Many of us thought that racing games peaked in terms of performance with the previous installment of the series, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline. That’s a huge misjudgement when compared to this incredible racer. Games like Real Racing 2 and it’s predecessor have now got some serious competition graphically.
Asphalt 7: Heat is the newest instalment in the Asphalt series that has made a name for itself on the iOS platform. It has fast-paced and graphically intense gameplay that will keep you constantly at the edge of your seat. Let’s take a look further into this awesome racer.
Upon opening the game, you’ll be presented with a pretty splash screen just like in the last game accompanied by an upbeat tune.
One step further gives you the main menu that allows you to make one of three main selections to play: Career, Quick Play and Multiplayer. At the top you can access the shop where you can purchase cars and upgrade them how you please. The fastest vehicle on offer is the infamous Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
You can race in the career mode to accumulate more stars, money and rep. Your rep is gaged in levels, and every level you get additional stars and money. The more stars you have, the more events and cars are available to purchase and enter, which will consequently earn you even more of the game’s currencies.
You can purchase more Asphalt dollars and stars with real cash; 400 stars come with a whopping price tag of £70! I’m not too sure why there’s an option to buy so many stars, as you can perfectly well unlock everything through just playing through the game — and that’s probably more enjoyable too.
Something that has changed from Adrenaline is that instead of event specific goals, you have a set of three current goals that change every time you unlock one. I’m personally not the biggest fan of this, as let’s say during your first race you manage to drift 1,500 metres. Annoyingly, the drift 1,000 metres in one race goal is about the 7th or 8th one you unlock over time, so you may never be able to drift like that again.
I have sometimes done excellent in a race, but all my goals are trivial ones such as change the paint colour of your car and purchase your first upgrade, which is quite frustrating when the next ones were things such as boost 10 times and collect 20 pickups. Each goal gives you one star when completed.
Cars are classified into tiers based on performance ranging from one to seven. You use cars from different tiers depending on the cup you’re racing in. A great new feature with Heat is that you have the option to pay a small fee to rent a car for a single event, meaning if you really can’t cut racing against a Ferrari Enzo with your Range Rover, you can simply rent out, let’s say, a Lamborghini Aventador. That should solve your problems.
Like in Adrenaline, certain cars will be available for certain events alone. this is a pretty neat feature being able to preview the power you’ll be able to access later on on the game. Giving players a quick feeling of domination and then retrieving it is a good tactic to draw players back in for more.
You also have the option to be able to get a little bonus from a sponsor for varied prices before an event if you need that little extra push to get you to the top.
On the Quick Play mode, you can choose your type of event (Elimination, Beat ‘Em All, Etc.) then mix and match with any location and vehicle class. There’s even a spinner for those who really don’t have the decision making ability to decide what to do. Difficulty is also adjustable.
The Third and final playing option is to engage in multiplayer mode, online or offline, with up to four other players. This can be great fun if you have mates who also have the game (they really should at $0.99) and the online playability really extends the life of this game tremendously.
Not everyone is a fan of the steering wheel-style controlling of the cars, however I got to grips with the controls within the first race I played. The AI are very kindly in the first few cups, as being a newcomer, I was still able to attain three stars in every event.
In terms of controls, the default accelerometer scheme is probably the best one to use, with tapping on the left activating the brakes and tapping on the right activating nitro, however players can opt for tap steering or manual control over brakes and gas if you’re that kind of racer.
The drifting is good but a little hypersensitive; I found myself intentionally avoiding drifting around tight corners in fear of throwing myself completely off balance. One more thing I din’t like was that while I was cruising down the highway of Shanghai in my Veyron, at speeds well over 300 km/h, I didn’t really feel like I was doing the speeds I was. I guess that could make turning a little tricky, but I really think you should feel fast while driving fast.
The gas includes 15 tracks spread across the entire world, and they all look breathtaking. I have found myself watching the introductions to races a bit more just to appreciate every little detail and afterthought, something I didn’t really do in Adrenaline. The fireworks over the Big Ben look superb, by the way.
The whole game is just graphically superb, especially with the Retina display. Little afterthoughts that looked all pixelated on Asphalt 6 look much better now; no longer must I drive flanked by palm trees that could easily have been a part of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Mega Drive.
The navigation is basic, minimalist and looks great, too. The approach is more gameplay orientated, with very few touches getting you straight into the action.
Asphalt Tracker is the games imitation of Need For Speed’s Autolog (no surprise there, Gameloft!). While not particularly in-depth, it tracks your entire racing career and allows you to challenge your friends to beat your records.
The awkward thing about Heat is the push to include social networking. You can connect to the Asphalt Tracker through Facebook or Microsoft Live and send messages to your friends. Why? A game like this doesn’t need a poor attempt at a mini-racing social network, which I don’t really think people will use, to spoil all the Asphalt goodness.
While it still has the same core gameplay as Asphalt 6, the aesthetics of the whole game have improved tremendously and there are a few extra feats which do make the gameplay a little richer. At $0.99, this is the steal of the century.