Asphalt: Urban GT tore up the N-Gage and Nintendo DS last year, providing an enjoyable, arcade-style racing environment in the process. While a two-dimensional version of the game has graced lesser mobiles, the new LG VX8000 is capable of nitro burning in full 3D. Accurate driving mechanics have once again been eschewed in favor of pure speed. It's nice, then, that Asphalt zips along at a healthy 20-plus frames per second and features some great blur effects when you hit that all-important turbo boost. On a console, Asphalt's driving mechanics would be conventional to a fault. On mobile, however, this is a game that's more polished than the vast majority of its competition.
Racing exotic cars along the world's most beautiful boulevards is an activity ordinarily reserved for eccentric, adrenaline-loving billionaires, such as Virgin's Sir Richard Branson. Finally, more reticent billionaires can simulate this experience on their $350 phones. Asphalt: Urban GT features a host of slick vehicles--all meticulously modeled--ranging from the cute Audi TT Roadster to cars you wouldn't ordinarily see outside of a showroom floor. Perhaps because these vehicles are licensed, you won't see much in the way of damage modeling, but each car's speed and handling are loosely based on the real deal.
"Loosely" is the key word here, because you'll spend much of your time powersliding into other vehicles and generally comporting yourself in a way that would never fly on the real Champs-Elysées. There's no better way to perpetuate the "ugly American" stereotype than by driving erratically through France's most populous city. On a mobile phone, however, this behavior is perfectly acceptable, and even a little cathartic.
You can play the game in arcade mode, which tosses you right into the action, or work through evolution mode, which requires you to earn new vehicles and advance in a series of championship races. This latter mode is ultimately more rewarding, but it requires a considerable time investment. These are tough races, and you'll likely have to retry each one several times.
Although the 8000's digital keypad isn't ideal for simulating an analog steering wheel, Asphalt's control is manageable. You'll have to use two hands, however--the keypad should be used for braking, nitro boosting, and acceleration control, while the navigation bar should be used for steering. Players with larger hands might feel cramped by this setup, but they'll get over it.
Asphalt's intelligent use of motion blur makes it look plenty fast. In fact, this version of the game looks almost as good as its N-Gage counterpart. While some of the textures lack polish, the car models all have benefited from a great deal of attention and simply look spectacular. Asphalt is undoubtedly one of the best-looking games in the 8000's launch lineup.
The game's sound is also a highlight. While many mobile games don't feature music of any sort, this one lets you pick from five snappy electronica tracks. Unfortunately, you won't hear any engine noise or tire screeches--just ambient synth beats. Almost more noteworthy, however, is the game's volume control. This simple feature is absent from so many mobile games, which force you to listen at an unbearable level, or not at all.
Asphalt is a polished arcade racer that is audiovisually more appealing than just about anything on the platform. While the game doesn't attempt anything unusual, it executes well on its simple formula: drive fast.