A brilliant throw-back to a better time or a sad-sack spinoff that belongs in the garage?
Cream of the Mobile Crop
Being a fan of the racing genre as a console owner is a pretty easy and fruitful thing. You've got racing titles coming out of every gap in the market: Need for Speed, F1, Dirt, and Grid are just a few titles. Those looking for reliable quality and brilliance over time can always reach for Gran Turismo as well; console-based racing gamers simply have a banquet of games to feast on.
Release Date: 24/09/2014
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows
Things are a little more polarised on the mobile-based front however, with pickings being a little more meagre and requiring a bit of picking and choosing before you find a title that's right for you. Make no mistake about it there are quality titles out there such as CSR Racing, Racing Rivals, and Real Racing 2, all of which bring some top-quality vehicular madness to the palm of your hands. If you're looking for a truly persistent, consistent, and polished series of games however, over 95% of anyone who knows what they are talking about will direct you to the Asphalt series. The latest in the series, Asphalt Overdrive, is due for release this summer, and it promises to be somewhat of a departure from the racing sim we've come to know and love.
The Spin Has Spun
Before we even start, many fans of the series will be outraged at the title of this article having the cheek to call Asphalt Overdrive the 9th game in the series. While technically not a mistake, many fans will rightfully point out that Asphalt Overdrive is more akin to a spin-off than a true-to-form instalment that deserves a place in the main series. "Why is this game a spinoff" I hear not-so-familiar readers say? Well, you've got the 80's theme for a start, one which basically departs from the hyper-realistic racing simulator style of previous games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne and ushers in a decidedly unfamiliar atmosphere of instant-thrill gameplay that is much easier to take control of than previous Asphalt games, which are admittedly quite a complex to get to grips with for players that are unfamiliar with the way the series works.
Just one peek at Gamemob's Asphalt Overdrive preview page and the video contained with will reveal just how different the approach of Asphalt Overdrive will be. The most far-reaching departure that the game will take is from the previous format, with the detailed racing simulation being shoved aside in favour of an endless runner-type approach. Furthermore, you'll be burning countless quantities of rubber in a variety of vehicles that are alien and familiar, and all through the wonderfully sunny and nostalgic scenery of Southern California in the 1980s. Many will feel the gentle echoes of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City when playing Asphalt Overdrive; the throwback style is unmistakably GTA in nature, even if it does have a completely different approach.
Grand Theft Asphalt?
The game's format is actually more akin to GTA than one would expect from the Asphalt series however. While you won't be getting out of your car and dishing out fast-moving bullets in all directions for no apparent reason at all, Overdrive's structure is mission-based, meaning that you'll be meeting various objectives between the start and finish line including escaping the police, performing crazy stunts, and taking out other cars for various reasons (it's more GTA than I initially realised). No longer are you destined to get from point A to point B as quickly as you can whilst constrained by the ties of realistic physics and true-to-life limitations: this is an objective-based experience with smatterings of Burnout and an arcade-like pace that won't have you resting for even a second.
Lovers of vehicles hailing from the recent past will absolutely adore the fact that Asphalt Overdrive's focus is less on the traditional muscle cars and modern-day performance machines and more driven (pardon the pun) in the direction of fully-licensed vehicles that wouldn't exactly be strangers on the road of a 1980s TV show with low to medium production value. Expect vehicles like a black Trans Am, the Ferrari 308 GTS, and A-Team styled GMV Vandura van. These iconic vehicles - along with the rest of the cars in the game - are also controlled not with the usual horizontal tilt controls of Asphalt's past but with the mobile device held vertically and a swipe-to-swerve mechanism. This is yet another step away from the usual Asphalt style, and a far cry from standard keyboard/mouse-based setup of games like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.
It's Still the 9th
Will Asphalt Overdrive be too much of a departure from previous titles for die-hard fans? Most likely. Will this stop Gameloft from releasing this game and opening up the Asphalt series to fans of more casual racing games? Absolutely not. Should we refrain from calling the game Asphalt 9? Not if it annoys the pedantic readers out there who get riled up over technicalities. Just give Asphalt Overdrive a chance. It may not be ultra-realistic, but it will be nice to escape from the constraints and stresses of real life, specifically around the time of the third quarter of 2014 when this game is released.
Asphalt Overdrive is developed by Gameloft.