Unlock new game modes, customize cars and take on friends in this amazingly high-quality street racer that will leave you questioning whether you’re using a cell phone or a PSP. Its graphics, depth and options make it quite possibly the best overall game in the App Store (although it could be even better). If you’re a racing fan or if you just want to see what your iPhone is capable of, Asphalt 4: Elite Racing is a must-buy.
Options, options and more options—that’s how Asphalt 4 attempts to eliminate gaming limitations, even with its most fundamental function: driving.
Users can select from three different steering settings, including a motion-based tilt method, another that involves tapping on either side of the screen (depending on the desired direction) and even one more that offers a virtual, on-screen steering wheel that can be turned with the flick or drag of a finger.
Acceleration is all controlled by tilting the iPhone forward, although the game is not very sensitive and seems to accelerate at the same rate regardless of whether the phone is almost upright or completely horizontal. Braking and a Nitrous Oxide boost function are controlled with on-screen buttons.
But before getting behind the wheel, users can select their car, race track, race type and more (once other features are unlocked) with eventual options for suping up vehicles and even adding a girl to your car (don’t ask).
As you street race for money, earning extra points for outrunning police and taking out other cars, your total earnings increase and more features and modes are unlocked.
There are duels, where you can bet some of your cash in a one-on-one race, “Beat ‘em all” races, where you’ll only get paid if you finish first, regular races and even a WiFi multiplayer mode, to name a few.
The game’s graphics are among the iPhone’s best and its sound and music are also good, although they’ve even included an option for listening to your iPod instead.
One other impressive feature: the game can be played in either landscape or portrait views.
When I bought my iPhone, I didn’t expect it to transform into a high-powered gaming machine that rivals stand-alone products. Asphalt 4 makes that possible and actually had me questioning whether I really got this gadget for anything other than gaming.
Graphics aside, the depth of this product is exactly what most other games for the iPhone are missing completely. There are so many possibilities for different race tracks, game types and cars that there is something more than simply the gameplay to make the game interesting, especially since features are unlocked based on your success.
The game’s variety of steering options is also impressive, although I had problems with it sticking at some points during gameplay, continuing to turn when the steering wheel was most definitely straight. The tilt steering also seemed a little unwieldy and there was no option to adjust its sensitivity.
Asphalt 4’s lacking response in acceleration was also a little disappointing.
This raises the issue of the game’s emphasis on NOS boosts, without which you cannot pass opponents, let alone win a race.
Many gamers may overlook this flaw, but the racing could become much more complicated and entertaining if there was an increased emphasis on driving skill, including accelerating, decelerating, braking and turning well. As it is now, your success is dependent on your ability to mash that NOS button. If you’ve grown out of your teenage years and are no longer fascinated by the diverse properties of laughing gas, this might put a damper Asphalt 4’s excitement value.
There are some other problems (with the screen dimming in the tilt-steering mode, for example) but they are minor and don’t do much to affect the game’s value. Overall, it’s a stunning and enjoyable app.
Asphalt 4 is impressive, fun and would be worth even $20. It’s a high-quality product that sets a new standard for iPhone games. Buy it before Gameloft decides to raise the price.