First, a little background. The “Asphalt” series of games by Gameloft have appeared on various mobile platforms, including the N-Gage, Samsung Corby, iOS, Mobile, DSiWare, Palm Pre. Nintendo DS and now the 3DS. The “Asphalt” series are racing titles, in similar style to “Ridge Racer”, “Burnout”, those sorts of pedal to the metal racing vehicle titles, though this series has never been nearly as good sadly and nothing has changed here.
Ubisoft make and publish some fantastic games, and most reviewers – myself included – don’t really rate this one up there with those, although I have to say, judging by other reviews this title has had, I really don’t find it quite as atrocious as I was led to believe.
It may be baffling as to why Ubisoft would choose to let this one slip into the marketplace, but it’s a franchise that hasn’t done too badly for the developers. Also it’s nowhere near as bad as those truly awful ‘Imagine’ titles. I can only guess releasing “Asphalt 3D” was something done in the hope of grabbing up the cash of those gamers bedazzled by the thought of owning all the 3DS’ launch titles.
“Asphalt 3D” fails in one key area of the racing genre, oncoming traffic seems to appear out of nowhere, not great when part of the skill is in driving on the wrong side of the road. Sure there are plenty of tracks, loads of vehicles and plenty of races, but the draw distance feels shoddy (yes who knew back in the day we’d even be discussing draw distance on a handheld). The overall game mechanic is one based on the idea of ‘drift’, that is you slide around bends. This works well in the other 3DS driving launch title “Ridge Racer 3D”, not quite as well in “Asphalt 3D”, though it’s hardly atrocious. The one thing that is really irritating however, is how you can be coming 1st for an entire race, only to be bumped and overtaken by ALL cars just as you see the finish line, color that annoying.
The graphics on the 3DS have been beefed up, I’ve noticed it on the other games I’ve purchased or been passed for review, Asphalt 3D looks pretty nice, but again, isn’t as good as “Ridge Racer” and one cannot help but make those comparisons. The one thing that does stand out though is the car models, which actually aren’t half bad, it’s a shame the – at times – stuttering framerate does little to let these babies shine.
If you’re looking for a 3DS racing title, at this early stage, I’d steer you toward the Namco Bandai title “Ridge Racer 3D”, which having played both that title and “Asphalt 3D”, the prior is the far superior game. It’s my opinion this one was rushed out by Gameloft and Ubisoft just got stuck as publisher here in Australia, just as Konami did in Japan. Such a shame because the potential is definitely there, they just didn’t seize it or give it enough dev time. It’s not the worst racing game in the world, but it could be a whole lot better.