Asphalt

3DS

Considering that the 3DS is such a remarkable bit of kit, its launch titles have been somewhat lacklustre. The handheld has bags of potential, and there are some great games on the horizon, but that doesnít really help if youíve forked out all the cash for one at launch. Yes being an early adopter can be a bitch.

One title that you wouldnít necessarily consider might well be Ubisoftís driving game Asphalt 3D. The franchise has been up and running since 2005ís Asphalt Urban GT on the DS, but hasnít really made that big of an impression on gamers. If this title is anything to go by however, the franchise may well be severely underrated.

Despite some rather poor intro scenes and screens, this little racer has got a nifty engine under its bonnet. It has to be said that as far as the 3D effect is concerned, this game is one of the most impressive. A lot of detail has gone into the whole visual driving experience that goes far beyond just the cars around you, but all the manner of details around the track and your surroundings. The only downside is that you can easily get distracted by the little touches that the locations have to offer.

In terms of the actual driving element, the game is far from innovative. But what it does do, it does extremely well.

boom reviews - Asphalt 3D image
I feel the need, the need to get this moron out of the way - bloody Sunday drivers!

First off, there are 17 circuits to get to grips with. Those are 17 proper circuits mind, not just half mirrored tracks. Each one is distinct in character, taking on board its location. This means that thereís less chance of you getting fed up of racing round the same looking tracks. On top of that, each one features short cuts; not that theyíre difficult to find, particularly as they show up on your map, but it does vary the route somewhat.

Then you have the cars: 42 licensed vehicles to be exact. All of which can be modified with extras in the garage. It may not have the depth of tinkering that, say, the recent Shift 2 Unleashed does, but considering itís a handheld title, it doesnít embarrass itself in this department in any way.

What it also has is not only the ability to use nitro boost but to also drift. Again, nice to see both used in a portable game.

Thereís more to do here than just race too, as there is plenty of variety in career mode, including Time trial, Vigilante, Drift, Duel etc. The amount available could easily put a lot of console driving games to shame.

Even in racing itís not just a simple process of finishing first. One of the biggest obstacles is incoming traffic; itís not heavy enough to cause you much concern, but the very fact itís there makes you have to think that little bit more when overtaking, particularly when using nitro.

The game also borrows, rather brilliantly, from the likes of Burnout; if youíre struggling to get past an opponent, then just move him out the way and knock him off the track. And if that wasnít enough, it also throws the police into the mix, where they not only chase you, but can throw up road blocks to stop you in your tracks. Yes itís been used in other games, but to find it here, along with all the other elements, is quite impressive, for a handheld system or otherwise.

The biggest thing you need to be aware of is that this is not a sim driving experience. This is sheer arcade fun at its finest. The vehicles feel a little bumper car-ish at times, especially when they appear to bounce off the side of the road a tad, but it all adds to the gameís sizeable charm.

All in all itís more than a little fast and furious fun on the go. If you like driving games, and you initially overlooked this one, itís most definitely worth taking out for a spin.

four out of five