28
Jul
unnamed

Gameloft took its sweet time getting its games in the Google Play Store, but when the French developer finally got its act together it offered some great stuff. The Asphalt series of racing games has been a mainstay of Android for a while now, and the newest incarnation, Asphalt 7, has finally launched. Now that there are so many alternatives, should you still be revving your engine for Asphalt? Let's see.

Controls

The default control scheme is probably going to be familiar to anyone that has ever played a racing game on a mobile device. Your car will accelerate constantly, unless you press over on the left of the screen to brake. Tilting the device left and right will control steering and drifting. You can kick off a drift by tapping the brake while turning ever so slightly. Another quick tap on the brakes will stop your drift.

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If you tap on the right half of the screen, you will trigger your nitro boost. A meter at the top of the display will tell you how much juice you've got. Drifts and other fancy driving gets you nitro fuel. Steering is still possible while pumping nitro into your car, but it's sluggish. If you need to make a turn, tap the brakes to end the nitro boost.

That's really all there is to the control of Asphalt, and that's a good thing. Controls for racing games are pretty well defined, and there's no use adding unnecessary features that won't be as good. There are some other control schemes, like an on screen wheel and manual accelerator peddle, but they're not as easy to use.

Gameplay

There are three different ways to play Asphalt 7. In career mode you work your way through races in order, starting at the bottom and working your way up to the elite levels. Single race mode allows you to choose any race at any level. I quite like this feature, as it's cool to skip ahead and drive the better cars. There is also a multiplayer mode which works somewhat well. You have to set up a Gameloft online account and the buffering times are a little slow for me.

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The races themselves fall into several types. There are regular circuit races of a few laps, elimination, drift, a demolition mode called "beat 'em all," and the point challenge "king of the hill" mode. I really enjoy crashing the other racers to gain an edge.

Asphalt is designed to be a fast game. There are few, if any, sharp turns on most tracks. You get up to speed, hit the nitro, and avoid traffic. This is a game where your reflexes are going to win races, not your good technical driving skills. There are plenty of tracks and races, so you won't run out of content.

I feel like the early races are fairly easy; everything in the first tier should be easy to knock out. The game also offers up some interesting achievements with various rewards. As you move on to the next tier, things get more difficult, and it doesn't slow down. You are given a basic car at each tier, which is nice, but it will need upgrades to keep up. This is probably due to Gameloft's business model as of late, but I'll get into that shortly.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the gameplay in Asphalt 7 is that you sometimes won't be able to access the game at all. You can't launch Asphalt 7 without a network connection. When WiFi-only tablets are becoming commonplace, this is beyond unacceptable. If I want to play offline, I should be able to.

In-App Billing And Sharing

I am not one of those that feels in-app purchases are inherently evil. I respect the way Madfinger handled them in Dead Trigger. I felt comfortable that I was not being forced into buying anything in that game. Then there are titles that really try to screw you with constant booster pack purchases just to continue playing the game. Asphalt is somewhere in between. You don't have to buy things just to play, but I feel like the difficulty is tuned high specifically to encourage more buying.

To Gameloft's credit, they give you plenty of cars for free. If you do well in a race, you get cash, which you can use to upgrade your rides. To unlock more cars, you need stars, and they don't grow on trees. You get a few from completing achievements, so you can get a couple cars just by killing it early on. Additional packs can be had for a few bucks. All of this is fine with me. The game is only $0.99, and previous versions were $7. If you spend that much, you will do just fine. Although, I wish the game would stop pushing power-ups so hard. I'm sick of tapping through that screen before every race.

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Speaking of that, you just read a paragraph! Would you like to share that with your friends. No? You just rolled your eyes! Would you like to share that with your friends? Asphalt 7 will ask you several times after any event to share it on Facebook. You have to tap through several screens just to get to the next race. It's obvious that Gameloft is doing this to get your friends interested in Asphalt, but it only serves to make the menus clunky and annoying.

Graphics And Performance

Even with the above foibles, Asphalt 7 could be a good game. The deal breaker for me is the overwhelming mediocrity of the graphics. Judging from the screenshots on the Play Store page, this should be a gorgeous game. Instead, it's just average. Even then, only on some devices. On the Nexus 7 the texture resolution is absolutely terrible. Everything in the environment looks muddy. The cars aren't bad, but there is noticeable aliasing along the edges.

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I also looked at things on the Galaxy Nexus, and the textures were a little better. I was still not impressed with the overall fuzziness of the roads and buildings, though. The jaggies are not as prevalent here, possibly because the screen is smaller, and I can't see them as well. For whatever reason, performance is questionable on both devices. Both will get a spot of lag from time to time, and the Nexus 7 seems to have a lower frame rate. Here are some screens from the Galaxy Nexus to compare:

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The brightness also looks too high, making the game oddly washed-out. There are a few places that I could barely see where I was going because the gentle blue track markers blended in too well with the background. Turning my device's brightness down did nothing to fix this. I could also see distant objects drawing as I rocketed along. That should not happen on any modern device.

