Reviewed: April 13, 2011
Released: March 27, 2011
Every game available at every system launch has a distinct advantage: Thereís nothing else to compete with. Gamers with a craving for a particular genre who are excited about their fancy new console are likely to buy a title because of its genre, regardless of the gameís actual quality. Gameloftís Asphalt 3D for the Nintendo 3DS has the advantage of being a launch title, but it isnít alone. If Asphalt 3D wants to reign supreme as the obvious choice for racing fans, itís going to have to do a lot better.|
Initially, the game looks very promising. Loads of real-life cars to unlock and a variety of custom parts to buy and install suggest the game has a lot of playtime behind it, and I canít deny that this is one major point in favor of the game. The cars themselves look good, and if you have an attentive eye, you can even make out some of each carís interior through the dark windows.
Unfortunately, the race tracks themselves donít look like anything special. In fact, when compared to the iPhone installments in the Asphalt series, the 3DS version of the game is visibly worse. The iPhone may be more powerful than most people give it credit for, but thereís no reason why the 3DS version should appear to be given such a lazy treatment in comparison. The game has a surprising number of loading screens that pop up whenever you enter a new track, but also when youíre just plain browsing the available cars. This only serves to further compound the feeling that Asphalt 3DS was a rushed job.
The content of the actual gameplay involves, as one might guess, racing cars around a track, with the winner being the one to be the first to complete three laps around the track. These tracks are set in approximations of real world locations. You share the road with these cars, but unlike you, they obey the speed limit, which creates one of the more frustrating elements of gameplay. The gameís environmental draw distance is nothing unusual, but the other cars on the road arenít drawn until youíre nearly on top of them. This leads to many frustrating moments when you suddenly spot a pair of headlights pop out in front of you and you have only half a second to dodge the offending vehicle. This is, of course, assuming the vehicleís facing you. Otherwise, itíll be a lot harder to see.
Once you eventually hit another car hard enough to take it out, youíre treated to a slow motion view of the crash from some dramatic camera angle. This is neat the first time it happens, but it wears out its welcome quickly. After the first few collisions, youíre annoyed that youíre being taken out of the flow of the race to watch this happen. A few more, and you start to realize that the camera itself here is awful, zoomed in far too closely and the cars smashing into each other or failing to do so at improbable angles.
There are other gameplay modes aside from these straight-up races. Some are built around you eliminating other cars from the race through crashing, while others have goals that are a little stranger, such as gathering a certain number of money pick-ups before finishing the race, regardless of the place you actually finish in. The developers certainly tried to inject some variety into the racing, but a bit carelessly. In the money pickup trials, for example, thereís no reason to go fast other than impatience. The ideal strategy would be to go slowly and grab everything, or even do a U-turn if you miss out on anything.
Asphalt 3D is a game that was a wasted opportunity, and it bothers me to see content being confused for quality. This is a game with a lot of content. Itís got multiplayer, loads of game modes, tons of car unlocks, and custom parts, but the actual playing of the game fluctuates between boring and aggravating. The worst part is that Asphalt 6 on the iPhone costs $5 and looks and probably plays better than this $40 installment of the series. If you want a racing experience on the 3DS, I hear Ridge Racer is a lot better. Donít waste your time or money with Asphalt 3D.