Asphalt 8: Airborne Review
Burn up the track and perform aerial stunts in the latest edition of the popular iOS and Android racing game franchise
There are many aspects to the Asphalt series that prove that developers Gameloft are anything but slouches – the frenetic pace of the game and the fact that this is already the eighth instalment are perfect examples to demonstrate this.
This time around, an emphasis has been placed on spectacle, in particular using races as a platform for some incredible stunts and crashes that come flying out of your screen. One of the things Asphalt most certainly isn’t is understated; from the ostentatious cars you drive to the triple barrel roll you pull as you fly over the Thames next to Tower Bridge.
Everything here is designed to scream at you to keep on playing. There is plenty to play too, with a Career mode that contains eight seasons – one for each instalment in the franchise – each of those containing 15 races. You’ll more than likely have to fly through these at least twice in order to unlock all the available stars required to open up the next season. In short, the Career mode should keep you entertained for some time.
There’s also multiplayer and quick race modes, so the casual gamer and the social networker should get a big kick out of jumping into Asphalt. In truth it’s very difficult not to enjoy playing this game as there is very little wrong with it in any sense. The tilt controls are responsive and manageable alongside touch controls, from drifting to using your Nitro boosts. While you do have to pay for the game, £0.69/$0.99 hardly breaks the bank and the in-app purchases never really come into play. This is because of the generous nature of the credits system, which is all too happy to reward you after each race.
The big selling point of this version of the game is the ‘Airborne’ tag, and Gameloft have spent time overhauling the physics system within Asphalt to make the game tailored towards the huge stunts and car wrecks that litter the game’s roads. They truly are everywhere; from roadside objects to rival racers and other traffic, you can smash up and into most things in Airborne. The results are reminiscent of the Burnout games on console, with cool slow-motion crashes and some expensive-looking damage to the vehicles involved.
The physics are great and worth the time spent on them, with your car reacting impressively to different types of impact – and not just in crashes. Misjudge the angle of a jump and your barrel roll will end up more belly flop and cost you time and places in the race. Of course as this is an arcade game, wrecking your car doesn’t put you out of the race. It only takes a quick respawn and you’ll be good to go again.
The cars you have at your disposal are impressive too, and though the number is actually down on Asphalt 7, there are a host of new cars – including concepts – to get any petrolhead excited. Combined with the impressive and out-there settings in the case of French Guiana for example, players have a lot to get excited about in terms of the visuals on offer.
When it comes to the nitty-gritty of gameplay, Asphalt is bang on the racing line too. With multiple race types to negotiate throughout your career, rewarding speed and skill as well as your ability to smash opponents off the road, there is something for all driving styles. All the credits you earn from your various escapades then go towards either upgrading your car or buying new ones, with the ranking of your car having an influence on which races you can compete in, and indeed have a chance of winning.
The game’s multiplayer mode is then a great place to take your cars and upgrades and test them against all the other players out there. You can enter a room and vote on the type of race and the location before jumping into the action. There’s even a Spectator Mode where you can go back and watch your race from the perspective of another racer – meaning if you won, you can revel in the glory a little longer and from another angle.
The bottom line is that Asphalt 8 is anything but just another instalment in a racing series, it brings new environments and a different skill set to master. This game is up there with the racing kings Need for Speed and Real Racing – and for straight-up, no-strings fun, Gameloft’s latest offering might just have them beat.
It’s over-the-top, excitable arcade-racing fun. Download it, you won’t regret it.
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