Considering how essentially 'grown-up' cars are, they have an amazing ability to tune into your inner child. On the surface, there’s the cost and responsibility that comes with ownership; keeping it insured, serviced and MOT’d is a serious financial investment, not to mention the fact that you’ve had to prove to a government inspector that you’re qualified to be let behind the wheel.
Get your motor out of the garage though and the feeling of liberation and freedom takes you right back to your first bike. The open road stretching out before you, that amazing sense of speed, the cruising round the block showing off, it's all there.
The cars in Asphalt Urban GT 2 appeal to your inner-child, but for a different reason. While you aren't essentially free to drive where you want in the digitised versions of London, Los Angeles, Miami, Paris and more and you haven't really got time to cruise, you can indulge another passion from your youth: customising your ride!
Of course things have come on a bit since stickers and spokey dokeys Asphalt Urban GT 2 enables you to pimp your ride with a wide variety of patterns and colours, as well as add neons, body kits, various alloy wheels and paint jobs. This might be a purely aesthetic touch – they have no impact on your motor’s performance – but they look great and, as you can use these customisations in multi-player games via the N-Gage Arena, they’re great for making the standard cars much more individual. That, in turn, makes you try that little bit harder not to lose and embarrass yourself.
Which, quite honestly, isn’t something you’re going to experience much in the main game. You embark on a career, taking part in various championships, earning money by winning races and building up a collection of sports cars that would make any Premiership footballer envious. These championships, which require you to finish first in order to progress, are rather easy to win. And not just by a little bit; you’ll find yourself wiping the floor with the opposition. This is in spite of the police’s best efforts at running you off the road and arresting you for speeding at every opportunity.
The ease with which you’ll win is also in spite of the game’s problems. While Asphalt Urban GT 2 is much improved in comparison to the first game, it shares some of its faults. The worst one is that it’s hard to see anything when you’re racing at night as the track and track-side scenery blend together, making it hard to tell where the road’s going. This results in frequent excursions into the crash barrier and you’ll be glad that there’s no in-game damage to your car. The second major problem we have is the opposing cars' artificial intelligence: they are, without a doubt, some of the most aggressive drivers we’ve come across. They will, without fail, do all that they can to push you off the road, even at the expense of their own racing line and well-being.
This does work both ways; it’s possible for you to do the same and dispose of your opponents with what the game punningly calls a ‘smash-down’. But you’re better off driving your own race. That’s what’s most enjoyable, particularly with so many cars and upgrades. Each car has its own unique handling characteristics that really do feel different to each other and the 3D visuals are splendid, in particular the special effects when you use three nitro boosts in quick succession. It’s the action that’ll make you forget about the game’s faults, because when it all comes together, it’ll grab your attention and not let it go.
The glossy presentation, featuring music by Moby and photos of pop kittens the Pussycat Dolls, is the window-tinting on the cake, sorry, car. It’s all part of Asphalt Urban GT 2’s polish, which makes it one of the most entertaining racers available on the N-Gage. It’s certainly the most grown up.