Arcade racers deliver a heady dose of fast cars, insane stunts and detailed shortcut-riddled tracks; merrily bucking realism and racing lines in favour of big thrills. Gameloft's Asphalt series has enjoyed pole position for some time, and racing veterans will be delighted to know that the latest addition to the franchise is easily the best yet.
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline subscribes to a familiar formula. You'll race through a substantial career mode to unlock new rides and modifications. Rather than standard racing fare, you'll belt through beautiful tracks that are laden with tricky turns and copious shortcuts that can be taken to undercut your rivals.
Speaking of rivals, players are encouraged to smash their opponents off of the road and are rewarded with both money and a slow-motion view of the carnage. Outstanding.
Straight and dirty racing is the main order of the day, though a few more bloodthirsty events put the emphasis firmly on aggressive demolition. These modes are much weaker than the standard fare, but they still provide a breath of fresh air.
The driving experience is mechanically excellent. Accelerometer-powered steering makes each car feel distinct in terms of handling whilst remaining accessible. Boost and brakes can be triggered by touching the sides of the screen rather than an icon, allowing you to concentrate on the race at hand. Note, however, that most players will need to crank up the sensitivity to get the most out of the input.
Saying that a top-tier Gameloft title looks good is fairly redundant, but it's worth pointing out that Asphalt 6 is absolutely stunning. Naturally it pops on a Retina Display, but it still runs smoothly on older devices (with a markedly smaller draw distance). Crashes and takedowns are especially visceral, and the visuals are a marked improvement on its predecessor.
Other smaller touches help to distance Asphalt 6 from its ancestors. A new star-based objective system employs bonus challenges (such as nailing a certain amount of drift in a single stage) to unlock new cars, thus increasing replayability beyond what you'd expect from the genre. Naturally there are also a few more toys to play with this time around, but be aware that it's an incremental step forward rather than a giant leap.
There are a couple of small flies in the otherwise outstanding ointment. The lack of an on-screen map makes navigating unexpected bends far more difficult than it ought to be, and some of the events are arguably too long for a portable app. There's nothing more vexing than losing a marathon race at the last corner! However, these are are tiny niggles in what is otherwise a thoroughly polished package.
This Asphalt 6 review comes with a single important caveat. If you value realism over arcade accessibility, Real Racer 2 is arguably a smarter buy. Ultimately the choice comes down to what you want from a racing game.
Personally, I'm all about the action.
- Meaty arcade thrills
- Responsive controls
- Looks incredible
- Some weak, overlong events
- No on-screen map
- Small incremental improvements rather than sweeping upgrades
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
Price: £2.99 - App Store
Summary: Asphalt 6: Adrenaline is the best arcade racer on the iPhone. Accept no substitute.