Updated: Asphalt 5 Review

We’ve spent some time with Asphalt 5’s retuned Cop Chase mode, and while it’s a big improvement over the nearly impossible previous version, it’s not quite enough to bump the game up to Must Have status. Here’s why.

The only change in this new version is to the Cop Chase mode, which thankfully requires fewer eliminations to complete now. Also, we think that enemies go down a little easier, and don’t try to keep as much distance from you when you’re gunning for them. Cop Chase mode now returns to a pleasant variation on the racing formula, instead of an exercise in frustration. Thanks for that!

As far as the rest of the game goes, it’s still an over-the-top, incredibly bouncy racer that plays a bit more like JellyCar than Real Racer. While we like arcade racers a lot, these cars don’t seem to have any real weight or power behind them, even though they look great on the road and in the garage. Our other minor complaints, like having to tediously re-buy every vehicle upgrade for each new car, still stand.

Asphalt 5 is a good buy if you’re looking for fast and mindless racing fun. However, beyond slamming on the nitro boosts and aiming for the powerups, there’s not a lot of thought required to operating these vehicles. A bit more strategy or finesse would go a long way towards improving the overall Asphalt formula for next time.

For some reason, nitro boosts don’t seem to come standard anymore. Also, we don’t recall ever bouncing off of a restaurant patio or iron railing like our car was made of flubber. Despite its wacky physics and some awfully unbalanced Elimination rounds, Asphalt 5 is a pretty good arcade racer that might hold its own against the next Need for Speed game, especially with some tweaks.

The things we loved about Asphalt 4 are all back: You’ve got a dozen locations, each with four different events. These can include normal races, one-on-one duels, and races where the real goal is to power-slide a lot, or rack up money by causing damage or driving dangerously close to traffic. We had fun with these modes, especially since the tilt controls are spot-on and the excellent graphics fly by at a nice frame rate. Asphalt 5 looks much, much nicer than Asphalt 4.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

However, we stalled when it came to the Elimination modes. Unlike in Asphalt 4, it’s now too tough to knock out an opponent’s car, and they’ll stay the heck away from you when you come charging. You often have to get seven knockouts in three laps, and most of the time it’s a struggle just to get within striking distance. In Asphalt 4, racking up eliminations was like knocking down pins with a bowling ball, but here, it’s terribly frustrating.

After beating every other mode that was available to us, we were forced to play these Elimination rounds to unlock the rest of the game. With as much variety as Asphalt 5 contains, you shouldn’t be forced to beat just one type of race to advance, but that’s exactly what happened. We have trouble imagining expert racing fans perfecting the art of the Asphalt 5 takedown, and casual gamers will definitely feel cheated by the difficulty.

Watch out, donorcycle!

The rest of our complaints about Asphalt 5 are minor. The female companions you gain access to are now real-life models, who coo at the camera while standing in front of a cheesy green-screen and CG car. It feels a bit juvenile, even for a racing videogame. Asphalt 5 also has no rear-view mirror for tracking your foes. Plus, when you’re tuning up your new cars, you have to individually select each component every time, when a “buy all” option would have made more sense.

We can forgive Asphalt 5’s super bouncy, mega-arcadey physics. After all, we liked that about the last one. And the graphics are simply gorgeous this time around. But the overwhelming difficulty for just one type of mode (when the others are not too challenging at all) threw us off. There’s a lot of fun to be had in here if you can figure out the trick to beating the Elimination events, but we just worry that not enough players will get to enjoy the entire game.

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