GT Racing: Motor Academy Free+ HD by Gameloft icon

GT Racing: Motor Academy Free+ HD (Free) by Gameloft has the same console-grade gameplay we’ve come to expect from the developers.

Sporting over 26 manufacturers and 111 purchasable cars (not to mention copious upgrades and paint jobs), GT Racing has more than enough content to satisfy even the most hardcore of drag fans.

The steep learning curve and awkward controls may turn away new fans, but at the end of the day, the app is still a power-punch of an auto title for the iPad. Without a doubt, it holds its own on the track, even against heavyweight champions like Real Racing HD.

GT Racing: Motor Academy Free+ HD by Gameloft screenshot

As a Gameloft offering, GT Racing: Auto Academy is a direct amalgam of several console racing games, taking the best of each and fine-tuning them for killer performance on the iPad. If you’re familiar with Sony’s Gran Turismo series, you’ll feel right at home behind the wheel here.

The game features a career mode that’s balanced by heaps of unlockable tracks, cars and races while the arcade option produces a more classic pick-up-and-drive racing experience. Both are fantastic, and offer a lot of depth.

With over one hundred cars available for you to pick from, as well as countless upgrades and available customizations, there’s easily two dozen hours worth of gameplay locked inside GT Racing. And if all that isn’t enough, there’s even the option to play online with up to six strangers or friends, beer and racing gear not included.

GT Racing: Motor Academy Free+ HD by Gameloft screenshot

But for all its heft, GT Racing: Auto Academy isn’t quite the complete package. The game’s pacing is perfect for a racing title, tracks are challenging without being discouraging, while upgrades and new rides roll in quickly.

However, the controls are touchy at best, and infuriating at the worst. The game offers several ways to tone down the cantankerous controls, including “best drive” lines and sensitivity controls. There’s also a couple of on-screen options for driving the car, but no matter how you slice it, the app comes with a steep learning curve.

If you’re willing to sit through the training exercises, the game’s races and content are well worth the educational effort. But learning to stay on the track, much less win races, is quite the mountain in GT Racing, and one I can’t blame casual gamers for giving up on.

Likewise, though the multitude of cars and gear is a treasure trove, GT Racing: Auto Academy isn’t as pretty on the iPad as Real Racing HD. The car models are sometimes blocky, and the tracks reminded me a lot of early PS2 racing titles. Similarly, the menu illustrations feel cartoony and at odds with the rest of the game. Those are both aesthetic complaints, however, and neither affects the way the app plays: And as stated, the game absolutely blossoms if you can learn to drive the car.

At the end of the day, GT Racing’s biggest boon is its price, absolutely nothing. The game is free in the App Store, though there will be many offers to buy in-app cash and coins. If you abstain from purchasing, however, all of the game’s deep content and stellar gameplay can be yours at no cost.

Whether you’re a diehard racing fan, or just a casual gamer looking to chip in, the price is unbeatable, and the package is certainly tight. GT Racing: Auto Academy may not best other auto titles for the iPad (looking at you, Real Racing) but it will certainly tickle your dragster fancy. Just try to stay on the track. okay?