. The scenery along the different tracks is pretty generic, so you'll see palm trees in Miami Beach, street lights in Las Vegas, and other such geographically indigenous roadside objects. However, their respective scrolling backgrounds shimmer like the cities themselves. On the Nokia 6600, the sound is composed of assorted bleeps and bloops, all of which are on the weak side.

The controls in Speed Devils are solid, especially considering the amount of activity that happens onscreen. Bumping other cars off the road delivers comfortable, if not necessarily realistic, feedback. Additionally, steering is good, even when using your turbo boosts.

Thanks to its solid graphics and controls, Speed Devils is a decent choice for driving game fans, but it doesn't have much replay value. It's worth a download if you really like classic racing games.

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