When Reckless Racing [$0.99 / HD] hit the scene back in October 2010, we praised it for the incredible top-down racing experience it offered. Now, the folks at Pixelbite Games are back again with Reckless Racing 2 [$4.99], the long awaited sequel to this arcade racer. Improving on nearly every facet of its predecessor, Reckless Racing 2 is hands-down one of the top arcade racers I’ve ever played and is well worth the price of admission.

From a presentation standpoint, Reckless Racing 2 makes some significant changes in comparison to its predecessor. Gone are the country themes present in the music and characters (although the latter still remains somewhat in the avatars and names of your AI opponents). In its place is a stylized, clean motif complete with fast-paced music reminiscent of 80s action movies (think Top Gun). Some folks may argue Reckless Racing 2 loses some of the ‘charm’ found in the original, but I think this is a great move that moves towards a more universal appeal.

Another area that receives an overhaul in Reckless Racing 2 is its core gameplay formula. A comprehensive career mode takes center stage in this sequel, complete with 18 different cars to purchase and a plethora of upgrades available for each individual vehicle. The career mode is actually pretty standard - players race through a variety of cups containing several courses. Money is awarded after each race, with a larger monetary bonus depending on your final position at the end of the cup.

Rather than forcing players to complete cups in a sequential fashion, Reckless Racing 2 employs a Performance Index (P.I.) restriction. The higher a P.I. rating is on a car, the ‘better’ it is stats-wise. Modify your car with new parts and its P.I. rating increases. Cups have a P.I. range that your car must fit into in order to play. While it is possible to upgrade your car so it can participate in progressively harder cups, eventually its P.I. max will be reached and you’ll have to buy a new car with a higher range in order to advance to more difficulty cups. It’s a disappointing restriction for folks that become attached to cars, but I thought it was an excellent way to balance upgrades and difficulty while nudging players towards trying new vehicles.

In addition to career mode, Reckless Racing 2 features an excellent challenge mode that supplies the player with a pre-determined car and track. Race against the A.I., place third or higher, and you advance to the next challenge. I found it a great distraction from career, as it allows you to quickly race while still having goals to work towards. Rounding out the modes are single race and wifi-enabled multiplayer. While online multiplayer was pretty fun, the lobby system was a bit rough around the edges (lots of players holding up games from actually starting). An auto-join with P.I. balancing would have been nice, as well as some improvement to the ‘ready’ system.

Racing mechanics also receive substantial changes in Reckless Racing 2, exchanging the ‘floaty’ and hectic feel of the original for a driving system that imbues much more control to the player. This is also reflective in the physics system which feels more suited towards a system requiring actual driving technique. The controls work well enough within this system, but not all control schemes are equal in this sequel. The new dynamic difficulty system, which raises and lowers the overall difficulty based on performance, is another addition that moves the game towards a semblance of realism (you can turn this off if it doesn’t work for you). In some ways, you can argue that these changes make Reckless Racing 2 a bit less, well, reckless. Despite this step away from its predecessor, I think the changes have created a game with more depth and challenge than the original. The upgrade system, for instance, allows you to customize your car to suit your driving style, somewhat preserving the original Reckless Racing style of play.

One of the areas Reckless Racing excelled in was its incredibly detailed visuals. Reckless Racing 2 ups the ante with an improved graphics system that just looks pretty damn amazing. Tracks are meticulously detailed and even effects like the dirt kicking up from your wheels on the off-road portions of the track are well done. Maneuvering my car around a curve with a giant gorge at the bottom or driving along an oceanfront watching the beautiful water effects are some of the nicest graphics I’ve seen on my iPhone 4S. Add in the fact that the game runs fast and smooth (at least on the latest hardware generation), and Reckless Racing 2 would give any game a run for its money in the visual department.

I've got to give kudos to Pixelbite – it’s pretty rare for a developer to take a chance and mix up the elements of a successful game in its sequel. However, in the case of Reckless Racing 2, that risk has paid off tremendously. The comprehensive career mode, wealth of maps, and tweaks to the arcade racing formula has made this game more enjoyable in the long term. Add in the amazing visuals and music, and there’s not much to dislike here. Folks have sounded off in our forums in regards to the significant changes to the core gameplay. Personally, if these changes result in an incredibly fun to play game, then what more can you ask for?

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Inaba-kun

    I've been playing this a fair bit since it's release, and I'm just not enjoying it. I liked the original a lot, despite it's silly redneck theme, but this just feels dull and lifeless by comparison. 

    The original had really difficult, twisty little tracks. The races were ferocious and tough to win. Reckless 2 is slow, overly long, and the difficult twisty tracks are now wide, gentle, and to be frank, boring. 

    It all feels dumbed down, made easy and accessible to chase sales. It looks very nice for sure, but that's not enough.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/GHHI3VA3KODABBNYFITBQP4QAA Pal

      You haven't been playing long enough.. It starts out slow, and I was thinking the same thing. But I had faith in the developers and kept on driving. Now, after buying several cars and improving their performance, I am power-sliding all over the place on the many beautiful, some tight and twisty dirty, some flat-out street circuits, just like the original Reckless Racing. Keep driving, you will see.

