Asphalt: Urban GT Multiplayer E3 2005 Hands-On Report

Gameloft waves their magic wand at E3. Poof! Real-time multiplayer works on mobile.

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We were familiar with the capabilities of Verizon's next-generation EV-DO network before the show, but we were skeptical that it wouldn't be fast enough for decent real-time multiplayer mobile games--even with its dramatically reduced latency numbers. Well, guess what? Gameloft has proven the new network's capability with its multiplayer version of Asphalt: Urban GT.

We ran a quick network race against the game's producer on a pair of EV-DO-enabled LG VX8000 handsets. It worked flawlessly and without discernible lag at any point--we could have just as easily been playing over Xbox Live or Wi-Fi. Asphalt: Urban GT was already a cool mobile game in its single-player incarnation, and the addition of four-player races will probably boost it into the realm of the superb. Gameloft has added a few important touches to make the multiplayer experience more enjoyable, too. For instance, there's a blue distance meter that'll tell you how close you are to your nearest human opponent. Gameloft has also cooked up its own lobby system, where you can search for your friends, set up games, and check rankings.

Gameloft is first to market with real-time multiplayer technology, and it has done it justice. Asphalt: Urban GT and Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm were great games to begin with, and they're going to benefit immeasurably from the inclusion of multiplayer. Of course, there are still major questions to be answered, such as the availability of free upgrades for those who bought the previous versions of the games, and the price of using up so much airtime. But a major barrier has fallen at E3, and the connected potential of mobile games is no longer mostly hypothetical. These games will be reviewed in the very near future, so stay posted for updates.

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