Asphalt is to mobile devices what Need for Speed has been to the PC and consoles for over a decade – the go-to arcade racing experience. Like Need for Speed, new iterations are served up thick and fast. Unlike Need for Speed, however, it’s sometimes hard to tell a new Asphalt game from the previous one.
Asphalt is always fun and it looks great (Vita version excluded), so at 99 cents, even if a new iteration comes around and doesn’t do too many new things, it’s hard to be disappointed. Asphalt 7 doesn’t do too much to differentiate itself from Asphalt 6. Many of the tracks are reused from the previous game and although there’s a great selection of 60 cars, most of them were there before too. The biggest area of improvement is the visuals. The game is downright gorgeous on the Retina display without a visible drop in frame rates on the new iPad.
On the downside, the biggest area of improvement is the visuals. If you’ve played Asphalt 6, chances are you won’t notice too much else different here. The game offers multiple control options. You can choose the on-screen virtual steering wheel or have an on-screen brake and accelerator with tilt steering, but I found it most fun with the default accelerometer-driven steering with auto acceleration. While the racing itself is unchanged, it’s a blast nonetheless, with tracks laden with pick-ups, jumps and shortcuts as well as plenty of nitro to burn through.
As I said before, the game looks great for a mobile title, but that only applies when you’re driving along cleanly. Crash your car into a barrier or another vehicle and the results are crude and jarring. Also, with so much little being done in the gameplay department since the last game, it wouldn’t hurt Gameloft to maybe throw in a few more visual bells and whistles; perhaps a cosmetic damage system similar to that in Real Racing 2. As is customary with the series, AI rubberbanding is still an issue, and beyond a point, it just starts to feel cheap.
Those deficiencies are largely made up for by Asphalt 7’s mountain of content. There’s a beefy career mode, lots of customisations and upgrades to equip, and a quick race option that lets you play in any combination of track, event type and difficulty. What’s more, the three control schemes each throws up a different experience and challenge. Plus, there’s local (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) as well as online multiplayer. I just wish the game didn’t pester me to post progress updates on Facebook as often as it does.
Asphalt 7: Heat is easy to pick up and a blast to play; a great quick-fix racing experience on the go. If you don’t already own Asphalt 6, buy this with your eyes closed. If you do have Asphalt 6, however, you won’t be missing much if you give this one a miss. Then again, at 99 cents, it’s worth picking up just for the eye candy.