Asphalt 5 in Review – full throttle, 5-star racing


Fast, gaudy, and ultimately, cliffhanger, Asphalt 5 proves that Gameloft’s progenitive grasp on the racing genre hasn’t slowed down. Purist racing sim fans may take issue with its arcady, over-the-top racing engine, but if I may be so bold, I would like to declare Asphalt 5 the series’ best game, and a technological marvel for the iDevice. Racing on this platform has never been this fun, nor looked this good.

Last year’s Elite Racing did many things right: fun gameplay, decent physics, and sported an easy-to-learn driving engine. But Gameloft didn’t throttle its arcade advantage as much as they could have. Asphalt 5 on the other hand, boasts short-cuts, off-the-charts jumps, crashes, and the insane sort of gameplay which reminds players that arcade racers more than anything, are all about fun.

Still, Asphalt is grounded in parts; its menu system which was nearly perfect in 2008, hasn’t really changed. It still smacks of simplicity, ease of use, and pairs excellently with the touch-screen of the iDevice. You can customise anything from your car to sound and camera angles, as well as get on quite easily with any of the three game-play modes: single race, career, and online. Asphalt 5 also allow you to tear through your iTunes collection whilst playing — an Alpine endorsed affair — for truly poppin’ gaming. Yeah, Gameloft’s shift into audio gear six should be a benchmark for future racers, and a reminder to the competition of what can be done.


Of course, things look really hot. Asphalt 5 retains the bright, cheery, and somewhat cartoony look of its predecessor, but certain variables such as the road, environment, and cars look flat-out better. Gameloft also left out the plastic-wrapped, shiny graphics of its closest competitor: Need for Speed Undercover, and pushed draw distances out to Kansas. For detail-lovers, cars leer sidewise with the force of gravity, cast thick shadows, and reflect the environment — speaking of which: snowflakes, rain, and hot sun effects are full on ’nuff said’ sort of amazing. Asphalt 5 also lets you choose from 3 camera angles: close, far, and bumper – here is my personal opinion: while each are very good, the wide-angle bumper cam is perfect, bettering everything at the App Store. But all of it takes a toll; whereas NFSU ran perfectly on my iPod touch 2G (the former FPS king), Asphalt 5 ain’t that smooth. It jerks at times and in general, suffers at less-than 30 frames per second. Of course, iPod touch 3G and iPhone 3GS users should experience much smoother game-play.


Asphalt 5 will have you running paces in Career mode to unlock better cars, hotter girls, and more racetracks. If you do well enough, you can also upgrade your cheapo Cooper Mini to burn the rubber off more expensive buggies, but it is hard. Last year’s Asphalt could be beaten even when half-drunk, but not this time – you will be challenged from the very beginning. In particular, cop-chases are nearly impossible unless you devote a hell of a lot more time than should be necessary to perfecting your stear-and-bump skills. Actually, I should clarify a little: cop-chase are the bloody bane to this otherwise great game. Even though controls are amazing, there is simply no way around the difficult cop-game. Still, this time around, Gameloft have tweaked the game to near-perfection, and Asphalt 5 simply trumps the rail-steering system of Need for Speed with great 100% user-controlled input.

Online play really extends this game’s 6.99$ price tag. It is quite good and users can sample any car and any track — something they might not get to do otherwise because of the nearly impossible cop-chase scenes –, chat, make friends, and compete to their hearts’ delight. And yup, you guessed it, online users are good. I spent the better part of mine and my wife’s coffee trying to get anything better than 3rd place among my peers today, and the last few days were no better. I really enjoy online play – perhaps too much: my battery runs down madly – something easily remedied by hauling my mains adaptor to the coffee shop where I fiendishly syphon caffeine and WiFi in a buzzed, distorted reality.


There isn’t a real down-side to Asphalt 5: it does nearly everything well, and completely knocks the socks off of Need for Speed as an arcade racer. It is simply more realistic from controls to its gaudy graphics. And it works online. Gameloft have tuned everything to near perfection, but something needs to be done about the cop-chase which is insanely difficult. Still, I can hardly fathom a better game to devote the rest of one’s adult life learning to perfect: Asphalt 5 has all four wheels on the ground for a sloppy KISS from this race-queen.


App Summary
Title: Asphalt 5 (V 1.10) Developer: Gameloft
Price: $6.99 App Size: 245 MB
  • Great menu system
  • Smashing graphics; great draw distances
  • Arcade upgrades, powerups, jumps, gizmos, etc.
  • Good sound effects
  • Wonderful controls
  • Online play works great and is fun
  • Performance unfit for older iDevice versions
  • Too difficult


Check out our racing game section for more Vroom Vroom.
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