We’ve had our share of great arcade racers on iOS lately and CitiRacing [$0.99] looked to continue that trend. With good locales and solid foundational gameplay, it seemed to be on the right track, too. Unfortunately, missteps in terms of replayability, redundancy and a lack of online multiplayer hold this game back from shifting into a higher gear.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get into a race in CitiRacing is its distinctly urban environments. More importantly, the game does a decent job of making you feel like you’re racing on city streets. Tracks range from downtown streets (complete with parked cars to avoid and skyscrapers that occasionally block your view) to freeway overpasses to even a farmers’ market. CitiRacing isn’t strictly a metropolitan affair either, as some stages also take you to beach towns and snowy suburbia.
Another solid aspect about CitiRacing is the gameplay itself. Races play out somewhat similar to Reckless Racing 2 (to toss out a recent racing game), but with a greater emphasis on drifting. I also enjoyed the physics – vehicles can (and will) flip, roll and barrel out of control if you’re not paying attention. Control-wise, CitiRacing only has one control scheme. I personally had no problem with it, but it would have been nice to have a few more options.
You’ll be racing through these maps via a standard ‘Championship’ cup single-player mode. Each cup has a variety of stages that has racers earning points based on finishing position. Do well and you unlock extra vehicles and the next set of tracks. A single race mode also allows you to replay any map that you’ve unlocked.
Championship mode works well enough, but it’s somewhat barebones. There’s no cash/upgrade system like other similar racers. While each vehicle handles differently, there’s no stat line that actually shows the differences. Also, CitiRacing is extremely easy; most players will easily take the gold on the normal difficulty (‘easy’ difficulty is pretty much a joke), with only some challenge on hard mode. All these translate into a game that doesn’t have as much replayability as it should.
Continuing this trend are the tracks themselves. While CitiRacing boasts 45 different tracks in its description, it’s not that simple. In reality, there are 15 different tracks, each with three different orientations (with one of those three taking place in a night setting). Each orientation changes both the camera angles as well as starting positions. Most maps do a good job making each orientation feel different, but it’s still obvious that you’re playing the same map several times.
Visually, CitiRacing’s graphics mostly get the job done. There’s nothing particularly fancy about overhead cartoony visuals but it works well with the overall game. There are a few hiccups, such as the occasional inability to discern between changes in elevation (which can cause your car to lose control if you aren’t paying attention), but overall there’s not much in terms of gameplay detraction. The same goes for the game’s framerate, which runs at a smooth clip with little slowdown.
In addition to its single player offerings, CitiRacing also has local multiplayer via Bluetooth or WiFi. Up to six players can participate in a match (either single races or Championship) and you can substitute CPU drivers for any open spots. Despite some lag and an errant disconnect, I found local multiplayer to be entertaining. However, the lack of an actual internet multiplayer feature will most likely prevent a lot of folks from even checking out this mode.
CitiRacing feels like a game perpetually on the edge of being great. This theme seems to permeate most aspects of the game, from the multiplayer to the tracks and beyond. As it is, I still had an enjoyable time with CitiRacing and would recommend it for racing fans simply because of the locales and core gameplay. However, folks looking for the next racing masterpiece will end up looking elsewhere.