Does Gameloft’s latest arcade racing game stay on track, or skid off into a ditch?
It’s hard to believe that there has been seven entries into the Asphalt series, but alas, here we are. Entry number 7, called Heat, looks to expand upon the groundwork laid out by the previous entries into the series. I’m going to be honest, I barely played any of the other Asphalt games, so I am coming into this with a fresh perspective.
One thing I do know about the previous entries is that they were arcadey racers, and this one follows that trend as well. It is realistic in the look of the cars and world, but the gameplay feels more akin to something like Burnout than Forza. I actually think it strikes a good balance between realism and fun. Unless you are a hardcore car junkie, ultra-realistic racing games get tedious. Adding in elements like super speedy boosts and taking out other cars liven up the gameplay and keep things exciting.
On the main menu of Asphalt 7 there are three choices. There is career mode, quick play and multiplayer. This gives you options, depending on how you want to play. If you are looking to be a social butterfly, you can play multiplayer. If you want to spend a long time and progress, career mode is happy to oblige. For those who love a quicky, quick play allows you to jump right into a race without all the extras.
The career mode is the bread and butter of Asphalt 7. It follows a standard progression where you unlock new sets of races by performing well in previous events. As you move forward, you also unlock new tiers of cars. Obviously, the higher in tier you get the faster and better performing the cars will be.
The career mode is filled with a variety of events such as standard races, elimination and time challenges. The variety keeps the career mode feeling different as you play for a while. Running standard races over and over would become boring rather quickly.
One of my favorite modes in the game is called Beat ‘Em All. In this mode, you are not actually racing. Instead, you are trying to force as many other drivers to crash as possible within the allotted time. After doing a few races in row, having one of these helps break things up.
Quick Play is great when you just have a few minutes to kill and want to run one race. You can choose the type of event, the place and which tier of car. If you are feeling indecisive, simply tap the spin button, and the game randomly picks for you. Don’t worry, you can still change it after a spin so you are not locked in to anything.
What racing game would be complete without multiplayer? Thankfully, that’s not a problem here. You can play online (while connected to Wi-Fi) over Gameloft Live or locally via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. I played with the online mode, and while there are not many people playing right now, I was able to get in a game and have fun with no noticeable lag or performance issues.
The racing gameplay is quite good, but it’s certainly not perfect. The AI feels very rubber-bandy when they are close to you. When they are far away they seem incapable of closing the distance at all.
Besides that one flaw, the controls work well. You can choose from one of four options. On the motion control side, there is tilt with auto accelerate and tilt with manual control of your speed. There are two touch control options as well. You can use an on-screen steering wheel and a method where tapping either side of the screen turns you in that direction.
You choose the control mode under the game’s settings. While there, you can also tweak the sensitivity of each control method. I preferred the default sensitivity with the tilt and auto accelerate. This is the default control method, and after messing around with all the options, I found this one to be the most accurate.
The car models and environments are beautiful in Asphalt 7 Heat. There are 60 cars from some of the worlds best vehicle manufactures, and they all look splendid. The engine sounds are fantastic, and I was really digging the soundtrack. Many of the songs have a light dubstep feel to them, and I happen to be a huge dubstep fan.
As good as the models look, they don’t always interact well with the environment. When you wreck or take another car out the camera zooms in and goes to a cinematic view of the crash. It looks great, however, I saw a number of instances where a car would fly through a sign or building. The first time it happened I saw the car flying towards a billboard and thought it would make some epic destruction, and instead the car passed right through it as if it was not there.
Overall, this is a great racing game. It has a couple of minor flaws, but nothing game-breaking. The social sharing hooks after every race can be a little annoying, and they delay the time getting to the next race. Still, slight problems aside, fans of racing games will enjoy the total package offered in Asphalt 7 Heat.