For 1.4GB of game data, I expected stunning graphics. I really feel like some of the smaller Need For Speed games look better than this. Asphalt 7 is not ugly, but it's just not pretty like the screenshots would lead you to believe.

Conclusion

On the surface, Asphalt 7 is a fine game. The controls are solid, and there are plenty of tracks and race types. I can even deal with the in-app purchases because they don't seem exploitative. This is essentially a $7 game that you can have for $0.99, so dropping a few dollars on better cars seems alright. The learning curve is steep, but not to a fault.

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However, the requirement that you have internet access is beyond ridiculous. Things fall apart for me when it comes to visuals and performance. I'm just disappointed in how this game runs on the Nexus 7, and it's not terribly good on the Galaxy Nexus. Lag, low frame rates, and blurry graphics are not what I expect out of 1.4GB of game data. If this game was free, I'd definitely suggest you pick it up to try. As it stands, you could spend $0.99 if you like Asphalt racing games, but there's just nothing that special here.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

  • Freak

    just downloaded it yesterday even after reading in XDA forums to never buy this game, to only found out that they're right. it didnt even starts on my device. tried anything but no luck. for those who are lucky, good for you..

    • Kmil

      What device do You have?

  • Darkstar

    Doesnt work on asus tf300 wtf guys...

  • Lien Wee Hoo

    Glad to read this review before purchase.

  • Lachlan

    I disagree entirely with this review, I had asphalt 6, loved it and bought this as soon as it came out. I have only 2 complaints: its not as smooth as 6 was on my a500, and those constant "would you like to share?" questions!

  • Gnex Jelly Bean

    I enjoyed so far with my Gnex, why so many complaints? Graphics are better than A6 but I admit brightness is abit to high, if u are good enuff and somehow pro in Asphalt earning cash and stars doesn't even bothered me, cash and stars are rewarded in very high amount, I can probably use the most lousiest car to beat every computer.. what do you wish to get from a Mobile Game? Or are u comparing to Desktop games? LoL...

  • ProductFRED

    Issues:

    - IAPs are ridiculously in-your-face and ridiculously expensive. e.g. $99.99 (yes, $100) to buy 420 stars. On average, it costs 100+ stars to get to the next car.

    - Graphics optimization is horrible. On any night track or any track with opponents (not a Time Trial), my framerate drops down to 20 and below FPS. On a Galaxy S III i9300 (quad-core model). Sifting through the games files, I found that for Tegra 3, the game runs at "Medium". That's why the graphics do not look good for the reviewer. It actually look like the screenshots on my Galaxy S III.

    - The controls are messed up. My car automatically steers to the right, and if I use on-screen controls, my presses are not always registered, causing me to crash. On top of this, the N20 button is placed where you'd place your finger to turn, and you can't adjust the button placement.

    - It keeps asking you to share with friends! You literally have to hit "No Thanks" 3 times to exit to the next race.

    - Buttons to buy are purposely placed to the right, with no confirmation, to get you to spend money. Same for buttons to share, and other things.

    It is NOT worth the money. Even if you ignore the IAP's, which admittedly you don't need to play, the game performance is horrible and the controls are even worse. DO NOT BUY THIS GAME. The 99-cent price tag is misleading.

    • ProductFRED

      Oh also forgot to add, the game doesn't start without a data connection. What the eff Gameloft?

  • Gnex Jelly Bean

    Compare to Dead Trigger the cash is super hard earn to get new weapon, and is a must to pay for better guns, that's really bothering me and I quit that lousy game, super graphics so what?

    • Himmat Singh

      IAPs here are better than Dead Trigger IMHO. Not necessary at all and EVERYTHING can be earned in-game. Plus the IAPs in A7 are way way way overpriced.

      • Cheeseball

        After a few days of playing Dead Trigger, you absolutely don't need to pay for any IAPs at all. You get free gold and casino coins every day. They did IAPs in Dead Trigger perfectly with the latest update.

  • Gnex Jelly Bean

    If you say lag in Gnex its because the GPU in Gnex is not new, and its using the old GPU chip found in Nexus S, of course every newly launched app doesn't fit all android devices because of fragmentation... Oh gosh didn't you study all these before you post this article out?

    • RyanWhitwam

      Plenty of games run fine on the Gnex. And you might also notice that I said it runs poorly on the Nexus 7 with a Tegra 3. This game appears to have issues on a lot of devices. It's not about how powerful the chip is, it's how well Gameloft made the game. If it were just about how new the GPU is (as you say), the N7 should work great, right?

