This one sits in the back of the pack...
Written by Super User
Published Tuesday, 06 March 2012 19:00
The Asphalt series is synonymous with handheld gaming. Nearly every portable gaming device has some version of the Gameloft racing series available. Asphalt: Injection brings the franchise to the Vita for the first time, and the results are less than exemplary. While it’s certainly a competent racer with a somewhat impressive amount of cars, the presentation and execution leave much to be desired.
Asphalt: Injection’s lengthy Career mode is likely where you’ll be spending most of your time. With twenty different racing series, each with a handful of races to conquer, there’s no doubting the amount of content Gameloft packed into the game. In addition to standard races, there are drift races, time trials, elimination races, and more. Even if the race types are pretty standard, Injection does a nice job changing the pace to keep you from getting tired of the same race types over and over again. The game also has more than fifteen tracks for the various race types to take place on. Though there’s clearly a lot of racing to do in Asphalt: Injection, if the racing isn’t fun, it doesn’t matter how many tracks and series there are.
"It’s a real shame too because there’s a competent game in here somewhere. Gameloft just didn’t find it."
You would think that with nearly fifty licensed cars to earn throughout your career, there would be a decent amount of variety in the driving. Unfortunately, every car handles almost identically. The only actual noticeable differences in each of the cars are how quickly they accelerate and their top speed. None of the cars handles particularly well, and there’s a distinct lack of weight to each of the vehicles. Whether your driving the Mini or any of the Ferrari’s available, every single car drives the exact same way on the track. It’s a real shame that so much time and effort went into recreating these automobiles for them to be nothing more than alternate costumes, so to speak.
Since every car handles the same, there’s never any threat of poor performance in any given race. Sometimes you’ll just need to have a faster car in order to complete some time trial races, but for the most part, any car can win any race. Nitro can be picked up on the track to give you a boost when you need it, and you will have to use it frequently to keep the rubber-banding AI from squeaking past you in the final stretch. Drifting will also fill your nitrous meter, and it should be noted that every single car is capable of pulling off ridiculous long drifts. Asphalt: Injection is almost too arcadey at times, pushing the limits of even its own rules of physics. There will be times when you can take out fellow racers by colliding with them. The game then switches to a horrible replay camera, which takes you out of the race while your car is still driving down the track. It’s jarring and unnecessary.
As if the dull racing wasn’t enough, Asphalt: Injection looks like a slightly improved PSP title. There is nothing about the graphical presentation in this game that truly showcases what the Vita is capable of producing. Sure, the colors are vibrant, the framerate is smooth, and the cars are rendered well enough. But the Vita has the power to do so much more, and Asphalt: Injection looks more like a visual upgrade to a PSP title than it does a game solely developed for the much more powerful handheld. There’s also no real sense of speed in the game. With a racing title, you want to feel like you’re experiencing the rush of the world passing you by as you careen around a corner at over 100MPHs. That feeling isn’t replicated here at all. It’s a real shame too because there’s a competent game in here somewhere. Gameloft just didn’t find it.
For all of Asphalt: Injection’s shortcomings, the online is actually a really smooth experience. There’s very little in the way of lag, and getting into race is really easy…as long as there are other people online. It took a few tries on separate nights to try and find more than one other person to race with. Thankfully, you can fill out the rest of the eight available race slots with AI drivers. That said, the online AI driving is horrendous. Where the offline AI will constantly rubber-band to wherever you are on the track, the online AI is often left in the dust just a short while after starting the race. Whether this was to always leave the race up to the human opponents or not, only Gameloft knows. If that was the case though, why even include the computer in online races at all? There’s a minimal leveling system which accrues experience based on race performance, but it’s merely in place to show how well you stack up against other online racers.
Even though Asphalt: Injection is one of the few racing games available for the Vita, it’s tough to recommend it. If you absolutely need a portable racing fix, Injection isn’t a bad option. There’s plenty to do in the game, it’s just that much of what there is to do is extremely boring. Gameloft had a real chance to stake a claim on the racing genre with a solid launch title. Unfortunately, Asphalt: Injection is just isn’t the game it deserved to be.
Release date : 2012-02-14
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Gameloft
Gameplay : Racing
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