Asphalt Injection Review

Asphalt Injection (Available exclusively on PS Vita)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-8
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Gameloft
Release Date: February 14, 2012
PSN: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Asphalt Injection E10+ for everyone over the age of ten.  Their disclaimer says the game contains mild violence and tobacco reference.  Cars indeed smash into each another, and there are cop chases and elimination modes, but this is more of a racing than car combat game.

Plays Like: Any 3D racer since the PS1 days.

Review Basis: Messed with all the gameplay mode, but was unable to test multiplayer. Apparently no one on the planet has yet to want to play online.

Like Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, Asphalt Injection was first an iOS game, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline to be exact.  Asphalt 6 is available for an assortment of mobile devices at $.99, while the Vita version sells for $29.99 (cart) / $26.99 (digital download).  Does the Vita release trounce the other versions in the series to justify the significant premium?

The Great:

Hands-down the best Asphalt. The series has appeared on virtually every mobile and portable device for years, but hasn’t felt as smooth or refine as it does in Injection.  A variety of control schemes include traditional input (analog stick or d-pad), sixaxis motion, and rear-trackpad shifting…the choices available are impressive.

The Good:

+ Gameplay variety.  You don’t simply dash to the finish line, you might have to eliminate the opponents, escape the police, collect the most money on the track, and so on. Each race type awards up to five-star ratings, which challenges players to fulfill certain tasks while competing.

+ Licensed cars. Ferraris, BMWs, Lamborghinis and Audis are featured, adding some bling to the fun arcade gameplay.

+ Loads of content.  With over 100 different events to tackle, tons of cars to unlock and a simple leveling system, you could sink weeks into Injection. There’s even a tune-up shop for those that like to customize every inch of their ride(s).

+ Eight-player supported online. It’s a great addition, but sadly I couldn’t test it at the time of this writing.

The So-So:

+/- Each track contains shortcuts. It’s nice to have help if you’re behind, but they’re too easy to discover, so the joy of doing so falls tremendously.

+/- Track variety. Lots of tracks is nice, but not when we’ve seen them from previous Asphalt games. It shows a lack of creative effort.

+/- Injection is the best-looking Asphalt, but it certainly doesn’t push the Vita. Comparing Injection to Asphalt 6 on my iPhone 4S yields minimal differences. If anything, Injection looks like a high-res iOS game because of the lack of destructible environments and refined car detail.

The Bad:

– Cars aren’t unique.  They look different, but that’s the only distinguishing factor. Every vehicle feels identical.

– Little punishment. If you slam into a wall, you’ll either wreck or simply bump off it. This makes races too easy.

– Confusing menu. You can view cars in the garage, but not jump into any. There’s no tune-up shop either.  Instead these options are exclusive to the career mode just before you race. These elements should’ve been broken up for simplicity’s sake.

The Ugly:

Tighter controls and more refined visuals don’t justify a $29 increase between Asphalt 6 and Injection.  That’s way too much for what little has changed.

The Lowdown:

Asphalt Injection is a decent racing game that brings variety, tight control and a wealth of content, but it’s only a modified iOS title that’s been available for over a year now. It’s hard to recommend the Vita release because this series has graced countless other portables, and almost always at a fraction of the price.  This is another example of a game that should’ve been a $10 digital-only release, not $29 higher.

Average Score Scale: 6 (+/- 1) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 6/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +1 Inflation: You’ve never played Asphalt and want to race on your brand-new Vita.

Reason for -1 Deflation: You’ve played any other Asphalt games on a mobile device.

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