  • Aaron Gascoigne

    graphics arent horrible to me, didnt even know it had iap purchases and am on the 6th cup and i havent had to upgrade or buy a car unless it was for an achivment, howwver needing internet and the share msgs are annoying, hopefully the fix licence check in an update but for .99 cents im happy with my purchase, lots of game time for a buck

  • Trill43

    The GPU is capable in the Galaxy Nexus but still not going to win any prizes. There are other graphic details that are omitted on devices that are deemed not worth the performance problem. The screenshots from the last 3 released games have been from the iPhone or IPAD just look at Spiderman for instance.

    I love my Galaxy Nexus and the GPU is underpowered but its passable considering the pric.

  • ack

    i was going to praise the graphics and say they're better than ps2 titles, then i saw full size screenshots.
    ew. those textures are closer to ps1 than anything

    • ack

      still, i hate "nitro and crash on everything you see" racing games.
      i like games that you know, plays like real races, where you AVOID those things.
      i want real racing 3. actually i want forza motorsport for android but i know that's never happening, so i'll settle for rr3.

      • Himmat Singh

        Yeap, I've always never liked (almost hated) arcade racing games. I'm more of a sim racer along the lines of F1, but on mobile Real Racing is the best.

  • http://omgdroid.com/ Tony Simons

    The game runs buttery smooth on my S3. I'm surprised to hear it requires Internet though, as I hadn't noticed before. I'm also surprised it doesn't run well on the Nexus 7 or Gnex. I figured it'd be better.

    Great review though, as always!

    • http://twitter.com/sibusisosishi Sibusiso Sishi

      Runs perfect on my S3 and no internet connection needed. I think some people like finding faults in everything and want a game that is perfect for them, forgetting that the game makers has to make a game that most people can find appealing.

  • smeddy

    Any game which needs an Internet connection just to launch gets a no-buy from me, and Game loft are renowned for it. It's a point of principle for me which began when I spent £5 on a game, and then tried to play it on a plane. That, along with auto launching and too much spammimg/iap spamming are cardinal sins in my view

  • exiss

    To be honest I didnt buy this game, mainly because my tablet isn't supported for some reason (Acer A200) but also because I dont trust gameloft with their games. Even tho it is a tegra 2 tablet the graphics were worse than any racing game I can think of so I had to adjust device config file myself which is gamelofts job. Still I didnt get any good look out of this game, the frame rate is terrible and when my graphics were set to maximum it was a slideshow. I find this funny because I can run Dark Meadow lag free with occasional slowdown. After getting this game for free and with graphics adjusted by myself I think its a waste of space on my tablet and I will be getting rid of it very soon. Definatelly not worth one dollar and the time wasted on installing and downloading the game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emil-Johansson/1428147693 Emil Johansson

    Works perfectly fine on my SGS3 and definitely worth that one dollar. But i agree that the "would you want to share" questions are a pain in the ass..

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Bought it on my Nexus 7 using the credit i was given, took more than 15 minutes to fully download so i couldn't get the usual refund, i played it and i was shocked how awful it was, bad graphics, runs like shit on Tegra 3 and IAP's?... Went and got a refund from play.google.com instead

  • http://twitter.com/tweet077 RonaldoVerta

    I never praise a gameloft game but I must tip my hat to these folks with this one. I am simply addicted to it. Your complaints about IAP is total BS. You don't have to spend a single cent and the game is not even that challenging. Everyone likes to complain about IAP like its the hot new thing to do. Just quite with the BS.

    The game is totally playable without spending a dime past the $0.99 price tag and your complaints about the difficulty is subjective. Maybe you just suck at playing games but the game is not so difficult that you're forced to spend money. I have raked in over one million in-game money and can buy every single car if I wanted to, and I didn't spend a nickel of my own cash.

    The game is phenomenal. Graphics are stunning and I am so impressed to be playing it on my tablet (had to side load it to my infinity). Yes the whole social integration is a bit of a pain but deal with it, it's one tap. They should definitely give us an option to disable that. As for needing to be online, that's somewhat understandable. I am sure thousands of people have already pirated it since that's the Android thing to do these days so to have it check licensing is a drag but required. Not only that, I love how you left out everything about Gameloft Live. At first I thought it was some BS social-spam thing but I was totally wrong. It allows you to sync your game progress to the cloud. I started this game on my tablet and picked up right where I was on my Galaxy Nexus. Freaking genius! Every game should do that.

    So for those looking for a quality racing game, you won't find anything better. Don't listen to anyone who tries to feed you BS about IAP. This is just something news sites are saying to get more users to read their stuff. Just like Dead Trigger, you can play this whole game without spending a single dime. This game is worth at least $3 even with the IAP.