    • Anonymous

      It's really not at all easy or slow when you crank up the difficulty and when you get past the half-way point of the campaign. I've played arcade and career through and the last ones are a real thrill because they are insanely fast.

      But this sequel is definitely more "racing" than "reckless" as opposed to the previous one. In the first Reckless Racing, there were all kinds of small objects and fun things scattered around. This feels like a Need for Speed game as a top-down version. The tracks are pretty generic without any real character to them. It is very sterile and definitely un-humorous. I have a lot of fun playing this game but I probably won't keep playing it for weeks and weeks like the first one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=638479749 Eric Liam

    Im using iPad 1 and it's laggy and the music is choppy.. I hope it gets fixed.. :(

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002606121963 David Schultz

      The game seems to not want to load game screens well.. Have been having trouble loading races in arcade mode.. Hope this is a temporary problem.. Am unable to compete past event 2 in arcade mode.. Other than that it is an awesome game..

  • Scape3d

    How smooth does the game play on the iPhone 4S?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/GHHI3VA3KODABBNYFITBQP4QAA Pal

      Very smooth. Absolutely perfect with no framerate problems. However, Multiplayer is sketchy at the moment, but that is due to network lag due to server overload, according to Pixelbite.

      • Scape3d

        Awesome! Thanks for the info.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        You have the most powerful mobile in the market and you ask how the game runs on it? You such a retard, ain't ya?

  • Anonymous

    This game rocks.

  • Anonymous

    how do the controls work in this game?  i was never good at controls where it depends on the direction you're facing AKA the character's POV. eg. facing south means pressing right to go right, left to go left, and up to go down (forward)

    any opinions?

    • Anonymous

      We do not have a "pull the direction you wanna go" type of control, but there's an optional chase camera that puts you behind the car at all times.

      • Anonymous

        Does that setting get a little dizzy? What other settings are there available?

      • Anonymous

        No, chase camera is great.

      • Anonymous

        thanks, yall convinced me to get it.!

    • Anonymous

      The only problem with the controls that I've found is that I've lost more than a couple races because my finger hit the wrong button and the car went the wrong way... Wish there was a wheel!

      • Anonymous

        There are 2 different wheel setups, besides the two button configurations (that you also can customize to place the buttons where you like, and as large as you like).

  • http://twitter.com/Dalie81 Dalie

    Best top-down racer to hit any platform, ever. The car physics and handling are great.

  • Anonymous

    ...iCloud? Or do you have to have two separate careers and sets of lap times?

  • Zach Math

    Is this actually iPad resolution or just uprezed and fuzzy, like a Cave "HD" game. I wish there was some way of telling this. Universal app can mean a lot of things, I have learned.

    • Anonymous

      It's actual iPad resolution.

  • Anonymous

    I can't seem to get used to the other control schemes (playing on iPad 1). The wheel and half-wheel are too "loose" imo (even after adjusting sensitivity) and obviously tilting is god awful. Thankfully, the default arrows work as they should, but I really would've wanted to use the wheel like in Mini Motor Racing; but I guess the physics in that game is WAY different here.

    That being said, I love this game. Looks beautiful, plays great, and has loads of content to keep me occupied for a very long time. Don't wait for a sale guys, this game is worth every penny.

  • P Allen

    I think the original is probably the worst top down racer I've ever played and I've been playing them since the days of the spectrum 48k. I can't understand why people liked it. Ok the graphics were reasonably impressive but the game had nothing to it.

    I'm skipping this one just based the last one.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/GHHI3VA3KODABBNYFITBQP4QAA Pal

      -1

      I wish I could click "No - this comment was not helpful".

      Also, your comment does not add to the conversation, which is a requirement for posting here.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/H2Y3UJ4IL4TGOSC6R7Y2FHAFO4 StephenS

        And who are you again?

        I found his comment to be helpful, as I felt the exact same way. He wasn't trolling, just being honest about the first installment of a franchise that he paid for. Back the eff up internet police

      • Anonymous

        I get that the first felt like a bit of a tech demo, but 'the worst ever?'. Are you kidding?? It was incredibly beautiful and the driving dynamics were amazing. It just seemed like they started to make one game, then finished a different one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=830684454 Andrej Renko

    I love this game, but the same as @NeetyNeety I would wish for a wheel that would work Mino Motor Racing. In my opinion that is the perfect way of controlling a racer like this. Can you make that happen in a future update? It would make the game basicly perfect. 

    • Anonymous

      As you wish. :) Directional steering wheel will be implemented.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crazyklayguy Nathan Pedro Smith

    I spent $4.99 on this app this morning on my iPad 1 and it's unplayable. Whenever I try to start up a race, I get the load screen and then it quits and goes back to the home screen. Being one of the more expensive games on the app store, I'm extremely disappointed and pretty annoyed, I feel like I've wasted my money.

Reckless Racing 2 Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 5