Just what the racing game world needs: another Asphalt game.
Forgive my cynicism, but this marks the eighth installment of the Asphalt mobile games, a series that is churned out in quick succession by Gameloft but continually shows little in the way of evolution.
Asphalt 8: Airborne could be the exception, however.
A refined version of the series' staple arcade handling that allows you to effortlessly glide around corners at high speed returns, but with an added twist that quite literally elevates its physics into OTT territory. Before you get excited, no there won't be Back to the Future-style flying cars as the Airborne subtitle implies, but the physics have been reworked to incorporate a new-found emphasis on airborne stunts, as you'll be spending much of your time in the air performing jumps, barrel rolls, flips and spins in the midst of a race.
Graphically, Asphalt 8 looks to be a significant step up, too. The new trailer showcases some advanced lighting and particle effects from the new vehicle damage for a mobile game.The tracks also look more vibrant an exotic than ever before, with new locations including.the dusty trails of the Nevada desert and the icy roads of Iceland so you can reenact the scene in Die Another Day, along with old favourites such as London and Tokyo. Dust, snow and rain effects will apparently have adverse affects on the handling.
Naturally, synchronous and asynchronous multiplayer is in, featuring two new modes: Gate and Infected. Gate has you drifting through gates in order to keep your high score multiplying, whereas infected essentially plays like a game of Driver: San Francisco's frantic tag mode, where one player is "it" and has to pass on the infection by hitting other players. Fail to do so within 20 seconds, and it's game over.
Asphalt 8 certainly has potential to offer some cheap, cheerful and fun mobile racing that looks visually impressive, and it's good to see Gameloft at least try to inject something new into the long-running series. Factor in the fact it will retail for just $0.99 when it launches this summer on iOS and Android, and it will be hard to resist such a gloriously OTT arcade alternative to Real Racing 3.