Asphalt 8: Airborne is Gameloft’s latest sequel for the very popular Asphalt series that started back at 2004. but this one has a new element – you go airborne that let’s you do tricks which adds to the excitement of the game.
– great graphics
– lots of car customization options
– multiple control schemes
– tons of cars and tracks to unlock and explore
– car upgrades can get expensive too quickly
– main menu a little confusing (especially for first time Asphalt players)
Throughout the Asphalt series, Gameloft has maintained the game’s core formula as a lightning-fast arcade racer full of knockdowns, turbo boosts, and drifting at insane speeds. With Asphalt 8, they’ve taken that formula and turned it up a notch adding a few key features that put the previous entries in the series to shame.
If EA’s Real Racing has a dedication to authentic race car driving, then the Asphalt series could justifiably be called “Unreal Racing.” From the city and country tracks populated with traffic, to the unbelievable Nitro boost system, to the titular aerial stunts, Asphalt 8 wants to be nothing more than a flat-out arcade fantasy. It shares its fast and furious style with the various console racers it apes, none more so than Criterion’s Burnout series.
A lot of the fun comes from the jumps and multi-leveled nature of the stages, which you might have guessed from the title. Indeed, you’ll spend a lot of time airborne, gaining speed and distance. This serves to add Nitro boost to your meter, and you can get even more by flat-spinning or barrel rolling. Get the drift and the timing just right, and you can completely refill your boost in a single jump. Speaking of boost, it’s got a unique double activation mechanic. Press the boost button once to go faster, or twice to go much faster, but for a shorter duration. Time it right and you’ll get a tertiary boost as well. It adds an interesting bit of strategy to the white-knuckle racing, and mastering this mechanic will be the difference between failure and victory in many races.
One thing’s for sure, it certainly isn’t short of content. There are 8 seasons to race through, featuring a total of 180 races. You’ve got 47 licensed cars to purchase and upgrade. Game modes range from standard races and eliminations, to drifts challenges and a zombie-style infected mode. The tracks themselves often branch off in numerous directions, offering you several alternative routes to the finish line.
Both the tilt and touch control options put you confidently in command of your vehicle. Though the drifting isn’t quite as smooth as in other arcade racers, the triple-tap boost – which gives you three tiers of nitrous boost – is incredibly satisfying to use. Timing precisely when to open the nitrous tanks is often the key to victory. Challenges are rarely a walk in the park, and you’ll often find yourself scrapping for first right up to the chequered flag.
Likewise, deciding when to upgrade your existing ride and when to purchase a better one requires thought too. If you want to unlock seasons without spending any real money (and you really don’t have) you must invest wisely, and make sure you grab all 5 stars from every race. Things get pretty tough towards the end, but races are rarely anything but a blast. Even when you’re repeating challenges, you’ll discover a new sidestreet or pull off an even better stunt, and you’ll find excitement coursing through your body once again.
The Verdict: 8.5/10
It is important to note that arcade racers like this one differ from simulations like the Real Racing franchise, so don’t expect real-world physics and controls. This type of racer is meant to be much more fast-paced and entertaining than simlulations, so racing purists might want to look elsewhere.
With that said, Asphalt 8 is still a lot of fun. Well worth the asking price but you’ll have to fight the urge to spend your money for extra upgrades.
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