Yesterday we posted a quick "first look" at Gameloft's just-released iPhone racer Asphalt 4 Elite Racing [App Store].  We've since spent more time with this title and wanted to share our thoughts.

Asphalt 4 Elite Racing is a 3D auto racing game that features 28 different vehicles (Corvette, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bugatti to name a few) and nine different venues (New York, Paris, Dubai, Shanghai, etc.).  The iPhone version of the game is a port of the original mobile version which is available for a wide variety of platforms.

Asphalt 4 is more of an arcade-style racer akin to the Ridge Racer series than a realistic, simulation-style game such as Gran Turismo.  The goal of the game is to acquire cash by way of savvy play style, goal completion, and more or less breaking the law: "Perform illegal acts to get cash, boosts, and live TV time!"  New venues and performance tweaks are unlocked along the way as cash is accumulated.

Asphalt 4 is a rather aggressive affair.  In-game Nitro Boosts (which are used frequently) provide a speed burst and allow for "takedowns" of other vehicles, which bring bonuses to the player.  Frequent takedowns and general on-road mayhem will get the police on your tail but, happily, cops are valid takedown targets, as well.  A big part of the game is "drifting" (Ridge Racer style), and a mastery of the technique results in accrued bonuses.

The game can be played in either portrait or landscape orientation and three modes of control are available: a tap mode where steering is performed by touching the left or right side of the screen, a tilt mode that utilizes the iPhone's accelerometers for steering, and a steering wheel mode (shown in the accompanying YouTube video) in which a finger or thumb can be used to guide an on-screen steering wheel for vehicle control.

Asphalt 4 features the most lavish 3D graphics of any iPhone racer--of any iPhone game, really--in the App Store.  The levels and vehicles are highly detailed and exhibit truly console-class graphics--but this comes at a price.  While gameplay is generally smooth with an acceptable framerate, slowdowns occasionally surface and detract somewhat from the overall game experience.  What's more, the current version suffers occasional crashes out to the home menu, but the game's automatic progress saves prevent any real loss of achievements when these occur.

Asphalt 4 has seen rave reviews amongst early adopters, but is in need of an update to address the crashing issue and, ideally, performance tweaks to address slowdowns when on-screen action is particularly intense.  That said, Asphalt 4 is my favorite iPhone racer overall and fans of “drifting” racers should be particularly fond of the title.  The numerous achievements and unlocks give Asphalt 4 the depth of a console game, ensuring long playability and value for its $9.99 asking price.

Game Details
Name: Asphatl 4 Elite Racing (v1.2.0) Price: $9.99 [Buy]
Developer: Gameloft Size: 98.2MB
In Brief: Asphalt 4 Elite Racing is an aggressive, fast paced 3D racer featuring a wide variety of vehicles and racing venues.  It offers the most impressive graphics of any App Store offering, but could do with an update to address stability.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://- brian

    tried this. It felt like a mobile game rather than a console game not like ridge racer on psp, but upon hearing this is a port i can see why.

    I think the game is good and is the best racer on iphone at the moment, it shows that when they actually produce an exclusive racer for it it will be excellent, as the spec of the iphone looks good on paper anyway.

    This would also answer why the sky after the rome and after level are only half way up the screen and the rest is black, maybe it needs to be upscaled to fit the screen.

  • http://www.alex-hardy.co.uk Alex

    I bought it and, now I've got the hang of the accelerometer controls, find it a lot of fun.

    They really need to sort out the crashing and frame rate problems. I also could have done without the 'ladies' - I'm not 14 years old anymore and found that a bit lame.

  • AIM-R8

    So far, game hasn't crashed on me, although I've experienced the slowdown when too much is happening on-screen. I have experienced the sky being black halfway up like brian said though, which is a bit annoying. Still one of the best racers on the iPhone by far nevertheless.

  • Oliver

    I noticed that the framerate is smooth, unless the iPhone is doing "something else". Like checking mails. So disable the background stuff.

  • MilesO'Toole

    Your review says there are nine venues but by my count there are 12, unless I'm missing something?

    • John Lubbad

      Can someone please, tell me, how to get to other road races? also does it save all you information? I have finished 2nd in LA race 3 times, and 1st once, but it only shows me only finishing 1st once? is their a way to save your information? it saves my money (about $753k) and car type, etc. Also what else can I use money for? to buy more cars? I can't figure out how to trick out your car? I really want to do a different road race? but can't figure out how to get one?

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  • Nagromme

    No crashes (well, plenty on the road, but not on the phone!) and I'm actually learning to win sometimes!

    I like the motorcycle I've earned. Seems more fun than the cars somehow.

