(3DS)

Asphalt 3D (3DS)

Game Review

Asphalt 3D Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Screeching fault

Gameloft’s racing series is something of a DS staple, with Asphalt: Urban GT launching with the original dual-screened console, a sequel, and then Asphalt 4 available on DSiWare. The French developer is certainly getting some mileage out of the Asphalt name, and now with the 3DS comes Asphalt 3D, a sadly middle-of-the-road affair that fails to impress.

With Namco Bandai launching Ridge Racer 3D, a very capable entry in its arcade series, Gameloft and publisher Ubisoft have some competition out on the track. On paper at least, Asphalt has a lot going for it: 40 licensed cars, a variety of real-world locations, StreetPass functions and a sizeable career mode — but the whole package just fails to come together.

Jumping into the career mode will likely be your first port of call, and with 70 races spread over 14 leagues it’ll keep you going for a long old while. Each league or series contains five races, each with different objectives: finish first, accrue drift points, eliminate opponent racers and so on. Completing a stage rewards you with money to buy new cars or upgrade the ones you have, as well as experience points that increase your standing on the world stage. There are also secondary objectives to meet that dish out extra cash and experience, making it worth retreading old courses if you want to earn everything.

Once you’re behind the wheel, cracks start to appear. The game engine isn’t up to the task at hand, with regular frame rate drops at hairy moments whether the 3D is on or off. There’s also some prominent pop-up of scenery on many courses, something that jolts you out of the game, particularly when viewed in 3D. There’s a nice graphical effect when you trigger a full nitro boost, but otherwise the graphical side of things isn’t up to snuff.

Handling isn’t without its issues either. Whereas Ridge Racer revels in the joy of drifting, Asphalt is yet to carve out its own particular style, and here it seems caught between two minds. While it’s possible to drift with a tap of brake while cornering, hitting the button again sets you right back in a straight line as if it were an auto-centre command. It’s another seemingly small touch that breaks you out of the game, cars going from sideways to dead ahead almost automatically.

The artificial intelligence of your opponents is usually good, as they jostle about with each other and won’t think twice about bumping you to get past, but as street racing is Asphalt’s trademark there are other cars on the road to consider. These drivers are every bit as dangerous as your official opponents: head-on crashes aren’t pretty, losing you vital seconds. It’s the behaviour of these cars that baffles though, sliding around corners without turning, making it hard to predict where they’re heading and causing many a frustrating crash.

While the top screen handles all the in-game action, the bottom screen hosts a map that shows each racer’s position, as well as clearly marking all the available shortcuts, rather taking the challenge out of learning the courses. You can zoom in or out of the map by holding a touchscreen button, but as this usually means taking your thumbs off the all-important steering and accelerating, it’s hardly ideal.

It’s a shame the interface is so hit-and-miss, as the content on offer is rather good. The career mode is substantial and paces the unlockables nicely, with upgrades on older cars helping you keep up with the pace until you can afford a new ride. You also unlock purely decorative decals and the more useful sponsors, which grant you extra abilities: more experience after races, improved handling and so on. For players who stick with it, there’s no question of there being a multitude of things to shoot for.

If multiplayer is more your cup of tea, there’s local wireless play requiring one copy of the game per player, with the ability to share ghost data and lap times to other Asphalt players via StreetPass. Meeting other players this way grants rewards, from extra experience to cash rewards, going right up to meeting 5,000 players, something we’d be very surprised if anyone ever managed. Still, if the game sells well enough it could provide an entertaining diversion to see new times and ghosts appear automatically.

Rounding out the whole affair is a decidedly average audio accompaniment, with some of the worst announcer dialogue we’ve ever heard: “they say South Beach never sleeps, and you won’t want to be sleeping on these corners, or you’ll put the ‘die’ in ‘beach diet.’” The engine sounds, horns and crashes are a mixed bag, and the bland dance soundtrack blands away in the background blandly.

