The Latest

Asphalt Injection Review

When Ubisoft announced that it would be publishing a handful of GameLoft’s smartphone titles for the PlayStation Vita, I thought it was a fantastic idea. Finally, a dedicated portable would have some quality budget games to help it compete with the popcorn games of the iPhone and Android platforms. What we got instead were full-priced ports of next-to-free games.

Asphalt Injection isn’t a direct port of Asphalt 6 for the iPhone/Android/MacOS/Symbian/ToasterOven platforms, but to the feature sets are similar enough that the word “port” still applies. Although controls are of course mapped to the Vita’s traditional buttons and analog sticks, Injection still maintains the option to use the accelerometers to steer, for people who are now used to playing racing games on the iPhone or the Wii. There is also a neat control method that allows the driver to use the backtouch panel as a paddle-shifter. None of the control schemes are egregious, which makes it easy to jump in and enjoy a quick game. The jump-in, jump-out style of mobile game is what GameLoft has always done best, and Injection definitely fits that bill. Races are generally quick, allowing commuters to fit a game into even the shortest of bus rides.

Asphalt Injection narrowly holds its own against other contemporary racers, like Ridge Racer. Even when held up against PSP titles, like Burnout Legends it’s hard to find the game’s appeal. There are almost a dozen race types, from Elimination to Time Attack, and just shy of 50 cars to collect. The tracks are rarely challenging, and the computer-aided opponents take the term “rubberband AI” hilariously literal. During a “Wanted” event, Hot Pursuit-style race against the coppers, I pulled ahead of the police, only to have a squad car shoot past me, at what must have been mach 6 in order to be in position for the next roadblock. The tracks themselves look nice as they whizz by, but the twists and turns are a tad too generous to require a lot of skill or strategy. The touchy controls and goofy AI give the game an arcade feel, but unfortunately, the entry-level of challenge keeps it from ever feeling tense or exciting.

If I were playing this game on a cellphone, I would have to point out how stunning the visuals look on my 3” LED screen, but since I am playing on the same 5” OLED screen I used to play Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Uncharted, I have to say the opposite feels true on the Vita. The game does look markedly better than a PSP title, but doesn’t really live up to the potential of the Vita. Some of the textures are pixelated and muddy, especially the car decals – which are displayed front-and-center at the start of every race. There are almost 50 licensed cars to choose from, which look nice, but seem to use the same reflective techniques that wowed us when the PS2 first came out. If you want, you can take a closer look at them in your garage, which features a first-person mode in which you walk around a few of your cars and…well that’s it. You just walk from one end of the room to the other.

By this point I’ve suckered you into reading 3 paragraphs that say “this game is okay, all things considered” – which is true – but the real point I want you to take away is this: There is no possible way to justify spending $30 on a 99c game. Buying a copy of Asphalt 6 and setting a $20 bill on fire is literally a better deal than spending $29.99 on Asphalt: Injection. The few additions such as a handful of new cars and even the Vita controls themselves are not worth paying a 3000% premium. Judging from colleague reactions to Ridge Racer and Modnation Racers, Asphalt: Injection may seem like the lesser of three evils for racing fans, but I would personally rather buy the same game, for a device I already own for myself and 29 of my closest friends than spend the full $30 on a wholly forgettable racing experience for my shiny new Vita. I suppose the best option for race-fans is to pick up Burnout Legends on PSN, and form a holding pattern until the holidays.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

21 comments

  1. Stretch Armstrong

    MORE Vita games? Man, you guys are going Sony-loco!

  2. I think they would have sold more copies if they DIDN’T put a demo up on PSN. Played one round and realized I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for the privilege of playing this on the Vita.

    • Yeah, grabbed the demo and I couldn’t believe how bad the game was. The first time I crashed into a car, I was like, “WTF is this shit”?

    • Its a little old at this point, but a study from a few years back showed that releasing a demo actually hurts sales.

      http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/04/14/study-publishers-shouldnt-release-demos-just-trailers/

      • Take an outdated analysis from EEDAR with a grain- no a shaker of salt. I’ve seen some of their work, and their sample size is often WAY TOO SMALL to really support some of their ‘findings’.

        In one case, the quality of the demo and the quality of game are two HUGE factors that are TOTALLY ignored (Sure they are hard to quantify, but still…)

        The number of demo downloads to full game purchases weren’t compared either. Basically, you put out a really enjoyable demo and people notice your product. I think many copies of Amalur was bought by people because of the quality of the demo, not because of EA’s weak marketing for the game.

        Separating the attitudes of PS3 and Xbox 360 owners seems strange as well. Again, EEDAR didn’t indicate if games were platform exclusive, whether there was demo on both systems, etc. Anyone paying for EEDAR’s analysis services (at $10,000-$40,000 a pop) should just buy a Magic 8-ball.

        • Is Michael Pachter any better? Does he even use data?

          • I really don’t know his methodology. He might just be an analysis which keeps current on industry stats and trends and give his predictions accordingly.

        • It makes anecdotal sense – back when I had a subscription to PC Gamer, I didn’t really buy a lot of PC games. I tended to get my fill from the demos, and even if I really liked a demo, I usually got enough of a taste that I didn’t feel the urge to go spend money on MORE of that.

          Come to think of it, the times that a demo HAS led me to purchase a game have been so few that they kinda stick out in my head. Metal Gear Solid was one, as was Toy Commander for the Dreamcast. I’m not saying I don’t APPRECIATE a demo – I’m just saying that I don’t think it makes good business sense. For the most part, demos just end up as teasers to hold me off on a game that I’ve already decided to purchase, like Space Marine or Mass Effect 3. I think a good trailer, or better yet a good sale, makes a much bigger impact on my buying habits than a good demo. Nothing worse than getting an hour into a demo and saying “okay, that’s all I need of this.”

          Again, that’s just anecdotal. I’m sure it’s different for other people.

  3. I work at Gamestop and a guy called the other asking for “Ass crack Erection”. I laughed so hard that customers must have thought I was crazy.

  4. It seems like whenever a new system launches they are opportunists waiting to nab those people who buy everything.

  5. A Burnout game for Vita would be great. I really hope EA/Criterion is working on one.

  6. The game is so bad they have to advertise it in-game?

  7. Sounds pretty horrible.

  8. Thanks, SNOLA. I was actually thinking about buying this one blind.

  9. I’m not buying not only because it sucks, but also because Gameloft is lame and rips off games. Want to play a generic Prince of Persia, Assassins Creed or Call of Duty- that have you covered with shitty versions of each.