Monday, July 29, 2019

Asphalt Injection (Vita) Retro Review

It's been a long time, but Retro Reviews are back on SuperPhillip Central! The only difference is that a game only need be five years or older to qualify as retro instead of being a gen or two old. Regardless, Asphalt 9 is coming to the Nintendo Switch sometime soon, so I took that news and decided to check out one of the Asphalt series's many portable offerings in the meantime. Hence, here is SuperPhillip Central's retro review of Asphalt Injection for the PlayStation Vita.

Doesn't kick quite as much asphalt as it could.

The Asphalt series is no stranger to mobile devices--now with the series up to its ninth numbered installment. With the launch of the PlayStation Vita, Ubisoft and Gameloft joined forces to put the series on the platform with Asphalt Injection. Considering one can play the Asphalt games on mobile for free, there wasn't much of an incentive for launch Vita owners to invest in Injection for a full $30 entry in the series. That said, now the game is available for a much cheaper price--especially on the used circuit--Asphalt Injection is a competent and worthwhile enough arcade-style racer to check out if you've got the need for speed and already exhausted the roster of other racers on the portable PlayStation Vita platform.

Asphalt Injection comes stocked with fifteen different races that each have five unlockable versions to them. From the humble beginnings of speeding through the canals and into the Hollywood foothills of Los Angeles to the highly technical city and winding countryside circuit of Hong Kong, Asphalt Injection will take you on a racing journey around the world in its unique locations. Each track sports multiple shortcuts and alternate paths, some more obvious than others, to help shave seconds off your lap times as well as get the jump on opponents.

Who needs to go on a Ferris wheel when you're in a much more exciting ride?
The main draw to Asphalt Injection, especially as online is pretty much impossible to find anyone to play with, is the single player campaign mode. This puts you in twenty increasingly more challenging series of five events each. Some are simple races and time trials, while others are elimination-style races, one-on-one duels, drift challenges, police pursuit missions, and events where you try to cause as much destruction as possible--whether by ramming into other opponents, making them wipe out, or smashing into roadside obstacles.

Drifting isn't just great to negotiate a track's twists and turns; it's also great to earn extra cold, hard cash!
The campaign is already jam-packed with races and events for any purchaser of Asphalt Injection to get enough longevity out of, but the optional goal of earning up to five stars per event makes it that there's even more racing goodness that can be squeezed out of the game. Stars are earned for completing events beyond the minimum requirements, and beating side tasks, which range from not crashing too much, drifting a certain distance, or performing enough knockdowns--which are imposed crashes you cause on other opponents' cars.

Speaking of cars, there's a pretty solid selection of different cars to choose from. All, however, handle the exact same. The only difference is each car's top speed. The more expensive cars that unlock and become available for purchase obviously have the higher top speeds, which are pretty much mandatory to win later races. The fact that cars all handle similarly to one another can be interpreted as a good thing and a bad thing. Bad that a basic sedan handles the same as a full-fledged racing rig--which isn't the most realistic thing in the world--but good that there isn't a learning curve when switching from car to car. The latter is something you'll do a lot during the game as you earn enough money to purchase new cars and trick them out with upgrades to boosts, steering, acceleration, and more.

What a sweet ride. Could do without the Nickelodeon orange, though.
The racing itself of Asphalt Injection obviously leans more towards a casual arcade feel than anything realistic, and that is something one would expect from a series which has roots in mobile gaming and is trying to appeal to the pick-up-and-play masses. While there is the option for tilt controls and using the Vita's rear touch controls as a paddle shift of sorts, I was more comfortable using traditional analog controls, especially when the more technical and trickier of tracks entered the picture.

Asphalt Injection's handling feels nice for the most part, but when it comes to drifting, it can be hard to exit from said drifts. This turns into some slipping and sliding across the circuits, which can also lead to unintentional crashes. As for crashes, the way the game can pretty much flip a coin on whether your car crashes completely against a wall or simply bumps off it, can be a bit frustrating. Frustrating, too, is that Asphalt Injection employs a crash cam when you "knock down" another opponent. It takes away you control of your vehicle entirely, and I've had it where after the crash cam gives me back control of my car, I wind up conveniently colliding my front end into oncoming traffic.

Some events pit you against one other racer for one driven duel.
Visually, when compared to other launch titles on the PlayStation Vita, Asphalt Injection doesn't really make the best impression. It's not an ugly game, by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn't evoke any excitement whatsoever. On the audio side, you're greeted by a female voice over who does a nice job of introducing each track during their openings, but she gets rather grating as you do the actual races. I didn't particularly care to be chastised for not being able to see an oncoming driver around a blind turn and told that I "deserved" to crash. Meanwhile, the music selection is a mix of serviceable techno and electronic music, fitting for the genre but not too amazing.

Not exactly a visually stunning PlayStation Vita game, is it?
If you're going to play Asphalt Injection in 2019, just know you're going to be playing it for the single player experience. Well, that is, unless you can find someone willing to play online with you, and with even more luck, if you can find someone to play locally via ad hoc play. For a solo game and for a cheap price, Asphalt Injection has a good deal of fun to it, but it's more a game for those who have already exhausted the more prominent and positively received arcade racers in the Vita's library. As is, Asphalt Injection has some solid track design, a great deal of solo content, and strong enough gameplay to be worthwhile enough to check out.

[SPC Says: C]

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