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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Game Review 25 - Asphalt:Urban GT 2

Looking at the impressive screenshots of the DS version of Asphalt: Urban GT 2 (it is also available for the PSP), I was lured into purchasing the game. I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the game; I expected more, but Asphalt: Urban GT 2’s shortcomings were hardly enough to thwart the game’s aim of entertaining me.

The most obvious thing you will notice about the game when you first play it would be the visuals. For a DS game, it is amazing, although there are still many visible pixellated structures. The pretty graphics actually made the game more realistic, as opposed to those horribly deformed racing games on the GBA. Colors are vibrant and car models (oh, and by the way, motorbikes are also included in this game) look acceptable. Music in the game is mostly forgettable, with songs that are barely audible or clear – it came out of the DS’s speakers seemingly muffled, but I could understand that the problem may be due to the lack of space in the DS game card.

Initially, Asphalt: Urban GT 2 did not please me due to its controls, but after some while, I got used to it. As a matter of fact, you will never encounter vehicles turning properly around a corner in this game; there is some hidden kind of mechanism in the game that makes your vehicles drift automatically and that is what I loathe. Simply speaking, it takes a lot of challenges away as no skills are needed to drive, as well as to win a race. As if to make matters worse, the CPU is this game just isn’t good enough. In fact, it had me questioning whether there is really an A.I. in this game. The CPU offers absolutely no challenge and you will find yourself getting pole position in every race; attaining otherwise will show how bad a virtual driver you are. Those are the 2 areas that the next Asphalt game needs to improve on.

Fortunately, a couple of things save the game being a bad one. In total, there are 12 tracks, and some of them at really interesting locations to boot. In addition, there are several modes of play including cop chase, where well, you must escape the cops, bandit, where you are the police and must take the bandits’ cars down, elimination, where the last vehicle as every checkpoint gets kicked out of the race, the normal race and last but not least, radar race, where you must pass a checkpoint by a targeted speed. Great variety – for a DS game, and it will actually last you quite a while to complete the game because a career mode (known as Evolution in this game) is also included. Customizable options do not dwell too deep, but there are enough of them to put a smile on your face. The sounds of car engines are realistic as well.

All in all, Asphalt: Urban GT 2 is one DS game that provides moderate fun. In case you are wondering again, I have never played the first Asphalt before. The game is great for any DS owner who likes racing games, and wants one that is portable. However, after you complete the game, you will feel few reasons to come back for more.

Overall score: 7.6/10

What’s good: Pretty visuals, huge variety of tracks with some of them at interesting locations, many modes of play, sounds of car engines are realistic
What’s not: Stupid in-game mechanism that makes vehicles drift automatically, A.I. is hardly present (game is one of the easiest I have ever encountered), mostly forgettable music of low quality, low replayability value

Also on: PSP


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