Asphalt 8: Airborne
Over the years, Gameloft evolved its Asphalt racing series, sticking with the mechanics that worked while increasing performance in other areas. That was the case with last year's Asphalt 7: Heat, and Asphalt 8: Airborne keeps that momentum going. In fact, this year's version might have the most significant additions to date - more than enough reason to recommend this $0.99 racer.
Throughout the game, you'll burn rubber all over the world, including Tokyo, London and Iceland, as you race against opponents for first place victories. Along the way, you'll unlock new challenges, including Elimination races and one-on-one events. The career mode will keep you busy for hours, with multiple seasons to race through and a variety of cars to pick up, either using in-game currency or real money. Some of the prices are utterly ridiculous -- $99.99 for the sportiest model of the bunch - but you'll get a lot of mileage from the other rides.
In addition to a robust single player set-up, Asphalt 8 brings a plethora of multiplayer options. You can compete against friends in live multiplayer, or challenge their "ghost times" to see who's superior. These options give the game major replay value - better than what we've seen from most racing games.
As for the gameplay, it's vintage Asphalt. The steering controls work exceptionally well, whether you use traditional controls or tilt steering - though the latter is the best option. The Nitro activation, braking and drifting come off without a hitch, and there's also great satisfaction in getting big air flying off regular and corkscrew ramps. Takedowns also return, adding an aggressive angle to each race. You'll need it, because the computer-controlled racers play for keeps. They can be a little too cheap, ramming you into a wall or oncoming traffic.
Asphalt 8's presentation is easily the best we've seen in the series. The graphics look outstanding, with wonderfully designed car models and tracks. This extends to the lighting - you may go nuts looking at all the pretty lights shining down in Tokyo. The soundtrack is equally varied, featuring the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and other bands that supply high-energy tunes; the tire squealing and crashes round out the audio package.
One note, though - the game takes some liberties with loading. Even if you restart a race, you'll have to wait a few seconds before it takes you back to the beginning. It's not the end of the world, but some of your adrenaline may wear off as a result.
That aside, Gameloft produced a real winner with Asphalt 8: Airborne. Despite some ridiculous car prices, loading issues and teeth-gnashing A.I. difficulty, it's a fun ride from beginning to end. Don't hesitate to catch some air with this one.
What's Hot:Strong live and ghost-based multiplayer, superb visuals, new aerial and boost gameplay tweaks enhance the experience, soundtrack fits the racing mood, loaded career mode, wrecking opponents is fun.
What's Not:Loading times, you need to spend real cash on the best cars, the A.I. can be too aggressive.