Gameloft proves yet again why their racing app is worth taking out for a loop

The second I realized that my iPhone was growing a little too warm for comfort, I found myself wondering if GameLoft had played a little joke on us in calling their new game Asphalt 7: Heat. The feeling passed quickly, however, because I was too involved in navigating the streets of London with the DeLorean from Back to the Future (while picking up XP bonuses and cash) to notice. So while it may eat up your mobile’s battery’s life, Asphalt 7 might just be the best mobile racing experience currently available.

Even so, it’s an Asphalt game, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect if you’ve played the previous six. These games come out so often that it’s tempting to treat them with the same disdain heaped on the Friday the 13th movies from the ’80s, but the difference is that Asphalt titles usually get better with each new release. And there’s no difference here. True, we’ve already seen many of its 15 tracks in other games, but the entire package has reached such a pinnacle of visual and technical perfection with Asphalt 7 that it’s hard to justify shunning it for its predecessors–especially when it only costs 0.99 cents.

This outing benefits from the best features of the Asphalt series (and similar racing games), which means there are plenty of activities to choose from. Looking for a quick spin? Jump in the QuickPlay mode and either choose a track or let the game choose it for you. Want to keep track of how many miles you’ve traveled and how much you’ve earned? A Need for Speed-styled Asphalt Tracker has what you want, although its constant requests to post achievements on Facebook do grow a little annoying. Want to make it to the top? A career mode lets you race for over a dozen trophies across widely varying tracks. Short of the kinds of explosive action in less realistic titles like Split/Second and Blur, Asphalt 7 delivers everything I’ve ever wanted in a mobile racing game.

 Heat

That includes the basics of gameplay itself. Gameloft allow multiple control choices (including a virtual steering wheel and the usual manual input buttons), but you’ll get the most fun out of the game if you use the gyroscope. It’s pleasantly responsive in this case, and subtle enough that you don’t have to lose sight of the screen to accelerate (or find some special trick to drift properly!). While it’s not without a learning curve, Gameloft handles it well enough so that newcomers could be winning as early as their second QuickPlay event. After that, you’ll have the most fun in the multiplayer races with 6 people, and I’m pleased to report that I haven’t had a hard time finding a group yet.

I suppose what I like most about Asphalt 7 is the fact that it doesn’t go out of its way to grab your money beyond the 0.99 cent pricetag. You do have to plunk out some cash for some of the best of its more-than-60 cars, of course, but Asphalt 7 drops premium cash like a runaway armored truck and even lets you rent hot tickets like Lamborghinis without shelling out real dough. For such a visually stunning game, it also runs just fine on a regular iPhone 4, despite having a rich sampling of visuals that shift with every key moment. And if you’re willing to overlook those heat and battery issues I mentioned at the beginning? Then there’s really no reason not to make Asphalt 7 your go-to racing app today.