Get ready to slam the pedal to the metal, and leave it there because Gameloft’s arcade racing series is in an all new form on iOS. Asphalt 8 is all about fast paced action where you don’t have to worry about the brakes, or a realistic simulation, and instead just focus on coming in first any way that you can. The series has come to a mature age, and in each version Gameloft has advanced their racing engine, and they have really outdone themselves with number eight. The highlight of the eight iteration is all new jumps and aerial stunts, which the tagline, “Airborne” suggests. A fair amount of the game results in your tires being off the ground, and that sets the stage for amplified over the top action.
Asphalt 8 is feature rich to say the least with 180 events in career mode, nine deluxe raceways, 47 unlockable cars, and online multiplayer. That gives you a whole lot of potential race time, which comes down to the gameplay, which is where Gameloft excelled this time. Once a race starts, there is never a dull moment with multiple racers flying every which way with the potential for collisions, drifting, and even flight. Each of the nine tracks requires constant attention as there are forking pathways, multiple ramps, and so much potential for mistakes. You’re screaming along the tracks at high speeds so obstacles come at you in an instant, and then there are the various segments that invite extensive drifts, and huge air. There’s also a lot going on in the surroundings with such ornate details to witness blowing by, whether you’re in Venice, London, French Guiana, or Tokyo. There are a lot of little things to appreciate, and the 3D graphics design allows for some of the best looking visuals on iOS.
All of the action couldn’t be simpler to control as you simply use the smooth tilt option to steer, and then tap on the left side of the screen to brake, right side to use nitro. The drift option is especially worth commending, as it’s the best implementation I’ve seen on iOS as you simply tap the brake, tilt the device, and you’re performing massive slick drifts that are effortless to control in motion. The drifting is a key component as it helps you earn nitro, and the nitro may be the most important tool at your disposal to get back into races, or maintain a lead. There’s a two level nitro system that delivers an exciting sense of speed, and it also allows you to temporarily blast through your opponents. It’s quite a stress reliever to get back at your opponents, and there’s a great slow down animation to show the destruction. Speaking of which, there’s also a deluxe particle effects engine seen when grinding up against an opponent.
Asphalt 8 includes 180 events as mentioned, and there are the familiar types: race, elimination, and head to head challenges, but there’s also the brand new infection and drift gate modes. The infection mode increases the speed to an even higher extent as the person in last is infected, and they have unlimited nitro until they’re overloaded by the infection in about 30 seconds. The drift gate mode relies on the fact that the drift mechanic is so smooth to spin through connected curves right through the gates. There’s nice variation as you move through the different modes and raceways with every race contributing to unlocking new vehicles. Still, one of the most noticeable aspects is the ramps leading to deluxe aerial stunts including big air jumps, flat spins, and barrel rolls. All are effortless to perform, and they’re another aspect to appreciate in motion when you pull them off. They’re yet another aspect that ties into the nitro boost, and drifting into a ramp leads to the flat spin.
Through all of the features, one of the best parts of the game is the balance of the racing so that each event is highly competitive. It’s an extreme challenge right down to the finish line as each opponent is balanced based on the car that you’re using, with a specific car power suggested for each event. The result is extremely intense races where continuously filling that nitro bar can make all of the difference, and one mistake of crashing into oncoming traffic can make or break a whole race. The forking pathways are also important, as there are some definite shortcuts that can allow your opponents to get right back in the race in an instant. All of the goodies are also available to play with friends or random players online with up to eight players at once. There’s just such a wall crafted experience to interact with that pushes ahead our expectations of iOS gaming.
Asphalt 8: Airborne ($0.99, Universal) delivers one of the most exhilarating racing experiences on any platform that takes the lead for iOS racers. The entertainment value provided is simply off the charts making Asphalt 8 an absolute must that you will enjoy every minute of.