Asphalt 5, Gameloft’s follow-up title in their arcade racing series, has squealed into the app store. While Asphalt 4 received a somewhat lukewarm reception from gamers, Asphalt 5 appears to have the makings of a racing game that will satisfy even the most jaded players.
This is a seriously jam-packed game with content to spare. A quick look at the instructions will verify this. As you’d expect, the three typical game modes are present: Single Race, Career mode, and Mutiplayer (available in both Bluetooth and online varieties). Single Race simply gets you into the driver’s seat as quickly as possible. The only difference between this and Career mode is that the stakes don’t matter. Regardless of your success, you cannot unlock new cars, tracks, etc. Selecting Single Race requires you to choose any unlocked vehicle and unlocked location. A quick, skippable video overview of the course plays before you are released on a 3-lap race for practice, or fun, or whatever you might use this mode for. There is also a Quick Race option that randomly selects your car, track, and event for even quicker gameplay.
Career mode is where the real action is. There are 8 different events available in Career mode. Normal requires you to finish in the top 3 to earn money. Cash Attack requires you to collect as much money as possible. Money can also be earned for driving with style. Cop Chase tasks you with catching scofflaws, while Escape will have you eluding the police. Drift allows you to earn points for drifting, regardless of how well you finish the race. Time Trial is your chance to show how quickly you can make it from starting line to checkered flag. Duel pits you against a single other racer, winner takes all. Last Man Standing eliminates the slowest driver until there is only one left. Multiplayer is available locally and online against players from all over. We found multiplayer to be adequate and experienced little to no difficulty getting connected and playing over wi-fi.
There are a total of 33 available vehicles (including motorcycles) and 12 locations, many exotic, all gorgeous in their own way. Terrific detail was paid to the look of the game, and it shows. Colors are vibrant and roadways are clear and crisp. Weather conditions are also impactful, with snow and rain appearing on the tracks and affecting the driving quality.
Gameplay offers a real adrenaline rush, allowing you little time to scratch your own nose, let alone anything else. In Normal mode, you’ll race against 5 other cars. On the track, you’ll encounter various power-ups, including Nitrous canisters, tuning kits, and cash. These are collected simply by driving though them. There is a boost button in the lower right corner of the screen. Tapping this button with give you a short burst of speed. The nitrous canisters refill this reserve, which depletes quickly. Our one complaint is that the button is a bit small and we missed it from time to time. Tuning kits repair damage sustained by your vehicle during the race. Cash is cash, good for the future purchase of vehicle upgrades or cosmetic changes, such as paint jobs or decals. Cash can also be earned through driving skills, such as drifting, eliminating other cars, and close calls/near misses.
The graphics really offer a visually impressive experience, one that satisfied our hopes for this game. The soundtrack is also upbeat, enhancing the experience. Gameloft understands that driving music is a very personal choice, so they offer a button on the game screen that allows you access to your own music library. The controls, perhaps the most important aspect of the game, are quite effective and responsive. There are three options: accelerometer, screen tap, and wheel, all of which utilize a sensitivity slider for further customization to taste. We found the accelerometer controls worked well and stuck with those after quick attempts with the other two. Auto-acceleration can be toggled on or off, though we kept it on. There are three camera options, including a cockpit view. An on-screen mini-map allows you to gauge your position among other racers, as well as see where shortcuts exist which may give you an advantage, as your opponents always stick to the main roadway. The opponent AI is good, showing enough aggression to make you work for your victories, but not enough to make you want to quit.
Replayability is outstanding, due to tons of unlockables, a wealth of various game modes, online multiplayer, and enjoyable gameplay. There are several racing titles available in the app store, but Asphalt 5 is certainly worthy of Top 5 status, if not Top 3. As with most new Gameloft titles, Asphalt 5 will set you back $6.99, but it’s a small price to pay for a terrific game which could remain a staple on your iDevice for a long time. Asphalt 5, appropriately enough, receives our 5-Dimple approval.
Asphalt 5 gets our AppSmile 5-Dimple rating: