Asphalt Urban GT Review

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Developer: Gameloft Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: November 21, 2004 Available On: N-Gage and Nintendo DS

When Gameloft released Ghost Recon for the N-Gage, I knew they were a talented development studio. Asphalt Urban GT for the N-Gage reaffirmed this belief. Now, however, with the release of the DS version, I have doubts about their commitment to having the highest quality product. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some crap racer that you would find on most handhelds. Asphalt Urban GT is a solid street racer, with slick visuals, decent controls, and a nice variety of cars. It does have some faults that I can’t forgive though, as this is their second chance, with the release of the Nintendo DS, to fix their mistakes.

Instead of building an entirely new game, taking advantage of the DS’ superior hardware, it was decided that they port, and slightly enhance, the N-Gage version of the game. Being that I liked the N-Gage version, I will give it some slack, it is still a good game. It is just not what you would expect from the Nintendo DS. Asphalt nearly pushed the N-Gage to its limits (Colin McRae did for sure). You do not get that feeling with the DS version of Asphalt.

As I said, the DS was not specifically in mind when development for the DS version started. They ported the already-announced N-Gage version to the DS, adding a bottom-screen map, cleaner visuals, and not much else. Regardless, this is still probably the best looking DS launch title, next to Super Mario 64 DS. The cars look massive compared to their N-Gage brother. There is still fogging, and collision detection is still a serious issue in the game, that has not been tweaked.

Asphalt has a larger assortment of game options than a candy store has of chocolate. Maybe not, but there are a large number of options. You have Instant Play, Road Challenge, Free Race, Time Attack, Cop Chase, Championship, and Multiplayer. Some of these modes vary a large degree, but most are fairly similar. For instance, Instant Play is exactly what the title says. It allows you to play a game without going through any menus. Your car, track, etc. is all selected for you. Free race allows you to select your vehicle category, vehicle color, and track.

The bulk of your game will be played in two modes: Road Challenge and Championship. In Road Challenge, you are given a vehicle type that you need to master, which in-turn will unlock another vehicle type. You will be allowed to race only as that type, against that type, in a set of four races. You need to place in the top 3 to continue to the next race in the series of four.

Meanwhile, Championship is the epicenter of play. Here is where most of your time will be spent playing the game, more than likely. By winning tournaments, you can either earn money or unlock other races. You do this by falling in the top 3 places. Placing first would unlock a new race, along with award you with some cash. The cash can be used to buy new vehicles, which are required to participate in the various tournaments. The Tournament mode is separate from the Arcade mode, where all the other game modes, highlighted above, are located.

One of the more original ideas in the game was Cop Chase. In this, you drive a police car, speeding past civilians, while chasing down targeted speeders. You will have to get them in your radar zone, which is a few yards behind their vehicle. Once the red box turns red, you need to remain behind their car for three seconds, to record their speed. Once the speed is recorded, you move on to the next car. This mode is also available for multi-player.

The race for best racer on the DS has begun. So far, Asphalt GT is leading the pack, but the group only consists of two games: Asphalt and Namco’s Ridge Racer. Perhaps when Need for Speed Underground is released for the DS, we will have a game that takes full advantage of the hardware capabilities, but until then, if you are the least bit of a racer fan, and do not own the N-Gage version, I suggest giving Asphalt a spin.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7.6
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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