Of course you get a bonus for artistic impression, as you smear the entrails of an innocent pedestrian across the highway. Of course you do, why wouldn’t you? That’s what racing is about isn’t it?
As a kid growing up in the UK, we never had access to the uncensored original 1997 version of Carmageddon. Instead of fragile screaming pedestrians to run over in your spike encrusted vehicle of death, we had gloopy green blooded zombies. The game had garnered a bit of controversy before release and would only be given a certificate if all the blood was removed. The fact that back then games didn’t even need a certificate to go on sale didn’t seem to matter, developers Stainless Games had asked for one and were denied it. Blood or no blood, it was still enormously satisfying to plow through a bewildered crowd, locking the car in to a tight handbrake turn and broadsiding them for a multi-combo. The question is whether it still holds up today? Now that the novelty has worn off and games have progressed so far since the late nineties, does Carmageddon have what it takes to make an impact on your precious gaming time? (Spoiler Alert: it does.)
Racing games need multiplayer. Ever since the original Mario Kart on the SNES, multiplayer has been an absolute requirement for any game that includes a start line, finish line and some sort of motorized vehicle. That is why it is such a shame to see a game that has so much going for it, like Riptide GP, throw it all away by completely ignoring the most crucial game mode for its genre.
First, what Riptide GP does have going for it, which is a lot. It is the best 3D jet ski game currently available on the Google Play Marketplace. Partially because it is the only 3D jet ski game on Google Play, but also because everything about the game, from the graphics to the water effects to the level design to the sense of speed is extremely solid. All of the elements needed for a great racing game are here.
Furthermore, by the nature of racing on water, this is the first racing game I have played where I found the tilt controls to be tolerable, and the game was still a lot of fun without physical controls. Less precision is needed when controlling a jet ski going over wakes than a car drifting through streets and it felt a lot more natural making a character lean on a jet ski by tilting the device than it does trying to simulate driving a car.
On one level Asphalt 7: Heat isn’t much different than what we have seen a million times before. Fast, licensed cars, nitro boosts, the whole sha-bang. It is precisely that last part, however, that makes Asphalt 7 so successful in what it tries to do. It is the whole sha-bang, or at least enough of it to make the game more than worth your while. It could probably be cynically said that Asphalt 7 is shooting for the lowest common denominator, mashing together elements from various famous console arcade racing games in an attempt to appeal to every fan of the genre. If that is the cynical route you want to take, you still can’t fault Asphalt 7 on its execution. It is trying to appeal to every arcade racing fan and amazingly, it probably does.
Notdoppler.com is one of those sites, like Kongragate or Adult Swim, that gives a new flash game to play every week. These simple games are a great way to spend a couple of minutes while you’re waiting for your latest Everybody Loves Raymond supercut to render, but they rarely have the staying power of a traditionally published game relying on disposable shallow gameplay. Earn to Die is Notdoppler’s first foray in to the mobile market, bringing their flagship game to a more discerning Android user, with hopes that it will transcend it’s humble origins to become a Jetpack Joyride level hit. The numbers certainly seem to back up this goal up, at the time of writing it currently rests at the number five spot in the paid app charts, no mean feat. But whether the game has any staying power depends on the quality of the game.
The 45 minutes I’ve spent trying to write an effective lede for Slingshot Racing serve as a pretty good indicator of my feelings for the game: I should be writing. I know I should be writing. Nothing would please me more than to be a productive adult, putting words on a screen instead of guiding a tiny sled around a vicious, iced-over racetrack in pursuit of imaginary points.
Yet here I am, more than 21 years old, sitting at my desk in pajamas at two in the afternoon, shouting obscenities at a mobile phone. It’s a shameful state of affairs. Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s more surprising that I found a wife to begin with or that she hasn’t taken off on me yet.
But whatever. The game isn’t going to review itself. It’s too busy making me feel like a complete and utter failure. How? There’s absolutely no reason a title that employs one button — one single stinking button — as a control scheme should be this rewarding. Or fun. Or frustrating. It’s still very much all three of those things.
The game, based on a Flash title of the same name, has a deceptively simple premise: Your nameless Fred Durst lookalike of an avatar needs to cover a set amount of ground in his Jeep. Every time you hit a milestone, the amount of ground needing crossed increases. Along the way you gather coins (which buy upgrades, cars, and levels) and gas cans (which keep your car moving). You’ll also kill and/or paralyze Fred many, many hundreds of times if you want a decent vehicle or new levels.
Most of the neck-breaking is done by way of the game’s many hills and bridges. Not on purpose, mind you. It’s just that, in the moon-physics world of Hill Climb Racing, cars float and roll as easily as they drive. Any little incline can send poor Fred barreling end-over-end — and leave you praying the car lands on its wheels. If not, Fred’s neck goes *pop*. Then you have to do it all over again. But not before the game presents you with a snapshot of Fred’s exact moment of death, which I frankly found a little disturbing. There is absolutely no way Fred survived some of my more spectacular crashes, yet he came ready for certain death every time with a single press on the screen.
Mobile racing games never seem like a good idea- not to me, anyway. The technical limitations have always seemed too great to have a game based around speed work well outside of console and PC. Need for Speed Most Wanted surprised and convinced me otherwise. The sense of speed and stunning visuals that drew me into this series on console are emulated well in this shrunk-down version. The game has problems, though; ones that frustrated me enough that I never finished the last few races, despite the thrill of breakneck driving I was surprised to find here.
I guess I shouldn’t have been so taken aback; Firemonkeys, a mix of Australian studios Firement and Iron Monkey and EA’s go-to mobile developer for everything from Mirror’s Edge to the Real Racing series, has made a slew of racing games for Android and iOS platforms by now. Clearly, they know what they’re doing. Still, I was quite startled by how visceral and natural Need for Speed felt, mainly due to the controls. The pedal is automatically to the metal constantly, so you just tilt to steer, swipe up to use boost, one finger down on the right side of the screen to drift, and hold down on the left side if you need to break or go in reverse, though if you get to the point where you need that, you should probably just tap the pause button at the top of the screen and restart the race.
Pure driving excellence. That is the feeling that Real Racing 3 wanted to create with its latest sequel to the popular Real Racing franchise. It’s a good feeling to capture, that moment when you step into a brand new Ford GT 500 and put the pedal to the floor… a feeling of unbridled joy when you slide it around the corner at 120 mph and overtake another equally impressive vehicle. Developer Firemonkeys came incredibly close to reaching this point, but at some point a rock in the road tripped them up and caused them to simply fall flat on their face.
A lot of the problems with the game come straight from the publisher. EA’s recent desire to catch up with the market and tackle free to play has left them pushing a little too hard on their developers to include a new facet to their overall design… and this has left developers sacrificing game design principles for potential game profits. The microtransactions in Real Racing 3 are not just poorly placed, but they are poorly designed, and show a studio who has little knowledge of what to do with the freemium model. If the only problem the game had was with these transactions, it could potentially be overlooked… but the problems with Real Racing 3 are deeper and much more insidious than that.