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Asphalt 4: Elite Racing

For: N-Gage   Also on: Mobile

An elite treat

Product: Asphalt 4: Elite Racing | Developer: Gameloft | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: N-Gage | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Networking: Bluetooth | Version: Europe
Asphalt 4: Elite Racing N-Gage, thumbnail 1
Racing games are usually impressive when it comes to realism, visuals and detail, across all platforms - but the entire genre falls apart if the game speed is lacking in any way.

So in some small respects, Gameloft’s N-Gage translation of Asphalt 4: Elite Racing stumbles at the pre-hurdle starting block, since it’s taken so long to actually get a release.

But we’re not about to start marking games down because of issues with the host platform. That said, hopefully lessons will be learned in maintaining a franchise’s popularity, as already Asphalt 4 sounds like an old game, and with there being so many other versions of it zooming around the track, much of the game’s thunder feels to have been stolen.

But this long awaited sequel in the prolific series still does great justice to its heritage, and even offers a couple of improvements that other systems were unable to manage.

At its core, Asphalt 4 is a game that’s built on achievements. There’s a huge number of unlockable items, from fully licensed vehicles to a garage full of tuning options, new tracks and game modes, and even women - the more money you earn, the more attractive your seat cover gets.

A social commentary for a decade long past, perhaps, but it’s another string to the game’s vaguely chauvinistic bow.

As with most street racing titles, your task is to work your nitro-fuelled way around the world, visiting all manner of famous locations like LA and New York, but also a few that are more off the beaten path, like Dubai.

Whether or not they offer a recognisable likeness really isn’t important - what matters is the sheer variety of race tracks, and Asphalt 4 offers more than most.

Visually these are remarkably detailed, though the complex surroundings don’t seem to affect the game speed one bit. All kinds of weather effects cloud the screen (driving in the snow is great, especially once you’ve mastered the rubber-burningly awesome drift mechanics) but never to the extent that they slow things down.

For all the Ferraris and Mercs and even Ducati and Kawasaki motorbikes you can choose from as you work your way through the game, it’s hard to beat the first motor on the list - the Mini Cooper.

It’s an easy rig to supe-up from the huge selection of tuning options you can earn, and the difference is quickly noticeable as it begins to hug the corners and out-perform the Nissans and Beemers you hunt down as the race gets going.

Asphalt 4 makes a big feature of running the opposition off the road, like Burnout’s ‘takedown’ style. It’s not immediately simple to perform, but when you do manage to ram the other racers into the barrier, you’re rewarded with an excellent (and surprisingly unobtrusive) panoramic camera view of the action-packed accident before jumping straight back into the driving seat.

While the iPhone version of Asphalt 4 manages to trump the graphics and slick controls, the sheer volume of NPC traffic on the roads of the N-Gage version really brings the tracks to life and permeates the game with a strong sense of reckless danger.

And although the Symbian system shows pretty similar visuals, the N-Gage version packs in a bit of extra interest from a different angle - the audio. The music and sound effects of the N-Gage Asphalt 4 are quite superb, and provide a high-speed metronome for you to race to.

The Bluetooth two-player option also builds on the real strength of this new racing game - its longevity. The sheer weight of new items and game modes that present themselves as the game progresses means you’ll keep playing for a long time.

Even after completion, taking another car through the process of tuning and cop chases and takedowns will be very appealing.

Although it’s very late to the party, the N-Gage version of Asphalt 4: Elite Racing lives up to its name, and joins the other members of its franchise in the pantheon of mobile racing gods.
Asphalt 4: Elite Racing
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 21 January 2009
Fast and slick gameplay with an impressive wealth of features guaranteed to keep you playing longer than most racing games could ever hope
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