Once upon a time, the only way to start a car was to have your servant vigorously turn over the engine using a handcrank. Task completed, he would then walk slowly ahead of your shuddering vehicle waving a large red flag to warn other road users of your presence. That's what it feels like playing Head2Head 3D Racing. Shuddering.
If you were feeling very charitable, you'd could call it a first generation iPhone racing game; an early failed experiment from a bedroom coder. But with Asphalt 4: Elite Racing and GTS World Racing already available, choosing this would be like buying a broken Ford Model T for £1,001 when you could have a supercharged Jaguar for £1,005.
And actually, I'm not sure I'd like to dignify Head2Head 3D Racing with the term "playing." Frankly this is a very bad game which, if Apple only carried out one per cent of the approval process of Sony or Nintendo, wouldn't be available on the App Store. At least, certainly not as a game. Maybe it would fit into a new "Waste of Money" category like the banned I Am Rich application that cost $600 and displayed a red gem on-screen.
But let's stop ranting and start the dissection.
First thing. It's called Head2Head Racing but it's only a single player game. This is explained as it was originally developed for Palm OS devices (as well as Symbian mobiles), which enabled multiplayer via infrared connection, although why the original title was kept is another matter.
When you kick off into the action - there's either a Quick Race or a career-type mode - it's pretty clear that the iPhone version is a quick and dirty port of some existing code. It looks truly horrible and the scenery pop-up is astonishingly bad. For example, one of the entire sides of the first track, as well as occasional buildings, suddenly appears as you make your way around one of the most blocky and polygonal tracks you're ever likely to see in a game. The texturing is also best described as primitive.
Now, maybe you're thinking we're being a little too mean. After all, there still aren't that many 3D games on iPhone, and supposedly this one offers "3D stereo audio" and "real physics simulation." Well, such features have always been the get-out clause for developers who should be making technology demos not games and Head2Head 3D Racing wouldn't even count as an average tech demo. There's little actual evidence of "3D stereo audio" and "real physics simulation" either.
In fact, this is so bad that after some time playing the game you actually feel perverse satisfaction at completing a lap without hitting one of the invisible scenery collision boxes that can extend onto the racing line. Its tilt acceleration and cornering control method takes plenty of getting used to but are manageable - probably the sole redeeming quality.
More problematic in terms of gameplay however is that the other car you're supposedly racing against is always at least 10 seconds faster than you per lap so you never win. As such, you never earn money to upgrade your car and make it to the next level. Indeed, in career mode, your failure to win a race results in you losing your car and unless you have enough money to buy another one (you won't), you'll have to start again from the beginning, although the game only offers three vehicles and four levels.
So, you get the message. This game is truly awful and recommended only as being an example of one of the worst experiences on iPhone or iPod touch. Surprisingly though, it's not the developer's fault.
Sure they could have made a much, much better game, but they just followed the rules laid down by Apple. Technically Head2Head 3D Racing doesn't crash your iPod touch and downloads seamlessly from the App Store, taking £1.79/$2.99 from your account in the process. But at some point in the future, Apple is going to have to add another layer of regulation to stop games of this quality of product being released. Frankly, Apple should be embarrassed to have such a game running on its hardware, not to mention the 54p it earns from each sale.