Speed Forge Extreme
Chillingo blazes into the future with this slick racer.
It's hard being king of the mountain. Just when you think you've garnered enough strength to hang on for a awhile, along comes a competitor ready to knock you off your perch. In this situation, the king is Sony's WipeOut franchise, the go-to series for futuristic racing. And the rookie that wants to take over? Chillingo's Speed Forge Extreme, which is capable enough to do so.
The year is 2142, a time when colonization on Mars is thriving. Its citizens, though, need an activity to keep busy. Thus, a Mars racing league is born, consisting of futuristic vehicles and 12 unique tracks. The goal is simple: get first place or go home. Granted, it's not that easy. Speed isn't enough to score a first place victory. You'll also need to acquire power-ups to keep the lead, whether they're defensive (shields, mines) or offensive (rockets, guns).
It resembles Sony's WipeOut quite a bit, but there's one key difference that gives Speed Forge an edge. While there are a majority of point A-to-point B race tracks, there are also battle arenas. Here, you'll scrounge up every type of power-up you can get your hands on for survival, shooting down other opponents until you're the last man standing. (If you survive, that is.) You'll find these events in the game's career mode, which is bigger and better than expected. If you're not up for making a name for yourself in the racing league, however, you can always enjoy a quick race.
Unfortunately, while the single player portion of Speed Forge is just fine, the game lacks multiplayer. It would've been great to see Bluetooth support for this title, enabling you to hook up with friends and race around the Red Planet to see who rules the road.
At least everything else runs smoothly. The control options are outstanding, with multiple types of sliders, different schemes (both tilt and touch-style steering) and tweaks to mess around with; we prefer the default method, using tilt motions for steering and pressing buttons to activate power-ups as you auto-accelerate.
Chillingo also knocked us out with the game's presentation. The music, consisting of stylish techno mixes, is awesome to listen to, particularly if you're using headphones. The engine noises, though, aren't that impressive.
The visuals are also exceptional. Each of the game's 12 tracks sport beautiful detail, along with plenty of twists and turns to keep your thumbs and wrists busy. If you have a 3G iPod Touch or iPhone 3GS, you can also activate Open GL ES 2.0 support, which provides a cool motion blur effect. By turning it on, however, the game slows down significantly. It's your choice what you prefer to have, speed or detail. Personally, we'd go with speed. The game looks spiffy enough as it is.
Even though Speed Forge doesn't have multiplayer, the large single-player campaign, multiple options and superb presentation make it a must-buy for $3. If you're still unsure, take the free Lite version for a spin. Once you do, you'll probably agree that this potential racing series has a bright future.
What's Hot: Various control types to accommodate your every need, superb visuals rival Sony's WipeOut games, outstanding techno music, a decent combination of regular racetracks and battle arenas.
What's Not: Motion-blur affects the frame rate, no multiplayer.