First things first, don't go expecting the same game as on other formats. This may share its name with its HD cousin, but that game's high-concept Shift mechanic has been sliced out and replaced with... well, some bits where you hold the Wii remote vertically and waft it around to get a radar signal.
Which certainly doesn't look at all silly, nor does it feel incredibly awkward *sarcasm detector explodes*.
We'd also like to shake the hand of the person who decided that the nunchuk's Z and C buttons should be used to accelerate and brake. We'd like to, except our hand is now stuck in a position resembling an arcade crane grabber that doesn't quite pick up cuddly toys.
Wherefore art thou, Classic Controller support? Entirely absent, thanks to the inclusion of motion-based shenanigans.
Hold A and tilt the remote and you can drive on two wheels, a stunt that's fun for all of ten seconds, but one that you'll never use again. Shaking the nunchuk triggers a Nitro boost - an action that works perhaps once in every five attempts.
Melee moves are slightly more successful, a swift jerk of the remote smashing your enemies off the road - or chipping away a tiny sliver of their egregiously long health bar, anyway.
Talking of jerks, there's a cast full of 'em. The story sees you flit between three roles - surly undercover cop Jack Tanner, cynical partner Tobias Jones and smug gangster Solomon Caine. There's also a whining crim named Vinny whose voice actor seems to be attempting a Joe Pesci impression, but ends up sounding exactly like Meowth from the Pokémon anime.
Get past these irritants, however, and there's fun to be had. Missions are surprisingly varied and the action moves at a fair old lick. The handling is spot on - it's responsive without ever being too arcadey.
Co-op missions allow a second player to either get behind the wheel or help take out pursuers, while there's some brilliantly daft DS connectivity, the handheld used to deploy roadblocks and hack police computers.
Throw in a fistful of fleetingly enjoyable multiplayer party games and it's clear that more effort has gone into this than your average Ubi port. Crippling hand-knack aside, this ain't bad.
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Bizarre controls aside, this is an unusually thoughtful port that at least attempts to do something different. Worth a try if you can find it on the cheap.
- Fast and (mostly) smooth
- Great music, crunchy collissions
- Surprisingly fun gameplay
- Not particularly detailed or attractive
- Silly voice acting
- Not much longevity