If you want to get somewhere fast, it's always been a case of two legs bad, four wheels good and if you have an Italian sports car handy even better. Sadly most of us don't, so Ubisoft has stepped in so we can live out our high-speed dreams on the DS.
And they've done a pretty good job of it too. The cars themselves look great. From the classic Shelby GT500 to the modern Lamborghini Gallardo, the 20 models from manufacturers such as Jaguar, Hummer, VW and Audi represent their real-life counterparts with a high level of detail.
In terms of driving, the emphasis is definitely on fun so physics can hardly be described as realistic, but handling is predictable enough to ensure it's worth learning the track layout and each car's characteristics. Saying that, none of the races are particularly difficult though and you'll find yourself charging through the opening evolution mode in pretty short order, unlocking a sizeable garage of vehicles as you go. But this isn't to say Asphalt: Urban GT is a short game. The main career mode is lengthy, and despite its easy going nature, once you have completed it, there are a variety of other modes to keep you going.
For example, the arcade section includes the options such as free race, time attack and instant play modes that you would expect to find in most racing games. And rather than restricting all the unlockable content to the career mode, Ubisoft presents you with a road challenge mode, allowing you to discover a whole bunch of cars that you won't find elsewhere in the game. There is also an interesting cop chase race where you take on the role of a traffic cop trying to catch wild boyracers for five seconds in your radar beam. It's great fun, and something of a shame it doesn't feature more strongly in the game proper, although you can play it in a two-player wi-fi mode, which is a neat touch.
Asphalt: Urban GT isn't just about the selection of cars you get to race either. The exotic locations are an important part of the game as well, with the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Fifth Avenue in New York and the Las Vegas strip available for racing. There are even races around the nuclear power station in Chernobyl.
Each race pits you against seven opponents and there's general traffic to dodge as well, which offers an extra challenge. To win, you'll have to rely on your driving skills and using your nitro boost in the right places to get the jump on your rivals. Be careful when you trigger it though, because it gets much harder to steer when you're in boost mode. To refill nitro, you'll have to come off the racing line and clip objects such as phone booths, dumpsters and deck chairs which are scattered around the edges of the track.
In terms of other game elements, Asphalt: Urban GT is pretty solid. Car audio is what you'd expect and there are some catchy driveby tunes you can select as favourites. But if you find the jingles getting on your nerves, just turn them off completely. What Asphalt: Urban GT doesn't do well however is make use of the unique qualities of the DS. There is no touchscreen interaction outside of the opening menus for example and the lower screen is used purely to show a map of the track and timing information. You can play up to four in the multiplayer mode using DS' wi-fi connection though.
So while not being groundbreaking, Asphalt: Urban GT remains a hugely playable game, with its wide variety of modes and unlockable content giving long-term appeal.Asphalt: Urban GT is on sale now.