  • Klaus

    Hi - I cannot get the game to work in landscape mode - as a single player (not the multiplayer version) how did you get that to work? The portrait orientation is driving me nuts because of the restricted field of vision.... thanks for your help, Klaus

  • Stan

    Some say there are nine venues, and some say there are 12, but I can get only one—Los Angeles. How do you access the other venues?

  • MilesO'Toole

    @stan - win races, earn cash. That unlocks other cars and cities.

  • slappy

    So if I put the iPhone on Airplane mode, it should be a smooth game play. Well for any games then.

  • ArtOfWarfare

    :(

    I have split fillings on this...

    one side of me (the nooby developer,) is saying that I'm moving way too slow and I'm screwed if I don't get some games out the door soon... and I'm probably screwed even if I do that because the graphics are garbage compared to this...

    the other side says, horrah! Real games are finally coming to the iPhone!

    ... Of course... I'm not a big fan of either type of racing game that you mentioned.

    The only racing game I enjoy is F-Zero GX. I've never found another racing game even close to as exciting. These realistic games are barely any more fun than driving on the high way in real life (you've got the speed... the cops... and the sense that you're never actually going anywhere new... about the only thing you're not doing is crashing into other people.)

  • Oliver

    Well, take a look at PapiJump and PapiRiver. Or iCave. Squares. CubeRunner. TouchTennis. Galcon. Colony. Tris. MetaSquares. These are really great games. The graphics are not perfect, sometimes not even polished, simple most of the time, but it fits these games and works well.

    On the other side, when devoloping a racing game, a space shooter, a jump and run game, I expect nice graphics and a polished game play*. It depends on the genre and the type of game.

    I also love retro games (TouchTennis being the best example for that, or even Frotz), but don't try do be somewhere between retro and current. This won't work well.

    Polished gameplay also means:
    - Respect the mute button of the iphone
    - Sound controls for iPod touch users
    - Accelerometer controls for sensitivity and calibration
    - Way to seperately disable game music and sound effects
    - Leave my iPod running, when I disable game music, but keep game sounds playing on top of my music
    - pause when pressing home, power/hold, getting a phone call or switching to the sms app
    - Fast startup times, without videos, logos and other stuff
    - Display the clock somewhere, if the user wants it
    - Don't put dangerous dialog buttons directly under the finger, which opened the dialog

    Many developers still don't get that.

  • SteveJ

    Once again we have a $9.99 app without a demo available. This is even more of a problem for this type of game. I have Cro-Mag rally and while it's a nice tech demo, it just isn't all that fun to play. I have to have some real solid evidence that an iPhone racing game is truly a lot of fun before I'm willing to pay $10 for another one. Reviews alone don't do it for me. I've got a really well reviewed game (averaging about 4.5 stars still), that I just don't like at all (Trism.)

    We need universal demos. The AppStore should be designed around the idea of demos. All paid apps, regardless of price, should be required to have a demo available and the demo version should be available from the full app listing. You wouldn't have regular and "Lite" versions, you would have one version, with a demo available from within that listing. Then the demo apps would have a link back to the app listing and the AppStore should let you "upgrade" to the full version, replacing the demo version, in one step.

  • http://madmelo.blogspot.com madMELO

    Asphalt 4 Elite Racing is super dope.
    I love it! totally with the 9.99
    NO need to demo just buy it

  • http://www.visionaryart.biz nanokiwi

    Asphalt 4 is the bomb!
    Spectacularly polished all round
    Best game for iphone / ipod touch so far

  • awesome-o

    how do you save the game!!!!!?????????????

    Pls pls reply back I'm having troy me saving the game.
    After the race I go back to main menu and there isn't a save option so when I click back out using the home button on my iPod touch and click the app again I start from zero (only 3 cars!!)

    Pls a quick response will be much appreciated

    Thanks

  • Stan

    Other than the Nitro boosts, how do you increase the speed of your car in this game? Is the speed increased when you tilt the phone forward and decreased when you tilt it back toward you as in some of the other racing games?

  • !!!!

    H O W D O Y O U S A V E G A M E ?

  • Stan

    I can't seem to get ahead in this game, apparently because I don't understand the game play and objectives. No matter how successfully I race, I come in sixth or seventh. I think I'm under a misconception because i try to avoid crashes with other cars. Is the objective of the game to create as much havoc as possible rather to simply come out ahead, as with other racing games?

  • awesome-o

    Yes you need to take other cars out, and keep on using nitro and drifting so u get more nitro.

