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Even with its limited control capabilities, the iPhone seems to have become the platform of choice for a lot of racing games. One of the latest racers to appear in the App Store is Asphalt 5. Given the relatively high price for this game ($6.99) and the success of its predecessor, Asphalt 4, I certainly had high expectations for this racer.
After having played the game quite extensively, I'll review Asphalt 5 in three separate categories: gameplay, graphics, and miscellaneous. The last category encompasses any aspects of the game, such as sound or multiplayer, that don't fit in with the other categories.
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Simply put, Asphalt 5's gameplay is truly extraordinary. From the intro video to the feel of the cars, the developers at Gameloft have clearly taken quite a bit of time to create an amazing experience.
The most impressive aspect of Asphalt 5 is the car selection. At the beginning of the game, you'll only have the Mini Cooper S and Nissan 370Z available. Playing through the career mode will unlock over 30 different vehicles, including popular cars such as the Camaro and the Mercedes SL65 AMG. For variation, Gameloft even included some motorcycles and SUVs as well.
Racing these cars in Asphalt 5 is absolutely amazing. The cars feel about as realistic as can be expected for an iPhone game. Unlike many other games, the tilt levels and other controls feel perfect. You won't ever find instances when the iPhone tilt doesn't seem to match the car movements. The actual racing itself feels very fast and definitely gets the adrenaline pumping at times.
There are a total of 12 different tracks available in the game. The developers have included courses from Aspen to Hawaii. To start, two tracks (Aspen and Saint Tropez) are available. As you progress through career mode, you'll progressively unlock additional courses.
Yet, even with all this variety included, Gameloft still manages to provide even more fun by having 8 different racing modes that you'll encounter while progressing through your career. Having such a wide variety makes career mode much more exciting than just doing the same regular racing over and over again.
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Asphalt 5 feels like a good iPhone show-off game as the graphics feel similar to what the PSP is capable of producing. The car models all look amazing and the tracks are surprisingly detailed given the small screen resolution of the iPhone. Each track has terrific lighting so the cars and tracks always look very vivid.
While certainly not the most critical of areas, the menu also looks quite good. You'll very rarely be confused by any of the options. This means that performing any action, such as selecting a car or changing the controls, are an absolute breeze in Asphalt 5. The developers at Gameloft have produced grade A, studio-quality work.
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The sound in Asphalt 5 feels about average, although sound in a typical racing game isn't usually really varied or intense. When turbo is used, there's a really nice screeching sound that occurs as the car accelerates. The background music consists simply of a cool beat and is a little reminiscent of Ridge Racer.
As for network capabilities, you can play locally on online with up to six players. Having five other competitors can make the races much more fun. Admittedly, I would have liked to see even more people allowed in one race although I think I might just be getting a little too greedy here.
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It should be clear by now to anyone reading this review that I'm thoroughly impressed with Asphalt 5. Gameloft has truly created a masterpiece that sets the bar for all other racing games. For $6.99, it's an absolute steal when you consider what you actually get for your money: 12 different tracks, over 30 different cars, 8 different racing modes, and multiplayer!
Even given its relatively high price, there are very few games that provide quite as much bang for the buck. Most other professional studios are charging $9.99 for games that are of mediocre quality. Gameloft could have charged much, much more and still received my hearty recommendation.
All in all, this game deserves a 9.5/10.