We put Gameloft's portable racer to the test to see if it burns out.
This review comes from Modojo reader and fellow community member, Jeff Masser.
3DS launched with few games to choose from. Faced with slim pickings, I purchased Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Lego Star Wars and a game called Asphalt 3D. I knew what to expect with SSFIV and Lego, but had never played an Asphalt title before, despite Gameloft's racing series appearing on different platforms over the years. What I found was a game that somewhat resembled Burnout, but was not quite up to par with the wildly successful EA franchise. That said, it was still enjoyable on Nintendo's young platform.
This time around, Gameloft released Asphalt: Injection on the more powerful PlayStation Vita, with expectations admittedly low for this new entry. Is Asphalt: Injection another launch title destined for the bargain bin, or is it a Burnout killer?
Asphalt contains both a career mode and online multiplayer. The former consists of 20 different levels of racing, beginning with League Qualifiers and ending in the 20th and final level, Asphalt Legends. Each level contains five types of races, ranging from a normal race, time attack, an "evade the police" type chase, elimination and Burnout style Destruction races that challenge players to knock down a set number of rivals by smashing into and sending these vehicles flying off the tracks. Depending on how well they do in said events, players receive a score of one to five stars, which they'll use to access higher levels.
As expected, the game's difficulty ramps up in later stages. Asphalt gets quite challenging, yet I had fun with it, and at times it became addictive, where I played longer than expected with that "just one more race" mentality.
Content-wise, the game will remind people of Need for Speed, another EA property. Asphalt contains a large roster of vehicles, ranging from an original DeLorean to BMWs, Fords and even Ferraris. Players upgrade vehicles with money collected during events. Upgrades include engine parts, suspensions and even sponsorships that provide perks, like more money collected during races. There are 15 tracks overall, with locations ranging from all over the world, such as Los Angeles and Moscow.
Asphalt Injection's graphics are adequate and colorful, yet the difference between it, Asphalt 3D and the mobile Asphalt titles is minimal. While sitting amongst casual gamers today, someone asked if I was "playing the new PSP". I responded with "yes", and when they asked to see it, had to provide a disclaimer prior to handing it over that went something like "the graphics on this system are great, but don't judge them by Asphalt: Injection". While he was still enamored with the five-inch OLED screen and the level of brightness, I could tell he wasn't impressed with the visuals.
As for controls, Asphalt is an arcade racing game with a similar feel to a kart racer. The cars control tightly overall. Drifting builds your nitro meter, which eventually maxes out, allowing players to enter a seemingly invincible, nitro fueled state, where simply touching opponents' vehicles will launch them off the road; balancing one's boost is key to victory in most of the races and challenges. There's also a "tilt" steering option with shifting assigned to the rear touch pad.
The audio, sadly, is a by the numbers experience. Music consists of techno and house style tracks. The female announcer, meanwhile, spouts forgettable one-liners and ends up being an annoyance. The cars sound good, engines roaring and tires squealing during drifts, but it's nothing special.
Online multiplayer is also nothing to write home about, either, with quick play, host game and join game options, comprised of basic races. Again, nothing phenomenal, but it serves to extend the life of the game after you finish the campaign.
Overall, Asphalt: Injection is a fun racing experience, albeit somewhat generic. With six racing games at PlayStation Vita's launch vying for your attention, I'd say this game probably ranks around the middle or lower end of the spectrum. If you played Asphalt in the past, you know what the deal is. At 29.99, it's one of the lower priced launch titles, but if you have a capable cell-phone or 3DS, you can get a similar Asphalt game on the cheap.
As for this title threatening EA, the Burnout publisher has nothing to worry about.
Review copy provided by Ubisoft.
What's Hot: Licensed cars, tight controls, somewhat addictive gameplay, the best Asphalt yet.
What's Not: Similar to other Asphalt titles, basic online multiplayer, average graphics and sound.