Conclusion

Asphalt 3D’s flaws are mostly minor but there are too many to ignore, and it doesn’t have enough of its own personality to make amends. Its twitchy handling does it no favours – half the fun of powersliding is wrestling control back from your car, but here the cars all bounce back to a central position as if spring-loaded. If you’re after a launch racer, steer towards Ridge Racer instead.

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User Comments (39)

Pogocoop

#3

Pogocoop said:

Hmmm... Can't say I didn't expect this.

I'm waiting for Mario Kart 3DS before I get a racing game anyway.

Azikira

#5

Azikira said:

No wonder all the trailers were just pre-rendered videos and not gameplay footage! Lol

DarkLloyd

#8

DarkLloyd said:

well i got the dsiware game for free of this particular series so no need to have 2 3DS racers in one hands yet :P

just quick off topic question sorry, i just got my 3DS today and didnt turn it on but its charging in the cradle just when will i know its done charging does the light go off or turn green?

CorbsAdmin

#9

Corbs said:

I put a couple of hours into this the other day and it's not very good at all. And as James points out, there was some potential there, but it was sadly never realized.

Dodger

#10

Dodger said:

This was the first game I tried at the demo booth in LA, because when I walked in it was the only booth open. It really wasn't that great. I put it down as soon as another booth was open.

Oregano

#12

Oregano said:

@Corbs I would have loved a content packed, online, highly polished retail Asphalt as well.:(

You know I wonder if they'll release Asphalt games on the eShop.

Imerion

#14

Imerion said:

I agree with most points in this review, but I would rank it slightly higher. It's still fun doing crazy drifts and stunning jumps, even though Ridge Racer 3D no doubt is a much better game doing the same things. Graphics looks quite nice too and would have been great had it not been for the dropping frame rate.

zander

#16

zander said:

my friend code is 3050-7580-6499 and i hate using all of this friend crap i wish they would just make it like the PS3 friend stuff.i want some friends to play super street fighter with

WaveWarlock

#18

WaveWarlock said:

Well, at least the cover is pretty....Actually, it's....No, no it's pretty generic.lol
Ubisoft REALLY slacked off on the font especially. And their 3DS launch titles remind me of their crummy slapped together craptastic Wii game Launch titles....Sigh* Where's the passion? Out to make a quick buck eh?

SilverBaretta

#19

SilverBaretta said:

@16: There's forum threads for both 3DS codes and for voicing your irritations, so you might want to go there instead of posting in some random comment thread.

On topic, good review James, I just wonder if we'll ever see a friend great Asphalt game any time soon.

SwerdMurd

#21

SwerdMurd said:

but Gameloft makes amazing, original games!!!! Why on earth would a Gameloft game get a middle-of-the-road review? Their amazing work such as Clone of Existing Game, Uninspiring Sports Franchise Game, and IP We Purchased, Made Worse, And Re-released are all among some of mankind's finest, most influential work.

sykotek

#23

sykotek said:

Asphalt 3D is a port of a 2 year old, $5 iOS app Asphalt 5. Some of the effects were altered to be similar to Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, but the core gameplay is exactly the same as Asphalt 5. Even though I only got it for $19.99, I found it to be quite overpriced given the issues described. They should've just ported A6. I just returned my purchased copy to the store.

Chris720

#24

Chris720 said:

Oh Ubisoft... you fail at games... except for maybe Assassins Creed, Rayman and Raving Rabbids. Lets not forget Nitrobike either, that was god awful... and also Gameloft, and I thought they made GOOD games, obviously not... :|

Ren

#25

Ren said:

Gameloft is a word that sounds warning bells for me. Worst stuff I've played in a while. The cheesy WW games are so cheap and tasteless it's really an embarassment so this is no surprise.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#26

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

To be fair and balance the Asphalt series is alright on the download circuit. The DSiWare version is decent and go a 9/10 on here didn't it?. One or two of the iOS ones are decent as well and score around the 80s on metacritic (I think). Its just this one has too many mistakes in design and dev implementation.

