capsule review

Asphalt 5 for iPhone

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Asphalt 5

    Macworld Rating

With the release of Asphalt 5, Gameloft careens its way into the upper echelon of arcade-style racing games on the iPhone. This racer lets you blaze down streets at break neck speeds, smash into cars, collect power-ups, find shortcuts, and launch into huge jumps.

Bare Knuckle Ride: Asphalt 5 offers plenty of variety (and intensity) with its many modes of play

Being an arcade racer, Asphalt 5 lets you barrel down the track without a care in the world, bashing into other cars, street signs and so on with little consequence. Obviously, a collision with oncoming traffic isn’t going to be pretty, but for the most part, you can just have fun slamming on the gas and going nuts. As you race along, you collect bubbles for extra nitro, cash or to repair car damage. You can find shortcuts to get ahead of the competition—though some of them are a little tricky to navigate. There are even some big jumps that send you flying through the air for added thrills. Unlike more realistic racing games, the focus here is more on having fun. That doesn’t mean it won’t take some skill to win. On the contrary, beating the game is quite challenging.

Asphalt 5 has three modes of play—Single Race, Career Mode and Multi-Player. In Single Race, you can race any track and car you have unlocked for some quick action, but you won’t earn any rewards. Career Mode is where you'll spend most of your time, completing challenges to unlock new courses and vehicles. There are eight different types of challenges—Normal, Time Trail, Cash Attack, Last Man Standing, Cop Chase, Drift, Escape, and Duel. Each one of these have different goals such as knocking other cars of the road, collecting the most cash, evading police, drifting and so on. With all the different types of challenges the game never gets stale. When it comes to multiplayer mode you have two options—local Wi-Fi/Bluetooth or online. The local game is nice but the online option is the headline-grabber. Online multiplayers allows you to race against people from all over the world in real time complete with leaderboards to see how you stack up. However, the online option does require a free Gameloft Live account and a Wi-Fi connection.

Asphalt 5 has tons of content, including 12 tracks to race and 33 cars to unlock that range from Ferraris and BMWs to motorcycles and SUVs. Of course, you’ll want to customize and upgrade your machines, and Gameloft gives you everything you need to do just that. You can unlock and purchase upgrades for everything, from handling and suspension to top speed and acceleration. There's also the ability to add decals, paint your ride, and tint the windows. You can really spend a lot of time in the garage tweaking your ride to perfection.

For those looking for a specialized control scheme as well, Asphalt 5 has a few control schemes to choose from. My favorite was the tilt steering setup with auto acceleration (which can be set to manual), but if you prefer you can use a steering wheel or tap steering, both of which use auto accelerate. The controls are both responsive and accurate, giving a natural feel to driving around the courses. With tap steering, you just tap either side of the screen to steer in that direction. There's also a nitro button for an added boost of speed and a brake pedal in the lower left of the screen, but I highly doubt you’ll be using your brakes much.

All of the different racing locations are beautifully rendered and full of detail. From the snow-caped mountains of Aspen to the tropical paradise of Hawaii, Asphalt 5 serves up plenty of eye candy. The sound effects are great as well with realistic engine sounds and screeching tires. Of course, reckless driving at 200 MPH wouldn’t be the same without an awesome soundtrack, so Gameloft includes a few good tracks to listen to. Even better is the in-car stereo that lets you select and play any of your own music on the go.

As far as arcade racing on the iPhone goes, Asphalt 5 takes the checkered flag.

[Tim Mercer is a technology enthusiast, graphic designer, and blogger, whose blog, digital-artist-toolbox.com, offers free resources to the digital artist and graphic designer.]

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Asphalt 5

    Macworld Rating
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