Asphalt 3D is certainly “the other 3DS racing launch title”, and understandably so. Ridge Racer has a certain amount of seniority, is much more well known and, let’s face it, the majority of GameLoft titles are blatant copies of someone else’s work. But I really don’t think it is fair to discount this 3DS racing game without taking a look. Sure, there are some issues with frame rates and the physics are questionable. But aside from that the game, which takes some obvious inspiration from Burnout and Need for Speed, is pretty damn good and packed with enough content to keep your average petrol head happy for hours.
I don’t know if there is a certain amount of snobbery when it comes to Asphalt 3D because the game has it’s roots as an iPhone app, but I was not expecting that much from the title if I am honest. I have played the game on iPhone and whilst it was quite impressive on the Apple handheld, I was not expecting the transition to 3DS to be very smooth.
Surely the most important aspect of any driving game is the handling of the vehicles, and this was where I found Asphalt to excel. The cars drove incredibly smoothly and using the circle pad was a vast improvement over the tilt controls of the iPhone. Putting the cars into a drift was simple and the game in general was user friendly enough to make any gamer, racing expert of complete novice, feel like they were king of the track. The arcade street racing is enhanced, as it should be, by other traffic on the roads, ensuring that the player keep their wits about them. Crashing into these other road users has a couple of highlights, with the first being a chance to witness the games crazy physics at work. I am not saying that this is a highlight of the game, but it is certainly fun. This can also be witnessed by hitting one of the big jumps that can be found in some tracks short cuts. Not particularly realistic, but not a game breaker by a long shot. The other highlight of unplanned collisions is the attention of the police. They will come for you and make your life difficult in increasing numbers.
The game comes packed with a decent selection of modes, allowing the player to race through a variety of different cities. The tracks themselves are adequate, including the aforementioned shortcuts that reward the players that use them. From a visual point of view, the game maybe shows it’s iPhone heritage, with slightly unimpressive backdrops and textures. the major problem comes with the frame rate, which can stagger enormously if there is too much happening on screen. On a positive note, filling the nitro to the max and activating it gives an incredible sense of speed and shows off an impressive visual effect.
The different races consist mostly of simple reach the finish line first road races, but also included are Police chases and the challenge of knocking other cars off the road. This all adds to the variety in the game, which is also added to with the huge number of vehicles available. With some 40 odd cars that can be purchased using cash gained from being a damn good racer, players will need to invest a substantial amount of game time to try them all out. In comparison to the racing environments, all of the licensed vehicles are finished to a high standard, looking very much like their real-world counterparts.
When it comes to connectivity and multiplayer, like Ridge Racer 3DS, Asphalt 3D seems a bit lacking. There are up to six player races available, although this is local and will require each participant to have a copy of the game. There is also some Street Pass functionality in the form of ghost swapping and ranking, which is quite nice, but does not make up for the lack of online multiplayer.
Asphalt 3D may not be as “distinguished” as the Ridge Racer game, but for my money seems to have much more content. Sure, there are a few issues, but Asphalt 3D offers a solid arcade racing experience that should be tried out by handheld racing enthusiasts.
Although lacking some of the nice effects found in Ridge Racer 3D, having 3D turned on is still quite impressive. However, as with Ridge Racer, the fast moving nature of the game can make it quite difficult to stand for extended gaming sessions. The game is just as much fun with the 3D turned off, which it was for me most of the time.