Driving games for the N-Gage platform are few and far between, but with the release of Asphalt Urban GT all this is about to change. This is the first street racer game developed by the successful Gameloft development company and with films such as the ‘Fast and the Furious’ fuelling the popularity of high speed racing and car tuning is sure to be one of the biggest and most welcomed N-gage titles of the year.
Asphalt Urban GT makes no effort to recreate an actual driving experience and instead opts for a more realistic representation of an old style Arcade racing game. It is rare that you will need to slow down to often even when you are powering around tight hairpins and your only real concern is when to utilize the all important nitro boost.
The game itself has 6 different single player modes:
- Free race: This consists of competing against computer opponents in three laps around New York or Paris whilst dodging on-coming traffic along the way.
- Instant play: This is the basic arcade mode where you must battle against the clock. There are no opponents or on-coming traffic.
- Time Attack: In this mode you just keep on completing laps whilst constantly trying to improve on your previous lap times.
- Road Challenge: In this mode you must compete in three races on the podium to be become champion.
- Cop Chase: In this mode you play the part of the cop in pursuit of a criminal trying to escape justice.
Evolution: This is the championship mode where you must compete and win in different races to earn money. The money that you will earn enables you to buy a bigger and better car which then qualifies you to compete in different class races. You are also able to fully customize your cars by buying upgrades such as new turbo kits, exhaust and air intakes, Engine blocks, suspension, tyres, weight, paint jobs and new body work. There are over 20 brands of cars available in Asphalt Urban GT including Ford, VW, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Audi and Lamborghini.
A beautiful aspect of this game is that each different car handles and feels different which is an important feature that is often overlooked, Gameloft have made a wonderful job of this and so when you’re racing with a 4x4 you really do feel like you are racing with a 4x4.
Asphalt Urban GT features three different selectable camera modes: first person and two different scales of third person views. It also features an all important rear view mirror view so you can see what is approaching from behind. This is controlled by the ‘directional down button’.
The games controls are very minimal and simple, there is an accelerator which is controlled by the ‘5’ key, a brake which is controlled by the ‘7’ key, a Nitro booster button that is controlled by the ‘2’ key and finally a pointless but novel horn which is controlled by the ‘6’ key. Due to the simple nature of the controls I would estimate that the learning curve for this game is very low and would be suited to gamers of all ages.
A nice feature the game hosts is the ability to utilize certain objects as ramps; the most noticeable being a car carrier that is driving around the courses. Hit this right and suddenly the game goes in to movie mode where the camera angle swaps to the front of the flying car. This is a great feature and really reminds me of the GTA games. Probably the most noticeable and exceptional aspect of the gameplay is Asphalt Urban GT’s ability to capture a real sense of speed and I am glad to say it does this very well indeed.
The graphics are where this game really stands out and you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in fact playing a Play Station game. The game is full of vibrant colours and features some lovely car animations which are reasonably smooth and very accurate to the original car manufacturer designs. The levels themselves are well crafted and detailed but unfortunately I would say that they are slightly over textured causing the game levels to lack depth which is not ideal for a racing game. However any gamer can soon overcome this with a little knowledge of the course layouts.
The soundtrack for Asphalt Urban GT is spectacular with the most impressive part of it being the in-game effects. Realistic tyre screeching as your backend spins out; engine roars that not only sound of great super charged engines but also have clear definition between the different models of cars.
The music is fairly impressive due to the fact that you have the facility of a juke box this means that you are able to select from up to 8 different pieces of music quickly and easily whilst playing the game. Thankfully the game has the option of controlling the FX and music volumes separately so if you find the music too unbearable you will not have to compromise on the outstanding in-game effects.
The features are fairly limited but it contains a lovely replay mode which obviously as the name suggests replays your laps from different camera angles which is a nice and well needed standard feature. Asphalt Urban GT does include a single level Bluetooth race. There are little words to describe this because in my eyes a racing game especially a slightly quirky one like this one is designed to be played two player, So take a superb game like Asphalt Urban GT and give it multiplayer via wireless Bluetooth support and you have one of the best two player games ever made for the N-Gage device. Nuff said….
In my opinion this is definitely one of the best N-Gage games available and it would be fair to say that Asphalt Urban GT would be the best apart from the small issue of the depth or lack of it. However having said this; once you begin to play this game you will quickly forget about any of the issues and niggles I’ve mentioned because this really is an amazingly fantastic game…Well done Nokia!
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