It’s another year, another summer, and just like a summer blockbuster movie, it’s time for another entry in Gameloft’s venerable racing series, Asphalt. It’s easy to get cynical as this would be the eighth game in the series, and after part seven I was starting to think that this franchise was getting a little too long in the tooth. Thankfully Gameloft seems to have realized that as well and has added enough new and fun elements to justify keeping the series going.
So if you’ve ever played an Asphalt game then you have a pretty good idea as to what you’re going to be getting, at least initially. You race fast, exotic cars around fast tracks in energetic, colorful and beautiful cities around the world. That part hasn’t changed. And if that was all part eight had to offer then there honestly wouldn’t be a reason to recommend it. But Gameloft has added some new mechanics and modes that actually make the game a heck of a lot of fun to play.
The first and most obvious upgrade would be, as the subtitle suggests, your ability to do some crazy, ridiculous and fairly reckless leaps through the stratosphere. Every level has ramps littered around the raceway that will launch you into the air to do things that would make Fast and Furious directors jealous: Barrel rolls, corkscrews, aerial spin-outs, and occasional moments that have you flopping all over the clouds like a fish out of water. Asphalt 8 will have you reaching heights you have yet to see in a racer for iOS. You’ll jump over bridges, through different levels of unfinished highways, over small mountains, and just generally do things that will have you wondering just how on Earth you’re actually living through any of this. The death-defying antics alone make this game the most fun I’ve had with a racer since Sonic & Sega All-Stars.
There’s so much content and different kinds of races here that you’ll rarely be bored. There are regular races, elimination matches, knockdown races, and two new modes called Drift and Infected. Drift mode is fun, but I was absolutely terrible at it. Infected is an incredible blast. In Infected mode one car is “infected” with a virus that apparently affects cars, and it’s your job to drive your ghostly, green glowing car to try and infect as many other cars as possible. It’s tough to master, but a lot of fun to play.
The exciting and fantastical elements to Asphalt 8 are really what set it apart and make it so much fun to play and are the reasons that I kept coming back trying to beat my previous scores.
Asphalt 8 is also the best looking game in the series and finally has a somewhat decent damage system and much improved collision detection. It also has one of the best soundtracks in a videogame this side of a Grand Theft Auto game. It’s so good that I actually ran the game through AirPlay on my computer so I could blast it through my Bose speakers. Thankfully my neighbors weren’t home.
Just when I was starting to lose faith in the Asphalt series (I wholeheartedly agree with our review of part seven), Gameloft went and gave me a reason to believe again. If you’re a arcade racing fan then there’s absolutely no reason for you to not be playing this. The in-app purchases are only annoying if you’re impatient, and every aspect in the game (even the redundant ones) are a step up. This is one you’ll be playing again and again for at least another year.