Asphalt Urban GT
How does the first racing game to come out for Nintendo DS stack up to what you're used to? We take a look!
I grew up in a pretty strict household, so while many of you were dating and hanging out in malls when you were young, I spent much of my childhood inside my home. My only alone time that I got as a preteen was the privilege of taking my bike across the street to the elementary school parking lot, where I'd basically just ride around in circles for an hour or two. Not exactly what you'd call freedom, but it felt good to be outside, and the lot, when it wasn't bursting with church traffic, was pretty large, but it got old fast. I certainly had the stamina to peddle around that sucker until the sun went down, but it didn't take me long to explore every nook and cranny. As the weeks went by, I just didn't feel like going across the street anymore.
The same can be said of Ubisoft and developer Gameloft's Asphalt Urban GT for the Nintendo DS. A fully 3D racing game, there's nothing particularly wrong with Asphalt, but there's also nothing too spectacular about it either, and in many ways it reminds me of those lonely trips around the school lot.
At first it appears that the game is brimming with stuff to do. There are a decent collection of licensed cars from manufacturers Volkswagen, Audi, Ford, Jaguar, Lamborghini, and Hummer, among others, and there are a handful of detailed tracks to race on that are based on real world locations such as Hong Kong, Paris, and Cuba.
The problem with this racing experience is it gets old way too fast, the reason being that it doesn't bring anything new to the genre aside from its visuals, (which are good by DS standards but are by no means dazzling) and wireless multiplayer for up to five players. Unfortunately, while it's easy to set up and runs very smoothly, it isn't particularly thrilling because the fastest car will win most of the time. When you top that off with a horrible sensation of speed (racing around in a Hummer just isn't fun) and a replay mode that for some reason removes traffic (so you'll watch your car bump into invisible stuff) you're left with a racing game that isn't really worth playing unless you're an avid automobile fan.
To its credit, Asphalt is worth a few trips around the block. Its graphics are by no means phenomenal, but because this is a true 3D racer it's an early centerpiece for the DS system, and there are several modes you'll enjoy where you can compete to earn money to purchase new rides or race after speed demons in a police car, all to a rocking sound track that isn't memorable for anything in particular but gets the job done.
Unfortunately, the controls in Asphalt handle just as well as my rusty old bike did. The defaults are terrible, requiring you to accelerate with the B button and brake with Y, the problem being that they're just too close together to attain any sense of comfort. However, I quickly solved this problem by adjusting the controls so, like all console racing games, the R trigger is for gas and the L trigger is for the brake. As for the nitrous, I left that mapped to the A button.
Lastly, the game has some bizarre physics issues. Sometimes you'll hit things and spin out, and other times you'll run into other cars and come to a dead stop. Also, while you can go off ramps (cut scenes play that show your car sailing through the air), you won't always land back on the track. Oftentimes, I launched myself into a wall and lost the race.
Like the parking lot, Asphalt Urban GT is worth a look but it's not exciting enough to repeatedly come back to. It's a solid title that'll provide you with several hours of enjoyment, but it won't be long before you desire bigger and better things, because there will come a point where you'll realize that there aren't enough cars and tracks. Like me, you'll want to explore the world, but will feel constrained by the game's limitations.
What's Hot: It tries hard with a good amount of cars and tracks.
What's Not: Poor controls make this an also-ran in the racing genre.