Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Multiplayer: Local Versus/Co-Op Play 2-6 Players
Playable in 2D or 3D
Another DS system has been released and this time it has brought something new to the level with a 3D screen to add a lot more to the gameplay experience. Asphalt 3D, from Ubisoft, is one of the new racers that launched with the Nintendo 3DS to help show off the machines 3D capabilities and hopefully a game that makes is a great portable racer.
When comparing any of the titles for the 3DS to other handhelds in the DS family there is an obvious improvement in how everything looks right down to smallest detail. Asphalt 3D is a beautiful looking game that shows off the hardware improvements quite well. Detailed landscapes backdrop the race tracks from 17 different locations across the world that include Aspen, Berlin, Cape Town, New York, Paris, Saint Tropez and Tokyo to name a few.
The cars themselves look pretty sharp and boast quite a bit detail, of course they don’t look as great any cars found on the bigger home consoles, but it is still really impressive what has been accomplished. The vehicles available range across several brands and each brand has several different types of cars available that are unlocked as your driver level increases. Some of my personal favourites have to be the Ford Shelby GT and just about any of the Lamborghini’s as they are beautiful in any design.
There is one complaint I do have about the presentation of the game and it is during the gameplay animations while driving in opposing traffic. In some races you will encounter traffic because you are racing during the streets; however, when you get up to top speeds you don’t see the opposing traffic coming until it is too late to get out of the way. I found that this could be very frustrating.
As for the 3D immersion I honestly preferred to play the game in 2D because as cool as the 3D is to play in I did find it a bit distracting and took away from my gameplay experience. That being said, it is all down to personal preference and I really have to commend the development team on how well the 3D does look, especially when you’re going down a straightaway and you get to that sweet spot that makes it feel like you’re sitting in a car, although a tiny one. Overall, the visuals in Asphalt 3D are great for a launch title on the 3DS.
The screech of burning rubber, the sound of engines revving, and the crunch of metal against metal as you hit a car in a head on head collision, these sounds combined with some fast paced electronic rock music sum up the overall sound of Asphalt 3D. There is a bit a variety of music to change it up a bit, but for the most part it sounds fairly alike if you’re not paying too much attention. The sound effects do have a bit more to it with horns honking, a zap sound when you pick up a power up, nitrous burning in the air as you boost, and the car engine sounds differing from car to car. There is a bit of voice work as you scroll through your cars and the female announcer tells you the name of the vehicle, or when you are beginning a race she will announce where you are and describe the area and race track a bit before counting down to start off the race. Overall the sound and music does not really offer anything wonderful to enhance the game to another level and does the bare minimum to round out the title. Essentially, it’s generic and offers nothing special to boast about.
Asphalt 3D is a typical racing game with a variety of racing options: Career Mode, Free Race and Multiplayer. Along with the basic racing options there is large garage of cars for you unlock throughout the game, along with 17 different tracks and even some car parts that you can use to upgrade your unlocked cars.
The controls are to be expected with acceleration, brakes, and boost buttons. The 3DS also allows you to use the thumb pad or the d-pad to control your vehicle. The d-pad works well, but using the thumb pad makes the control feel a lot more fluid, natural, and a whole lot easier to use. The controls can get a bit finicky though depending on the car you’re using so there is a learning curve with each vehicle, but it doesn’t take too long to get used to. The gameplay takes place on the top screen where your speed, boost gauge, lap number, and position are displayed in the HUD. On the bottom screen is the map of the track along with a GPS showing where you are in comparison to your opponents.
Career Mode is where you progress through the 14 different leagues where there are eight different game types that you will encounter:
• Race: Traditional racing format where you race to be in the top three to progress.
• Time Trial: Race against the clock to finish before time runs out.
• Leader of the Pack: The goal here is to never be in last place, if you’re in last place by the time a lap finishes you are eliminated from the race. Stay in the lead and you will come out on top.
• High-Speed Chase: Race away from the police as they try to bust you, get busted too many times and you lose.
• Vigilante: Take down a group of racers by bumping them into walls, other cars or into buildings before completing the race to come out on top for the win.
• Cash Attack: Make as much many as you can by drifting, performing takedowns, finding shortcuts, and destroying objects to take the win.
• Drift: This is a race mode where you have to drift as much as possible while still trying to come in first place.
• Duel: Duel is just like race, but this time you only have one opponent to worry about.
That is the quite of variety of game types that you can play through. As you do so you will earn cash and experience that increases your driving level. As your driving level increases you will unlock new cars, parts, decals and sponsors. This is where the cash you have earned comes in handy as you have to pay for the unlocked items.
There is a large variety of cars available to purchase from 22 different manufacturers that include the likes of Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and McLaren to name a few. Each vehicle has its own pros and cons so study the details of each vehicle and make the best choice or if you have a lot of in game cash – go ahead and buy them all.
Car upgrades are unlocked as your driver level increases and are available for your Engine, Handling, and Boost. Upgrades can increase your cars Acceleration, Brake, Handling, Top Speed, Nitro Capacity and Boost Speed and they all depend on the part you’re purchasing. Each upgrade category has their unique parts in how they are upgraded.
• Engine Upgrades are broken down into four types of ECU, Intake, Exhaust and Turbo.
• Handling Upgrades are broken down into Suspension, Brake, Weight and Tire.
• Boost Upgrades work a bit differently and will either increase your Nitro Capacity or Boost Speed.
Each of these car upgrades has to be purchased individually for each car, but on the bright side as you progress up the driver levels you only have to buy the best upgrades as the parts don’t add on cumulatively. Along with the upgrades are paint and decals so that you can choose your car’s colour as well as deck it out with some cool decals to give it a personal touch. All the colours are available from the get go, but decals unlock for purchase as you increase in driver level.
Finally, you can earn sponsors by increasing your driver level, and you have eight different ones to choose from. The advantage of having a sponsor is the perks that you receive from them including a bonus to your cars performance, cash bonuses, and even a reduction in police fines.
Free Race lets you play any of the cars and tracks that you have unlocked in your Career Mode play them in Race, Vigilante or High Speed Chase. Here you can hone your skills or let a friend try the game out without playing your career. On top of these modes is the Ghost Mode. This allows you to make ghosts of your best race and you then can compete against yourself, or if you are using StreetPass, against friends and strangers. How Ghosting works via StreetPass is if someone has a better time than you, their Ghost will get uploaded for you to beat and if yours is better the same will happen to them. It is definitely a good use of StreetPass but sometimes it is hard to get Ghosts to race against as most people play through Career Mode. Ghosts should have been made available on select tracks in Career Mode to populate this option a little more easily.
Multiplayer is available in Asphalt 3D, but unfortunately it is only available for local wireless play and doesn’t take advantage of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Network. Up to five players (six including you) can play against each other in Race mode. There is not a whole lot to the multiplayer action besides this and it will probably be quite difficult to get six people who all love this game to play against each other.
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