Back on St. Patty's day we announced here on the blogs that Need for Speed Shift 3D for the BlackBerry Storm2 finally hit App World. This is one of the games that was demoed back at the BlackBerry Developer showing off RIM's newly announced Open GL APIs. With the 3D version of the game now available for the Storm2, I gave it a download and walkthrough and also compared to the 2D version available for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 (does not support Open GL) as well as the version of Need for Speed Shift available for the iPhone in Apple's App Store. Watch the video above to see how it unfolds and read on for some more details.
Let's break this down...
File Size: The 2D version of Need for Speed Shift for BlackBerry rings in at 648kb (small) while the 3D version for the Storm2 is 2.8MB, which is currently considered relatively large for a BlackBerry app. Both BlackBerry versions are tiny though compared to the iPhone version, which is 178megs in size (that's bigger than the available free flash memory on your 256MB BlackBerry).
Price: In App World, the 2D version is $6.99 while the 3D version is $9.99. For comparison's sake, the iPhone version is currently priced at $6.99, though it originally debuted at $9.99 (so I don't want to hear any complaints about BB apps costing more money just yet!). :)
Graphics: It's almost laughable (or is it so sad that it makes me want to cry??) to compare the 2D version of this game on the BlackBerry Bold 9700 to the 3D version on the Storm2 or to the iPhone version. I guess you can't pack that many detailed graphics into only 648kb and without support of the Open GL standard there's no point to anyway. I found the graphics on 3D version on the BlackBerry Storm2 to be quite acceptable. There's definitely still some room for improvement (I'm guessing a higher resolution display would smooth out some of the rougher edges and more detail could be added to the cars/scenery) but the 3D graphics are just night and day better than 2D. In going to the iPhone version of this game, what you really gain is a lot more detail. I guess at 2.7MB in file size, the Storm2's 3D version is already as big as you can really get away with on BlackBerry. Adding in the extra scenery bitmaps (more billboards, people in the stands, more details to the cars, etc.) is going to dramatically increase the file size of the game. Without the memory limitations on the iPhone, they pack more transitional and intro stuff into the game that adds to the flavor (even the EA logo and Need for Speed shift splash screens are fancier on the iPhone). That said, ignorance is bliss here. If you just pick up and play the Storm2 version you won't feel hard done by at all. It's good times. However, if you put it side by side with the same game on the iPhone you'll feel a bit of game envy. Sucks that I have to say that, but it's true.
Sounds: The soundtracks used on the BlackBerry version are realllllly limited here. You're almost better off putting the game on mute so you don't drive yourself bonkers. Sound files take up memory, so again this is an area where EA really kept things minimal. The iPhone game is full of sound effects and race tunes. I really wish EA would have done here what Lone Dwarf Games did on Wrath for BlackBerry and would allow you to load a playlist from your Media Library to use for the gameplay music. I'd much rather listen to my own music than what EA put into the BlackBerry version.
Gameplay: On the Bold 9700... err.. no comment. I found the BlackBerry Storm2 ran Need for Speed Shift 3D quite well. It takes a little bit of time to load things up, but the actual driving action was really smooth. I found the accelerometer and car control more favorable on the BlackBerry Storm2 than compared to playing it on the iPhone 3Gs (and I really hate how easy it is to cover up the sound port on the iPhone which mutes out sounds). As far as BlackBerry racing games go, Need for Speed Shift 3D is solid.
As for Need for Speed Shift 3D, if you own a BlackBerry Storm2 this is a game you'll likely want to pick up. It's a good time waster, it looks good and is fun. All around solid BlackBerry game.
My bigger takeaway from this head to head to head comparison is though is that while RIM is certainly making strides to improve the gaming capabilities of their devices, there is still work to be done if they want to go head to head with the iPhone in this part of the consumer market. It makes me REALLY SAD that the BlackBerry Bold 9700, an AWESOME all around Smartphone, does not support Open GL. While RIM has Open GL figured out on the Qualcomm chipsets used in their CDMA phones, we have yet to see them support the standard in their GSM phones which use Marvell chips. With a device like the new slider rumored to be GSM, I HOPE they show us they figured this technical hurdle out and can support Open GL with all of their next generation GSM devices. If the slder hits without Open GL, I'll personally have to dub that a big ole #FAIL.
The other big technological hurdle RIM has to overcome here is how to run BIG apps on the device. Either they need to greatly increase flash memory or allow apps to run directly from the memory card. When it comes to games, BIGGER apps are better. If you want to pack a ton of killer graphics and audio into a game that takes space. RIM needs a mechanism for handling this... and they need it asap. I have faith RIM will get there, so in the meantime I'd love to see more games of this sort of caliber become available until we can see RIM start touting "Super Games" as much as we have heard about "Super Apps".