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Hands on with GT Racing: Motor Academy on iPhone

Gameloft goes Gran Turismo

Product: GT Racing: Motor Academy (iPhone) | Developer: In-house | Publisher: Gameloft | Genre: Racing | Networking: wireless (network), Bluetooth
For: iPhone   Also on: Android
GT Racing: Motor Academy (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1
Given all the crazy drivers on the road, GT Racing: Motor Academy could be the sort of hard-edged simulation needed to school the worst among us.

Mastering the mechanics of this deep driving simulation should prove plenty of fun when it rolls out of the garage in early 2010.

Behind the wheel of a Ford Shelby GT500 on Laguna Seca, it became immediately clear GT Racing won't follow the crash and bash of Gameloft's arcade racer Asphalt 5.

The gentle curves of the track required precise acceleration and braking to preserve speed, while simultaneously carefully tilting your iPhone so as to avoid fishtailing off the road. A colour-coded racing line shows the recommended speed for each section of the track, as well as the ideal driving path.

The simulation doesn't stop there. Vehicle tuning allows you to tweak an impressive list of features with parts purchased using credits earned during the Career mode. These include better tyres to increase traction, the ability to tinker with mass transfer plus suspension tweaks - there's an entire deck of features that you can tune on each of the game's 100+ cars.

Drive your own way

Of course, you don't have to get overwhelmed by the minutia of tuning unless that's your thing. According to the game's producer, tuning is entirely optional and a number of driving aides can be toggled to help you navigate the road. While Motor Academy aims to be the most authentic racing simulation on the App Store, it's hoping to be relatively user-friendly too.

Multiple control schemes support that goal. Joining the default tilt method, the game will offer a virtual wheel and tap control schemes similar to those featured in Asphalt 5.

Several camera modes can be flipped through on the fly, ranging from cockpit view, hood view, first-person mode, and three levels of zoom in the third-person perspective. Swiping a finger up the middle of the screen switches the perspective.

Paying your dues

Figuring out which perspective and control scheme works best for you will be crucial in maximising your performance in Career mode.

But before you're able to enter any competitive events, you first must pass license examinations. You're given a D-class license from the off, and have to earn C-, B-, A-, and S-class permits by acing tutorial-like tests.

Acquiring licences matters not only for your career but the multiplayer mode as well, where your available stock of cars for competitive racing is dictated by what you've purchased in Career mode. Both local and online play are being supported, the latter sticking to wi-fi only. Naturally, expect Gameloft Live integration with trophies and leaderboards.

On iPhone 3GS and third generation iPod touch handsets, up to 10 players can race simultaneously. That number drops to a respectable six on older devices.

High performance

GT Racing may not be a new concept, but we've come away duly impressed by its attention to detail. The wealth of tuning options certainly demonstrates such, yet it is less obvious features which show just how much care is being taken with the game.

Sound effects are specific to each vehicle model, for instance, and cockpits will be rendered specifically to each of the 24 manufacturers with cars featured in the game.

Attention is also being taken in terms of which cars are being included. GT Racing will be the first game to include virtual versions of new Jaguar and Ferrari models.

All-in-all then, this is a bold step for portable racing, and one that looks to teach its competitors a lesson when it parks up on the App Store in early 2010.

Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson 23 November 2009
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