Gameloft, well-known for their countless mobile games, has developed another Asphalt game for the latest handheld to hit the market. The Asphalt series has been on every portable device from the DS to iOS and, now, the Playstation Vita. Asphalt: Injection is the latest entry in the franchise and hopes to perform admirably for the Vita’s launch.
Does Asphalt: Injection come in first? Or is it a wreck?
If there’s one thing this Asphalt title does right, it’s making sure that the game is packed with content. The career mode contains over 100 events that will make sure to test your racing skill as you strive for to get all 5 stars in each race. As a racer progresses, they move up through the tiers which reward the player by unlocking new rides, of which there are 45 licensed cars, and opening up new tournaments. This progression system is pretty basic, but it can still provide the drive necessary to continue pushing forward through races.
Once you’ve grown tired of the career, you can partake in one of 10 types of races on 20 different tracks, of which 5 are variations of previous courses. Of course there are basic straightforward races, but there are also other more exciting options such as elimination and cop chase. These modes aren’t new or innovative, but they can provide entertainment nonetheless. Running from the cops and knocking out other drivers Burnout-style has been and will continue to be a fun addition to racing games.
Asphalt: Injection really allows players to control the game they want. If you’re an old-school style racing fan, then you’ll probably go straight for the dual analog stick layout. However, this isn’t your only option. By tilting the Vita left and right you can steer your car around corners. Also, the back touchpad can be used as a paddle shifter. The arcade gameplay works well regardless of your preferred control layout.
Gameloft’s 8th Asphalt game still contains the arcade style gameplay that it has become known for. As with all arcade racers, the game comes down to three main points: put the pedal to the medal, perfect drifting and use nitrous religiously. It’s all about being precise while maintaining that top speed. This isn’t a game that focuses on the realistic aspects of driving like Gran Turismo. So don’t be afraid to lay into those corners. That’s not to say that the game is extremely easy. The various challenges and competitive AI may have you trying races more than once. Overall, this is the fast-paced, over-the-top driving you’d expect from an arcade racer.
When you feel your ready to leave the computer-controller racers behind, you can take on your friends in the various racing modes via local or online multiplayer. The modes feel just as solid as they do in their single player counterparts. One of the major differences come in the form of the snapshots that appear during these races. If you’ve ever played Burnout: Paradise, then you’ll be familiar with this feature. If you win the race or take out another racer, the Vita’s front camera will take a picture of your face the moment these actions were performed. Other than that, you can (hopefully) marvel at your multiplayer stats.
With titles such as Wipeout 2048 and Uncharted: Golden Abyss showing off the Vita’s potential, Asphalt: Injection falls short of being visually impressive. Actually, it doesn’t seem like too much of an improvement from its iOS entry, which is saying something given the power behind Sony’s new handheld. Injection feels like a rushed cash-in to ensure that an Asphalt game would be available on the Vita immediately. This is unfortunate because a little more time and polish could have not only made this a better racing game, but it could have also strengthened the Vita’s launch titles.
You may be thinking this category should have been added to the HOTs section since this title is ten dollars less than the average Vita game right now. That would be something to praise if Asphalt: Injection didn’t feel so similar to Asphalt 6: Adrenaline. I know I already mentioned that it LOOKS a lot like the iOS version, but it also offers the same experience in nearly every other area. Minus a couple features, the App Store title can provide players with the almost the same amount of content at the $0.99 price point. The difference of $29 is huge, especially when gamers really need to be smart about how they divide up their money with so many great titles already out and on the way. If Asphalt wasn’t available on the Android Market or App Store, then yes, Injection would be a great bundle of content on its own, but that’s not the case here.
With that classic arcade gameplay comes that old-school AI. Many times you’ll find yourself in one of two situations. The first is that you’ll be leading the pack when suddenly every car magically catches up to you. This “rubber-banding” AI can be very annoying and really strips away any feeling of success that set in after passing the car in first place. The second scenario is the other common occurrence. Sometimes you’ll make your way up to second place only to find that the first car can maintain a speed faster than you regardless of how much boosting you do. While coming in 3rd is still acceptable by the game’s standards to progress, it will still annoy competitive racers and completionists looking to obtain every star.
Gameloft’s latest Asphalt offering doesn’t quite live up to the expectations the Vita has set. The graphics and gameplay are dated and don’t offer up an experience that differentiates itself much from the other Asphalt titles found on smartphones. If you can ignore the fact that there’s a $0.99 alternative, then Asphalt: Injection is a decent arcade racer that packs in 20 tracks, 45 cars and over 100 career events that will definitely keep players busy who aren’t turned off by its simplicity. However, with Wipeout 2048 available now and Ridge Racer (also at the $30 price point) coming soon, I feel that racing fans have better options to satisfy their need for speed on-the-go.
[Editor’s Note: Asphalt: Injection was reviewed on the Playstation Vita platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Asphalt: Injection (PS Vita) Review,