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iPad  header logo

Muscle Run

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Keep the car running

Product: Muscle Run | Developer: Wonderwood Games | Publisher: Wonderwood Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Endless running, Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Muscle Run iPad, thumbnail 1
Muscle cars are loud, brash, powerful, and often impressive in a straight line. However, they're also pretty limited.

You wouldn't take one on a school run, for example, or even on a particularly twisty race track.

Similarly, Muscle Run from Wonderwood Games is initially impressive and reasonably effective in its own way - but you don't have to push to far to see its limitations.

Good runner

While it might look like a racing game, Muscle Run plays more like a Temple Run-style endless-runner.

You tilt your iOS device left or right to steer past oncoming obstacles - this time oncoming traffic and roadworks - and to collect the many pick-ups that are dotted throughout each randomised level.

Another familiar touch is the need to tick off a bunch of basic goals from a list in order to progress. You might need to collect a certain number of money icons, hit a certain speed, or narrowly avoid a certain number of cars.

Unfortunately, this seems to rob Muscle Run of tension and the thrill of a finishing line dash, as too often you'll simply be pulled over when an arbitrary checklist has been completed.

Steering's off

Still, this would be a nice enough premise if it weren't for the problems at the core of Muscle Run.

The game might position itself as an endless-runner, with frequent last-minute swerves across the road required, but the controls aren't quite tight enough to accommodate this.

It seems the developer wants to achieve a semi-realistic handling model. It's succeeded, but the problem is that muscle cars tend to have terrible handling.

The game requires the on-rails response of a light mid-engined two-seater rather than a one-ton V8 monster.

Ready for a service

There are other technical issues that break the spell. The physics are slightly off - slow to allow your car to turn but quick to flip it over when it snags a roadside object or doesn't quite hit a ramp straight.

IAPs explained
There's a car upgrade system built into Muscle Run, and you'll earn plenty of cash through simple play.

If you want to expedite the process, however, you can pay as little as £1.99 / $2.99 for 400,000 gaming dollars. That's almost enough to buy the most expensive car in the game, or to seriously tune an existing ride up.

Of course, if it's cars you want, you can unlock all six with a £2.99 / $3.49 payment.
Hitting traffic can be similarly frustrating, with cars and vans frequently sticking to the front of your ride rather than being flung to one side.

Then there's the lurching performance. We tested it on an iPad 3, and the frame-rate was less than optimal. The app listing pretty much acknowledges this limitation by saying that you'll get the best performance with an iPhone 5 or an iPad 4.

Fair enough if Muscle Run were one of the best looking games on iOS, but it just isn't. It's decent, nothing more.

If you like the premise of an arcade runner done in the style of a high octane console racing game, check out something like Reckless Getaway. Otherwise, this particular muscle car needs a significant tune-up.
Muscle Run
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 9 August 2013
Muscle Run is an adequate arcade racer-cum-endless runner that isn't quite slick or balanced enough to warrant repeat play
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