Last year, Real Racing blew us away with how well it managed to bring simulation racing to the iPhone. However, for those of us who prefer our racing games to be as crazy as possible rather than realistic, a clear front runner has not yet emerged.
The first Raging Thunder from Polarbit was a quality first step with some small issues that kept it from totally dominating the genre. Those hoping its sequel will do this will be similarly disappointed. Instead, Raging Thunder 2 maintains the decently high standards for games of its type.
When playing Raging Thunder 2, those familiar with arcade racing games may be most reminded of Namco’s Ridge Racer series. Up to six cars are driven around expansive and colorful yet realistic tracks in a way that would probably kill you in real life. Checkpoints are placed to keep you from lagging too far behind, and long jumps as well as drifts or even full 360s are rewarded. It is a familiar experience that continues to live on, since it’s highly doubtful that going insanely fast will ever stop being fun.
To the lighthouse!
Crucial to that fun is the sense of speed, and Raging Thunder 2′s engine mostly holds up throughout play. Like in the first game, courses are large with lots of detail and the other graphical flourishes like fire and smoke. There are only a handful of cars to unlock, but at least their models and stats are quite varied. Combined with slick menus and music that at least isn’t distracting, Raging Thunder 2 will not disappoint with its presentation.
It also offers plenty of content. Single-player has many modes for you to explore, including campaign, time trial, and elimination. Mastering each will take you some time, but not because they are particularly long. Instead, like in the first game, the level of difficulty found in some of these modes highlights the looseness of the controls.
In a game with boost power-ups and an actual ‘drift button’, we are not asking for the tightest controls in the world. But when constantly having to re-center yourself costs you a race, something is not right. By default, the game auto-accelerates like a recalled Toyota, but there are plenty of control options including manual gas, brake, and the ability to view onscreen how far you are tilting the device. However, none of these fix the core problem of the controls feeling just a tad too loose.
Warp speed. Make it so.
It took the first Raging Thunder two months to receive a multiplayer update, but luckily this game trumps its predecessor by launching with this functionality. After creating a profile, you can jump right into a game on one of several severs, not just Polarbit’s. You can chat in the lobby to pass the time, but you may not need to, as games start rather quickly. Races themselves also have noticeably fewer latency issues than before. Overall, multiplayer is a much better experience this time around.
The App Store has no shortage of arcade racing games like Raging Thunder 2. Plus, the original is now two dollars and although this is a superior game, you can argue whether or not it is three dollars’ worth of improvements. But if you’re in the mood for a fine, quick racing game, the sheer enjoyment you will get from blazing around corners against computer or online opponents may be enough to overshadow the problems you will encounter with the controls. Raging Thunder 2 is a safe bet.