The game sits firmly in the arcade section of the racing gamut. You can upgrade your roaring supercars, but there's no real tinkering here.
Just stuff new bits under the chassis to make your brum brum car go faster. The controls are pretty straightforward.
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Tap left or right to steer, swipe up to fire your nitro boost, and swipe down to start a drift. Complicated things like accelerating and braking are all handled for you. Races fly by in less than a minute. Sometimes your four-wheeled rocket is fast enough that you can get ahead of the pack and stay there.
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Other times you're going to have to scrap for position. Anything other than first place is worthless here. There are different types of challenges. There's one all about jumps, one all about driving on nitro boost pads, and one that involves catching up with an opponent and overtaking them before the end of the course. It keeps things reasonably fresh, although they all boil down to getting to a set point within a set time. But most of them are a lot of fun, and the sense of ragged speed the game creates is worth the asking price alone.
Ah yes, the asking price.
Need for Speed: No Limits is free to play, and about three hours in I hit a wall. Not quite a pay wall, more a I-don't-really-know-what-to-do-now-wall. Basically, just try not to turn excessively. Control-wise, the game has several options: Obviously, which one you choose should come down to personal preference, but I found that I had the most control over the cars when I stuck with the default Touch option.
The main hindrance to your progress in the game will probably be the dreaded timers. They may not seem so bad during your first few hours of play, but trust me: Luckily, there are a few ways you can stretch these timers out so your play sessions can be longer than five minutes. The first and most important thing to remember is that the fuel timer will be magically refilled every single time you level up. To make this precious resource last longer, all you have to do is keep an eye on your level up circle at the top of the screen.
The orange part of the circle fills up each time you earn Reputation, which you get from completing new races. Once the orange is full, wham-o, you level up and get a free tank. First off, try not to level up right before you finish playing.
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If you only have a tiny sliver left, save it for next time. If you do have time for a longer play session, remember that only new races will net you Rep and fill up the level up circle. Also keep in mind that generally, Car Series races will net you more Rep than Underground races, so prioritize those when trying to level up.
The tips above should stave off the Wait Wall for a while, though, so be smart with your level-ups.
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Once you do get shut out, just remember that the fuel timer only applies to Underground and Car Series races. There are five yes, five different currencies in Need For Speed: You earn it from every underground and car series race, with more being rewarded when you perform stunts like drifting, drafting, getting air, and so on. Personally, I only use cash for installing parts, and this has left me with well over a million bucks left over.
Pretty much any time you hit a free-to-play wall of any sort, gold is there to bail you out. You earn gold by leveling up and getting past various checkpoints in the Underground, Car Series, Special Events, and Tournaments. Never use it on a timer, as this is a great way to go broke quickly.