Asphalt: Urban GT 2

Apparently there’s more to pop sensation the Pussycat Dolls than their music (could have fooled us, though); they’re avid street-racing fans, too, apparently. Hence their photogenic involvement in Asphalt: Urban GT 2. Here you’ll find a racing game that doubles up as an advertising space for the popular girl group, showcasing the band-mates in their work clothes (or the distinct lack of them – they’re also a popular Las Vegas burlesque troupe). If you’ve never seen The Fast And The Furious, the question of why the two go hand in hand may need asking, but the art of street racing and dodging police seems to attract a certain kind of female. Fast cars, so it seems, attract fast women. Undoubtedly a theory that many Max Power readers optimistically subscribe to, we’re sure.

Why Gameloft feels the need to hang Asphalt: Urban GT 2’s coat on such a peg is questionable, particularly considering the leaps that this game makes for mobile racing games. The technology in mobile phones is improving so much that it’s almost enough to achieve realistic racing games on the go. Asphalt: Urban GT 2 makes such a step in the right direction, with brilliantly detailed landscapes, plenty of depth and enough variation in play to keep you hooked for longer than the Pussycat Dolls’ last single. You’re not only racing against competing drivers; you can push them into on-coming traffic and be rewarded for causing them to crash out, and when the inevitable black-and-white rolls up behind you, you’re thrust into a getaway scene reminiscent of so many Hollywood blockbusters.

As good as all this is, though, we wonder if Asphalt: Urban GT 2’s perhaps pushing itself too hard to deal with the complexities of animating an environment as lush as the one found here. While the cityscapes you race through aren’t 3D in the truest sense (you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that), what we have here is a collection of lovingly rendered cars that create a pseudo-3D effect, getting bigger on-screen as you move forward, simulating distance and speed. It’s worked successfully for decades and is suitable for mobiles owing to the lack of complexity. Having said that, when you play GT 2 you can’t help feel that, whatever you do, you’re fighting a losing battle.

You see, the in-game speed is far too slow to get any sense of movement and this directly affects the handling. Before you know it, your car’s run face-first into a wall or has wrapped itself snugly around a lamppost. There’s no time to gauge what’s going on and, therefore, you have to face the fact it’s going to be a tough challenge to keep up with the field. To add insult to injury, those are police cars we mentioned earlier will try to ram your car off the road and they usually succeed. This isn’t interesting or exciting, like an extra challenge or thrill, it simply becomes a nuisance. At no time can you ever realistically dish the abuse back, so you end up getting nicked and fed up, out of pocket and out of contention for the race win.

It isn’t all bad, though, and there’s certainly a moderate level of enjoyment. The cars are pretty to look at and there’s a wide range of licensed rides, ranging from Lamborghinis, McLarens and Hummers, though the in-game handling is so stale, don’t expect to notice any great difference between them. Musically there are the usual generic tunes, strangely (and perhaps fortunately, depending on your point of view) lacking such hits as “Stick Wit U” and “Don’t Cha”. Gameloft missed a trick there, surprisingly. The in-game options provide for different styles of racing, though the one player mission is really the only one worth concentrating on. This at least provides you with a tangible goal to achieve, trying to unlock all the courses and cars. Don’t forget though, the tuneful Pussycat Dolls will guide you on your way, and that can’t be all bad.

Asphalt: Urban GT 2

A very polished and ambitious game that’s let down by a few clumsy in-game oversights