As of late racing games have becomes big business on the iPhone. They seem to be the one genre that is really pushing the envelope in terms of graphics on the platform, and Gameloft’s Asphalt 5 is no exception.
Allow me to start with what I tend to end my reviews with, and that is the graphics. I’m flipping this review because the graphics are so good I feel the need to talk about them right away. This is best looking game so far. There are over 30 different cars in the game, and each looks as if it was gone over with a fine tooth comb, because they all look incredible. The 12 cities in the game also look fantastic, and are nothing but a pleasure to play. The very first level is played in a snowy area, and as you are driving, snow actually hits the screen and melts away. It’s this fine attention to detail that really sets Asphalt 5 apart in the graphics department. I am playing the game on a 3g and there are a couple instances of slowdown, but I wouldn’t call them game breaking, and I would imagine playing on a 3gs would be better. However if you own a 3g, make sure you give your phone a restart before you play and you should be good to go.
While I’m writing my review in reverse I guess it makes sense to head into the sound category next. First I have a confession to make; I typically play iPhone games on mute, only turning on sound for the review process. It feels good to get that off my chest. Now the reason I am telling you this is because with Asphalt 5 I actually had the sound on at all times, and I actually liked it. It has great music, great sound effects, and most importantly, great engine noise from the cars.
We have not established that the game looks and sounds great, with the exception of the slowdown, but how does it play? Well put simply it plays very well. There are two control options. You can either play with accelerometer controls or touch controls. With the tilt based method you have the option of have auto accelerate on or off. If you choose to have it on you tap the gas pedal on the screen and tilt the phone to steer, if you go with it on, you only have to tilt the phone, and tap the screen to break and deploy your boost, which gives a huge burst of speed, and is necessary to win, as your opponents will be boosting it up. With the touch controls (my preferred method) you tap the left side of the screen to steer left and right side to steer right. Breaking and boosting are done just like the tilt method, but because your fingers are too busy steering, auto accelerate is always on with the touch control method.
There are a ton of modes to play in Asphalt 5, so variety is not an issue. There is the quick race mode, which lets you jump in real quick and go. There is custom race, which is similar to quick race, but it gives you the option to mess with setting and mode of the race instead of just getting thrown into whatever the game gives you. Last, there is the career mode. This is the bread and butter of the game, and it is clear that Gameloft has borrowed a lot from the big boys on the consoles like the Forza series. There are a bunch of different race types in the career mode, including a straight up race, a drift mode, a cop chase mode and others. There is plenty of variety to keep you coming back to the career mode. There is also a good amount of customization to the cars. You can apply different kits to make your cars handle better or drive faster, and you can even add stickers and paint to make the car look how you want. If you get bored with the car all together then there are over 30 other cars waiting you to purchase them through the in game store (fake money, no micro transactions). The career mode is one of the most robust I have seen an in an iPhone racer. The career mode seems very generous with money, so unlocking all the cool stuff isn’t super hard, but there’s enough of it that it’s still rewarding when you buy something new.
Gameloft also has a very nice set of online leader boards using their Gameloft Live service; it allows you to go the games website and view race time and scores from other players all around the world.
Overall, Asphalt 5 is very solid game, with great sound and graphics and plenty of variety to keep you coming back for more. The frame rate issues keep the game from being as good as it could be. That aside, if you are looking for a new fully featured racer on your iPhone, then Asphalt 5 is a very good place to look.