I love arcade racers. I prefer the enjoyment and thrill of an arcade racing game to the sheer frustration and ridiculously sensitive nature of a simulation racing game. Blur, Burnout, Mario Kart, ModNation…arcade and kart racers are my racing bread and butter. That’s why a game like Asphalt: Injection was such a welcome addition to my launch lineup for the PlayStation Vita. It’s also why a game like Asphalt: Injection was such a disappointing addition to my launch lineup for the PlayStation Vita.
As far as its racing mechanics are concerned, Asphalt: Injection is an arcade racer, and allows you to race. The basic functionality of a racer exists: acceleration, braking, drifting, boosting, etc. Beyond the basic functionality, this game has absolutely no finesse to it. Drifting is clunky and poorly controlled. Without a handbrake to fine tune your drifting control, tapping the brake turns you sideways and runs you right into a wall. In much the same way, the graphics lack the finesse and sharpness that the Vita is capable of.
Gameloft, a mobile game development company started by Ubisoft’s founders, is capable of making some very pretty iOS games. Asphalt: Injection on the PlayStation Vita is just that: a pretty iOS game. On a smaller screen, and on weaker hardware, Asphalt is a good looking series. On the Vita’s super bright and sharp OLED screen, Asphalt: Injection becomes pixelated and rough. While the colors are vibrant, and the reflection effects are nice, the canvas that the colors are laying on is not fit for the Vita’s screen. The only really interesting visual aspect of the game comes from the FPS style garage. When you enter your garage, you take first person control of the view and are able to move around through a physical 3D garage to look at all of your vehicles on display. Unfortunately, you can’t do much more than look at them as they sit there; no 3D model, no vehicle specs, no additional detail whatsoever, all of which turn a potentially interesting feature into another disappointment.
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Asphalt: Injection, to its credit, does offer a long, full career mode. The career mode offers 20 race series, with each series containing multiple races of varying race types (Normal, Elimination, Time Attack, Duel, Under Pressure, Beat em All, Collector, Drift, Urban Destruction, Cop Chase). The first race series is automatically unlocked, while the rest are unlocked by stars earned in earlier career mode races. On top of the strong career mode, Asphalt: Injection provides both ad hoc and true online multiplayer. Online multiplayer can handle up to 8 players, with the option to fill a lobby with AI players if you want a full race but don’t have enough people available.
I had been looking forward to the title because it seemed like it could make the transition from mobile platforms to the Vita and bring a decent arcade racer to the launch lineup. This is, unfortunately, not really the case. Asphalt: Injection does give you more than its iOS brethren, but at $29.99 on the Vita, it does so at nearly 30 times the price. If you’re desperate for a visually acceptable racer, this may be the best option you have at the moment, but if you can live without, you probably should. If the graphics don’t really matter, and you want a basic mobile arcade racer to play on the go or online, then yeah, this will probably fit the bill.
|Good career mode|
Interesting FPS style garage for viewing cars
Online multiplayer (beyond ad hoc)
|Visually very disappointing|
Awful drift mechanic
Fairly arbitrary vehicle destruction