    • RyanWhitwam

      Did you actually read the post? I didn't bitch about IAP. I said it was fine with me because it didn't feel forced. it's nice that you like the way it looks on your device, but I didn't and the screenshots illustrate that.

      • Cheeseball

        Is the online-only requirement just for the Market Check (just be online on the initial startup) or do you constantly need to be connected through data/WiFi?

        • http://twitter.com/tweet077 RonaldoVerta

          AFAIK it also syncs with Gameloft's cloud to backup your game saves so that you can pick up where you left off on your other device. But it always checks the license at boot but I heard there's a way to get around that if you really wanted to.

      • http://twitter.com/tweet077 RonaldoVerta

        "but I feel like the difficulty is tuned high specifically to encourage more buying."

        You're basically saying the game seems too difficult and that they want you to spend more money. This is subjective. I don't find the game so difficult that you need to buy anything. Perhaps I am a better gamer than you are, albeit, I don't game much at all. You're giving the wrong impression by stating that. Say that YOU found the game to be difficult and it may not apply to everyone else.

        Just surprising how much people bitch about a $0.99 game. This game is 100% recommendable and you'd be an idiot not to buy it...if you like racing games that is.

  • Mike

    local wifi multiplayer is pretty fun.. didn't feel like the cars have much gravity, just flying through a city for a few minutes.. not like i'm driving a vehicle with some mass down a road..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000372600312 Joseph Pojunis

    What racing games do you suggest, then?

    • http://twitter.com/tweet077 RonaldoVerta

      Nothing beats this game for the price. Period.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000372600312 Joseph Pojunis

        That's what I thought! Personally, I love this game.

  • http://twitter.com/easeves Mr E

    I have to admit I really like this game so far. I have Asphalt 6 too, and it seems like a bit of an upgrade, although pretty similar. I use the "tank" controls (scheme "d" i believe) and don't have any problems. The "share" and iap options are a little annoying, but tend to be easy to ignore.

  • DoubleZ

    Come on men it is only $0.99 ! we dont have any game better than this :D
    work pefect fine in my Transformer Prime and Samsung s3 !

  • FrillArtist

    A horrible Gameloft game. Shocker...

  • http://www.Mikereviews.co.uk/ Mike Brown

    HTC One X - Its unplayable. tilt controls have a HUGE dead zone and then the steering goes BATSHIT and wont disengage until you turn it 90 degrees the other way.

    12-19FPS on Tegra 3!!!!

  • siypion

    Wow guess they f'ed that game up I got asphalt 6 for 2¢ (or some other price I 4 got how much) and I love 6 plays great... Wonder what happen with this one.
    Happy I seen this review.

  • http://www.statsprofessor.org/ StatsProfessor

    That's too bad, I actually liked #6.

  • http://twitter.com/psyOPs_ psy/OPs

    You know, if you actually play the game and complete the championships you gain stars, unlock cars, and don't have to spend any further real money after the intial app purchase. I find the split control system best, where touching the left half of the screen turns left, and vice-versa for right. Graphics looks great on my Galaxy S 3 too. Maybe i'm just not expecting next generation console graphics from it? It looks somewhere between a ps2 and ps3, which is pretty impressive for a MOBILE PHONE app, really. The share with friends thing is not that annoying. So you have to tap on the screen, big deal! I often find myself sharing the occasional big achievement anyway to try to get more people playing.

  • monstercameron

    gfx are crap on my sammy galaxy tab 7.0 plus

  • http://pogue972.blogspot.com/ pogue972

    On Google Play, it said Asphalt 7 would be compatible with my Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, but it never completed the download and when it did I got error messages. I contacted Gameloft and they said it wasn't compatible and offered me any game from their library for free, but this is the only one I want to play.

    I tried to tell Google Play about their error, but I just got copypaste responses. Pretty disappointed.

  • matt

    Without network, I can still play it on my Nexus 4. I find that if I just play it once with a network connection, then after that it will play whether I am connected or not, as long as I don't disable my network connection. Even if I power off/on my phone. If I turn it the network connection to 'off', then I have to be on a network to get the game to run again. So it will run as long as it thinks there is a network connection.

  • Cerini

    Even all these months after everyone else has commented, this game clearly hasn't been given any attention by the greedy, lazy developers. Even my cheapest Android will play other racing games without choppiness, but not this. It's not because it's any great shakes either, as it's quite obviously not a patch on the likes of NFSMW or Real Racing. I could buy it again and download it onto my Galaxy, but why bother? I've not seen anything that makes it worth buying once never mind twice, and I doubt very much that even smooth frame rates would improve it much.