Was intendig to get this in teh bargain bin but I won't be now.

Bass_X0

#27

Bass_X0 said:

I still wouldn't mind winning this game from Nintendo Life's competition.

SigourneyBeaver

#29

SigourneyBeaver said:

I've got this and I'm enjoying it, warts and all. It's miles better than the DSi Ware version. The drifting is more predictable and the cars have more weight to them. The 3D effect kinda makes my eyes go funny after a while, so I think I'll play this one with it off from now on.

I also have Ridge Racer 3D and I think I actually prefer Asphalt. Ridge Racer hardly ever changes. Of course, the 3DS version is a well made game with great handling; probably the best Ridge Racer handling yet, but it's still just Ridge Racer. Asphalt has more variety.

Bass_X0

#31

Bass_X0 said:

The 3DS launch date really crept up quickly on developers. They were taken aback without any warning whatsoever.

HanuKwanzMasBif

#32

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

I LOVE Asphalt 4: Elite Racing for DSiWare, but this looks pretty bad. Although I really want an arcade-style racing game on 3DS, that would be epic. Maybe Ridge Racer.

Traxx

#33

Traxx said:

I got this game for free by amazon. Thus, I didnt feel cheated. Its an OK game if you can get it free or very, very cheap. Will sell it nevertheless. Ridge Racer is the better deal.

And since noone brought this up yet: as*-fault! ololol

Tate24

#34

Tate24 said:

Mmmm well i am clear i dont want ridge racer.

But this remind me Need Speed Nitro on Wii and that game rocked in my opinion!!

Its shame that wasnt on 3DS:(

I do like sound of the variety in the game and levelling up system.

And am not that bothered about drifting because N4S Nitro had same thing but i kinda liked drifting on that!

not really bothered about how unrealistic game mite be!

I dont play games see how realistic they are to real thing i play them to take me out of norn!

maybe this game is what am looking for........Maybe?

jerryo

#35

jerryo said:

same as you i do not care about drifting, and do not care about realism.

I found this game quite entertaining. I would say a 7-7.5/10 game.

It left me a little burnout revenge taste in the mouth (which is a game i really loved) and has lots of nice add-ons power ups etc. If it wasn't for the mediocre 3D implementation and frame drops it could have been better. Not a bad pick up at all if you already played the other launch games.

resort55

#36

resort55 said:

i think this has to get a better rating. only bad sites are money and drift contests, and that your enemies have a much better acelleration and top speed than you. and yeah, maybe the handling is bad, but realistic!

grumblegrumble

#37

grumblegrumble said:

Totally do not agree with the review for this game, and what the mods have to say about it. I personally love this game, and for just $20 at Best Buy right now it's a steal. I think it's totally worth that price and I've gotten many hours of gameplay out of this. I love the way the tracks look and the music is great, love pretty much everything about this game. I think if you are curious about it look online or elsewhere and see the screenshots. @Jerryo totally agree, it deserves a 7 or higher IMHO...

C-Olimar

#38

C-Olimar said:

Got this for £5.70 off eBay so I'd say its at least worth that much. The car models are nice, especially when compared to Ridge Racer, but the tracks are a little blocky. Despite the real car licenses, there is no realism in this game, but if you ignore that it's actually quite enjoyable, and it has a lot of content as well. The 3D is pretty horrible - the cars and tire tracks seem to float above the road most of the time, so I wouldn't recommend playing in 3D. The loading times are also a little long, but overall I'd say a 6.5/10 is about right for me.

FordGuy

#39

FordGuy said:

This game is 100% unrealistic. If you crash into, say, a tree, the speedo will still read the speed you crashed into the tree at. Once you wriggle the front end past the tree, your car will instantly accelerate back up to speed. Just one of the 3,000 small gliches that occur within this game. Also, the Shelby GT500's top speed is not 153 MPH, it's 202. Big difference. Get your facts right, Ubisoft! I recommend NFS The Run instead

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