    H o w
    Do
    You
    Save
    The
    Game
    Progress

    When I finish a race, press home button then go on he game again it has been deleted and I always have to play from scratch, driving me nuts
    - . -

  • Scratch Monkey

    Is anyone having trouble with the multiplayer game? When playing another player on my own network, I have been unable to finish a race. I keep getting an error 'Waiting for client'. The person I am racing keeps playing while I wait but the connection never comes back. Further, I can fine no support for this game. The developer's website is nothing more than a brochure for their products.

    Otherwise, I love the game.

  • http://www.freshclickmedia.com Shane

    Looks pretty, but the touchscreen gaming experience still feels like a massive compromise in the important area of feedback and overall control for games like this that need it.

  • macusernick

    @ SteveJ

    So you are thinking of a system like the Xbox Live Arcade where every game has a demo, and then you can just go straight to buying the full game from there... Apple could easily do that too, they already control what games get in, just build the architecture for it and make the devs follow it.

  • Michael

    i absolutly love this game, but i too have the black sky thing, also ive noticed a couple other things, ive finished first place a couple times and it would say i finished 3rd or 4th or something i dunno why that is

    also it seems the corvette and the zr1 (at least upto unlocking the mustang is where i am) seem to be the most all around cars fastest over everything has anyone else noticed that?

  • Michael

    so im curious

    who has the most

    money? ive got $1,444,800

    fastest car? my top speed was in the corvette zr1 at 296 with x3 nitro

  • flo

    mmh, I think you can't get past 2 million. top speed was something above 400, at least 420 i think.

  • G_G

    Does this look more like Sega Saturn game to you guys or PSX? I can't decide. But with an eye closed I can see a bit of Turbo Graphics 16 in that screenshot.

  • Gregz0r

    I'd say it's Saturn quality, yeah, but they *really* need to sacrifice some detail, to get the framerate up to a consistent 25-30fps. Framerate is key in any racing game.

  • andy

    O
    M
    F
    G
    ~~~~

    HOW DO YOU SAVE THE GAME!?!?!?!?!

    ~~~~

    It always restarts me!!!

  • gdogg

    How do u save the game! every time i click the home button and relaunch the appllication, it loses all my data. how??!!!??

  • tony orlando

    my game seems to automatically save. i poked around and couldn't find any on/off option for that.

    perhaps the update i just got fixes that, though it appears that the update's main function was to put advertisements for other gameloft titles in asphalt 4. lame.

  • ross

    bullshit everytime i open the game it freezes
    i put my iphone on airplane mode and it still freezes
    this sucks waste of money
    i have tried to open it so many times it rediculous

  • boydie

    I can't open asphalt 4 elite racing. it satrts to boot up then when touch screen to start appears it goes blank and reverts to home page on iphone. any ideas/help?

  • mike

    boydie, i get the same problem sometimes. moreover, nyc doesnt wanna load. dunno why.

    i get some msg during the race that i cant figure out.

    what does "so you can drift" mean? is it ironic? cuz whenever i get that msg i dont think my drifts were that bad. i mean, sometimes when i get "fantastic drift" i dont thin it s that great bc i hit the wall or sth and it still says "fantasitc drift" :)

    does "ownage" mean that i took out two cars simultaneously?

    what about "unstoppable"? i get almost every time i take out a single car.

    what about "yeah" and "road rage"?

    how does "you got the skill" differ from "fantastic drift"? does it imply that i drifted longer or what?

  • http://ady4eversteaua@peperonity.com Ady76

    Please someone tell me what song/artist is used as the soundtrack of Asphalt 4? I really like it but i can't remember the name of the song. Pls. Send me a reply at adyshor1976@yahoo.com THANKS.

  • Vette2k7

    I can't seem to get past level 92. I have won at least 25 races on level 92 and it won't go to 93! WTF? By the way I have all vehicles except the last 2 and I have all the mods. I also have over $15,000,000. What's left to get to level 93?????

  • Joe d

    I really enjoyed this game. After level 92 I also started having problems leveling up but then I started doing races I haven't done yet and after like 4 races I leveled up to 93.every level after 92 you have to win 4 races that you haven't done before. I got to level 100 and unlocked the bugatti veron so I think that if you'd still stuck on level 92 then ty races that you haven't done yet it may take a while but it's worth the bugatti!! The overall game was awsome I just got to level 100 ten minutes ago so I am still hyped about the car gameplay is great and the customizeable cars are cool to I reccomend this game to anyone who has the time to enjoy this game!!!!!

  • Joe d

    Btw I finished with over 16 million dollars to anwser michaels question and my bugatti goes 370 after x3 nitro

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  • Gawainzl

    Heh i got to level 95 before i had to do different races... btw why is the Kawasaki ZX-10 faster than the Chevrolet Corvette? and when ur on the zx-10 when u smash into taxis and stuff they go flying.........