Asphalt: Urban GT was unleashed on the world in 2004 for the Nintendo DS and Nokia N-Gage mobile phones. Since then, Asphalt has been an arcade racing game predominately associated with mobile phones and handheld gaming (the exception being Asphalt 6: Adrenaline coming to Max OS X, as well). In its seventh iteration, the Asphalt series debuts on a new platform; the Playstation Vita.
You start your career in standard arcade-racer fashion; a low-tier sport-compact car. Each race has two objectives, on top of the “first/second/third” medals. So on top of getting first place, you may need to drift so and so much and avoid x amount of wrecks. These secondary objectives work to keep you from just repeating the motions. I found myself using these as my primary goals just for the extra medals, and placing in the top three was simply to proceed.
The amount of event-types is staggering, at ten event types. The simple inclusion of a “Drift” mode made me more than happy, and while one of the types I rarely placed first in, I enjoyed it the most. I won’t run through the whole list, but outside of your standard race, the most different is “Urban Destruction”, which is probably the most difficult as well. Scattered through the track in this mode are objects (crates, road block signs, etc.) which when run through give you points. You can also ram into cars for points, but unless you’re in “Adenaline mode” (caused by filling the boost meter all the way before using it) you risk wrecking your car. More options to “rampage” through or allowing you to not wreck your car would have made this more enjoyable.
Physics play a big role in Injection, and are delivered in the form of loose arcade racing that caters to the franchises’ history. In the early goings, the cars don’t feel weighty or even good for that matter. But once you get a few cars deep, the physics start to evolve along with the cars, and you get a more enjoyable experience out of the game. Drifting is a blast, and is encouraged by giving you both cash and filling your boost meter. So even if you play a few races and aren’t really feeling the game, give it an hour or so to click, because I found the more I played it and adjusted to the physics, the more I enjoyed it.
The car selection is varied. You start out with a few “clunkers”, but end up driving the Nissan GT-R, Ferrari California, Nissan 370Z, BMW M3 and many more. The cars differ in areas such as acceleration, top speed and handling. Thankfully, while they don’t all act entirely unique, they feel different enough to make you want to pick a distinct car and stay with it for a bit. Perhaps I am over-sensitive when it comes to racing games but I could feel a difference between the handling of a 370Z and a Bentley (someone I talked to about it felt the cars all felt too similar).
Sadly, the game almost forces you to use the newest car available (unlocked by earning medals, and at steady intervals). With no difficulty selection to even the playing field a little, it can get frustrating, but not overwhelming. One little mistake is a pain to recover from, yet if you wreck an AI driver, they catch up like nobody’s business. I’m okay for paying the price when I wreck, but when the AI has an unfair advantage, it cheapens the experience.
Taking advantage of the full suite of Vita control options, Injection really gives you choice on how to experience your racing. I used (and preferred) the standard method. But if tilting is your thing, you can use the accelerometer to steer the car. I didn’t feel like you got the full radius of turning by doing this, but it was fun for what it’s worth. If you need to get that extra performance by shifting manually, you can set the controls to “manual shift” and tap the back touch pad to shift up and down. Manual shifting is executed well, and a great example as to how developers can utilize that back touch screen.
It’s not a current-gen game if there’s isn’t multiplayer of some sort, and Injection doesn’t disappoint. You can race in ranked matches, or private matches with friends, but the lack of any sort of car restriction option can make it a pain to race online if you are still working through the career. A limit as to what vehicles a player could choose from would make the online racing more accessible to newer players and even force some to use cars they don’t usually use.
With the Vita only having a few racing games available, Asphalt: Injection does a good job filling the gap, and it’s even selling at a budget price of $30 USD. Despite the AI problem and basic online design, there is a lot of content packed into Injection.
- Wide range of cars to pick from
- Great arcade physics
- Online structure is generic, not as accessible to newer players
- Cheap AI will catch up after a wreck that you wouldn’t normally recover from so quickly