Debuting back in 2004 on the Nokia N-Gage, the Asphalt series has been highly regarded as the best mobile racing franchise available throughout its history. In its newest installment, Asphalt 7: Heat, Gameloft succeeds in delivering a undeniably good game, but fails to break any new barriers.
When you start up your first race in Asphalt 7, you will not be impressed by the visuals. The tracks are very identifiable and colorful, but shapes are rudimentary and textures are well below average in detail. However, once you actually start your race, all of this changes. One of the advantages of racing games is the player’s constant motion, removing the need for high-definition environments. Asphalt 7 is no exception in this. When going 90mph, everything looks fantastic should you ever risk taking your eyes off the road.
The cars themselves are highly detailed and can best be described as shiny. There are constant real-time reflections flying across the windows and sides of your car, which is not only an incredibly impressive effect for a mobile game considering your speed, but it also makes the game even more visually vibrant. Unfortunately, this pristine quality of the cars never changes. Smashing into objects will result in zero visual damage to your car, even in a complete wreck. Of course this doesn’t effect gameplay in any way, but it is painfully obvious.
Nothing in the audio department of Asphalt 7 jumps out at you, which is probably the way it should be. Engine revs, tire squeals, collision sounds, and nitro boosts are all present and serve their purpose well, enhancing the racing without distracting from it. When it comes to music, all of the songs fit very well, falling into a techno/dubstep theme that’s perfect for racing.
A female announcer will occasionally shout random comments at you during a race, which is not only annoying after a while, but inconsistent. For example, while I was in first place in a race, the announcer kept commanding me to “get him off your tail”, even though I had a solid five second lead with no car in sight.
Asphalt 7 is a very standard, very fast-paced arcade racer. There are a number of control schemes, at least one of which will fit each player. Winning races depends on your use of nitro and drifting, as well as your general driving skill, but perhaps too much focus is put into passive traits. Be prepared to be left in the dust at the beginning of a race, able to only barely pass a few cars before the finish line. Once you do scrounge enough money to finally upgrade your car, it will be a fair fight, but this balance issue does make your first five or so races with a new car feel rather unrewarding.
Your line-up of cars is divided into seven tiers, the higher the tier the better the car, races being tier-specific. To unlock a car, you need a certain amount of stars, which you obtain by leveling up. Leveling up is done by performing actions during races, such as takedowns, and just placing in races in general. Some cars require a certain level and a certain amount of stars. Even after fulfilling these requirements, you still need the cash to purchase or rent the actual car. If this all seems incredibly excessive and confusing, that’s because it is. It is crafted so you are encouraged to buy stars and money through in-app purchases. This is mostly to blame for the balance issue addressed earlier.
Track variety is a key strength of Asphalt 7. While the number of tracks itself (15) is good, the uniqueness of each track is especially notable. Through faithful realization of distinct locations and diverse track design, races on different tracks actually feel different. The tight corners of London, a cold city shining in the dead of night, is refreshingly different than the long open stretches of LA, a sunny, tropical paradise.
A translucent mini-map is displayed on your screen, which comes in handy quite often. Glancing at it every once in a while will help you accurately gauge where your opponents are, as well as show you any shortcuts you should take advantage of.
When it’s all said and done, Asphalt 7 does do the most important thing a racer can do - deliver a sense of speed. Even when you’re in last place, the race almost never feels extremely boring as you zip past scores of buildings and civilian cars. Despite any other minor problem it may have, Asphalt 7 is simply a very fun game to play because of this quality.
Asphalt 7 is one robust racer. It boasts 60 cars spread across 7 tiers, 15 tracks based off of real world cities, and 6 different game modes. Your career takes you through 15 leagues and 150 races. Mixing and matching all of these aspects will make sure that the races are never repetitive, though realistically, you’ll just perfect your favorites for multiplayer.
Speaking of which, multiplayer is a large part of Asphalt 7. Through Gameloft Live or locally via BlueTooth or Wifi, you can race up to five other people across all modes, maps, and tiers that are available in the single player. I can tell you from first-hand experience that online play is done very well, almost never experiencing even a hiccup.
Asphalt 7 does everything right for a racing game and has no necessarily bad qualities, but it’s lack of ambition is somewhat disappointing. It feels more like an Asphalt 6 II as opposed to the next full entry in the series. Even so, Asphalt 7 is a great little racer, probably the best currently on the market. With its fun, solid gameplay and massive amounts of content, its amazingly low price tag of $1 makes Asphalt 7 worth picking up for practically everyone.
|Sean Capdeville is the official mobile game reviewer of ScrewAttack.com. A cynic and aspiring film editor, his favorite games include Skyrim, Link's Awakening DX, and NOVA 3. In his spare time, he likes to reference Casablanca.|
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