Asphalt 8: Airborne Hands-On Preview

It’s easy to criticize Gameloft for pumping out sequels as quickly as they do. The easy armchair analysis would argue the short time between sequels slows the innovation curve. True or not, there’s an argument on both sides of the fence. Where there is no argument is in Asphalt 8: Airbourne is legitimate effort to not retread the past. Even Gameloft’s most bitter critics will have to tip their cap for what’s coming this time around.

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Asphalt 8: Airbourne mixes in the usual arcade racing with an emphasis on jumps, barrel rolls, and other stunts powered by a brand new physics engine. Gameloft referenced the goal of implementing physics was to remove canned and predictable racing. Depending on how a ramp is hit, corner is maneuvered, or drift is triggered, the car should accurately respond to the situation. In the cars I saw, the results are looking solid though deeper play-testing will ultimately decide how much physics change the game.

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On the features side, Asphalt 8: Airborne is packed with stuff to do. I’m told roughly 80% of the 47 cars are brand new, and from what I’ve seen, there are some slick exotic concept cars that I would ever touch, much less drive in real life. Racing tracks are flexing greater diversity than ever before, with locales in the Iceland and French Guiana, of all places. Loops and ramps are generously placed throughout, giving you lots of choices for stunting for nitrous boost.

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No doubt inspired by the world’s sudden fascination in zombies, Asphalt 8: Airborne brings in a new Infected racing variant. Similar to Eliminator-style play where timers constantly eliminate the last car in the race, being the last car in this mode turns you in a diseased car that can only stay competing by running into other cars. An additional mode thrown in for good measure is Drift Gate, a style over substance competition to rack up points for maintaining your drift.

Asphalt 7: Heat was loaded on multiplayer, and the trend continues here. Online and local play will be available along with earning badges, leaderboard ranks, and asynchronous ghost racing. Asphalt 8: Airbourne is in the final stages of development and is set to drop in around July.

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