Asphalt 5 [rating: 5/5]
The App Store has seen many good racing games added to it recently, from the excellent racing simulation of Firemint’s Real Racing, the arcade style speed racing of EA’s Need for Speed: Shift to the rally driving spectacle of Rally Master Pro from Fishlabs there are plenty of excellent titles to choose from for all car racing addicts out there, and Gameloft arent to be left behind with their latest version of the Asphalt series, Asphalt 5.
Asphalt 5 is most closely comparable to the Need For Speed range of titles as it’s an out an out arcade style racing game where the focus is on speed, customization and enjoyment.
There are various modes of play to keep you entertained, Quick Race will launch you straight into the action while in Career Mode you can work your way through the 12 locations, 30 cars and 8 different driving events while the online mode will although show your driving skills off against players from all over the world, but more of that later!
The game uses the trusted auto-accelerate mode while steering is only handled by the accelerometer with moving the iPhone/iPod touch left and right having the same affect on your car. I must admit that I prefer a virtual d-pad to control my driving but after a few races I was able to handle the car pretty well. Nitro’s are also part of the game and are vital if you are going to complete all of the challenges that will be thrown at you. The nitro’s can be earned it two ways, firstly there are power-ups dotted around the track for you to pick up, but you can also earn nitro’s by drifting.
Drifting is the trickiest part of the control method, initiating the drift is relatively simple and even holding it, at least for small amounts, is not difficult, however it’s coming out of the drift that is the difficult part with the car jerking out of it and often straight into the side of the road! This brings me onto another annoyance and that is the fact that it’s too easy to bounce off the side of the track with limited damage and detrimental effect to the car. Even if you line up incorrectly for one of the jumps the game will right you at full speed allowing you to continue on your way. I guess this is indicative of arcade style games but a little less forgiveness in the collisions both with cars and scenery would be nice.
You’ll start the game with a Mini Cooper and a few challenges to complete. Completing the challenges will open up new challenges, new locations, new cars and also money and the option to tune, paint and add decals to your car. These options are all pretty easy to apply and before long you will find yourself driving some pretty pimp out cars.
The range of 8 challenges include:-
Race Mode: Finish in the top 3 to progress.
Time Attack: Complete the time trial before the clock reaches zero.
Cop Chase: Avoid being captured a set number of times by the police, (this mode has recently been updated after complaints that the difficulty level was too high).
Last Man Standing: Avoid being last when you cross the finish line on each lap.
As you can see there is a nice variety here and it all adds to the value of the game, which at its current price of $4.99 is an absolute bargain.
The graphics are up there with the best of the iPhone games and they fly by with no slow-down even with all the cars on the screen at the same time. A nice feature is how the radio is controlled in game too. While playing the game you are able to click the music icon and select a song from your music collection to play. You’ll be pleased to know that it does pause the game while you do this but it makes changing your tunes mid game very easy.
The difficulty level has been set pretty well with progression through your career being able to be maintained at a pace as long as you take advantage of buying the unlocked faster cars and tuning them as you go too.
Multiplayer mode can be either over local wifi, or for a true challenge you can connect to the Gameloft servers and see how you rank against the best players in the world. You will need to register with Gameloft before you can play but it can all be done in under a minute and is pretty easy to do. There are types of challenges in the online mode. First there is the Asphalt Academy where weekly time challenges are setup which you can attempt as many times as you like to climb the leader boards. The most fun though is with the Online Race mode. You can either host or join an existing game and during the times that I have been playing there have always been games available for me to join.
Ultimately there is no difference to playing the game online compared to the single player mode. There is no slow down in the frame rate and no reduction in quality either. The only mode available online is the basic race mode and it would be nice to see the other race types available too but the online mode has been integrated so well that it will add many, many hours of driving entertainment to the game.
If you host a game you can invite friends to your races and you don’t have to worry about making progress in the single player mode as all cars will be available to you from the start although some practice with the fastest cars is certainly recommended if you hope to hold your own online!
Overall Asphalt 5 has enough quality content to keep you with your pedal to the metal for many hours and that’s even before you get online to take on the world. If you are a fan of driving games, especially arcade style, then this is one that you have to get on to your handheld device.
- Smooth online functionality
- Tracks, tracks, tracks
- Cars, cars, cars
- Options, options, options
- In-game iPod music control
The Not So Good
- Drifting control is weak
- Collisions are too forgiving
Reviewed by: Craig Willis
Asphalt 5 – iPhone/iPod touch – Game Trailer