Apr 23, 2010

Asphalt 5

Asphalt 5 is the hot, recently released racing game from Gameloft. This is a challenging review to write as I'm also going to contrast it against Raging Thunder 2 from Polarbit. Usually such contrasts are a slam dunk, but in this case it's not so clear cut. Don't worry, though... I don't wimp out and I do pick a winner.

First off, Asphalt 5 has stunning graphics. It's graphics are likely the best I've seen in an Android game. But once you look past the eye candy the game itself is solid and the usual choice of cars and tracks exist with some having to be unlocked by winning races. One difference, though, is that there's oncoming traffic because you're street racing (which translates to moving obstacles). You can also hit other cars and 'eliminate' them if you do it right and that's all covered in the help.

The control is pretty tight and uses the accelerometer to steer and some on screen buttons to brake, accelerate (unless you chose the default auto-accelerate option), and boost. The game also features a nice soundtrack and solid audio effects to enhance your game playing experience.

All in all this game and Raging Thunder 2 are very similar with the oncoming traffic being the only major difference I've detected. Asphalt 5 also has police that will track you down and pull you over. I was somewhat disappointed by that  as I really enjoy police chases and for it not to be a separate mode of play was a disappointment. Furthermore, Asphalt 5 has little (and big) pauses during play as if it's really taxing my Android to its limits and my understanding is that this game was specifically designed for the Droid (which is what I have). I've had games with just a little choppiness here and there and I've had games where there's literally a second or so pause in the game which feels like an eternity when focused on racing at top speed.

When contrasted Asphalt 5 has slightly better graphics most notably with the cars, but it is evident in other areas as well. I also liked Asphalt 5's audio a tad better... once again it is not a day and night situation, but rather that Raging Thunder seems like the roar of my engine was dominant over the soundtrack and I'd rather hear less "bzzzzzzzzz" and more music. Raging Thunder 2 seems to have a more animated course with things such as knocking an orange cone out of the way and then watching it fly through the air. Raging Thunder 2 also gets the nod in terms of control... once again close, but Raging Thunder seems to give more of a visual clue when it detects that I'm turning giving me a bit more comfort with the controls. These games are close and Asphalt 5 earns 5/5 stars, but if I had to choose one or the other I'd go with Raging Thunder 2. The biggie is the freezes during game play which, while infrequent, were enough to be a nuisance plus Raging Thunder 2 is about a dollar (US) cheaper, but you won't go wrong with either of these quality titles and hardcore racing fans will want both.

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