iPhone racing games are a bit thin on the ground. Sure, karting games Cro-Mag Rally and Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D have zoomed up the App Store charts, while Moto Racer has offered something for two-wheeler fans. But where's iPhone's equivalent of Burnout, OutRun or even (don't laugh) Gran Turismo? We've heard a lot about the iPhone's 3D capabilities, not to mention its suitability for tilt-based control mechanics, but it seems few developers have translated that into a slick racing game.
Fortunately, Astraware has popped up with its own iPhone racer, which promises arcade-tinged action for those of us who don't want to drive as bandicoots or cavemen. GTS World Racing is a conversion of an existing game for Palm and Windows Mobile smartphones, and claims to be inspired by classic coin-op driving games. (Get a sneak preview with our video of GTS World Racing on iPhone, but be sure to come back).
GTS World Racing is certainly comprehensive with 64 different track layouts spread between 16 global locations from Peru and Iceland to Kenya and Scotland. There are four difficulty levels, too.
You've got a choice of three cars: a sports car, a coupe and a 'formula' (i.e. an F1 car without an official licence). Sadly, it's not a free-for-all – whichever you choose, you race against other cars of the same type.
There are four ways to play the game. Single Race lets you choose a car, a track, and a location. Everything is unlocked from the start, so you're immediately able to rev up anywhere you want. Challenge Cup mode has you racing in all 16 locations in an elimination-style tournament. Depending on the selected difficulty, progressing means finishing in a certain place in each race. Grand Tour, meanwhile, sees you taking on all 64 tracks one after the other.
Finally, Championship offers a 16-race season, with you winning points in every race to try and reach the top, with qualification laps thrown in for good measure. In all the races, there are a respectable ten cars on the track at once.
Also impressive is the lack of pop-up – GTS World Racing is clearly working within the limitations of the iPhone, ensuring that you don't get any pesky mountains suddenly appearing out of nowhere. The game shifts along at a fair pace, too, striking a fine balance between attractive visuals and basic speed.
Control-wise, it's fully motion based, so you tilt your iPhone left and right to steer, forward to accelerate, and back to brake. With a bit of practice, some ninja drifting round corners is possible. It works well, with the caveat (common to all iPhone games of this type) that if you're playing on, say, a bus or train, bumps can also send you off-course in the game.
As mentioned, GTS World Racing is very much an arcade racer, shown in the way you bounce off other cars with a clang, rather than encounter more realistic collision effects. The game's very fun, but in some ways it whets your appetite for just a few more features. We're not saying it has to try to be Gran Turismo, but most driving games nowadays come with more structure around the core action. There could be more of a sense of progression – more cars to unlock, a better sense of who you're racing against, and so on.
Despite that, however, GTS World Racing is an impressive addition to the limited iPhone driving canon, and offers a fun alternative to the kart-based racers already on the App Store.Remember to check out the latest iPhone news and reviews in our dedicated iPhone section.