Asphalt 8: Airborne Is Ridiculously Fun, Once You Figure Out How To Make It Go [Review]


Asphalt 8: Airborne

Do you remember the Burnout series?

Asphalt 8: Airborne by Gameloft
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad
Price: $0.99

Developer Criterion’s crash-centric racing franchise for consoles was basically the exact opposite of more staid simulation racers like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. It was about speed and stunts. It featured absurd crashes that played out in almost fetishistic slow motion with metal and glass separating from cars and sailing through the air like doves in a John Woo movie. The physics were loose, the action was intense, and the event types included several things that were almost, but not quite, entirely unlike racing.

Why do I bring this up? Because Asphalt 8: Airborne is Burnout for your mobile device.

This is my first experience with developer Gameloft’s 9-year-old Asphalt series, so I’m not prepared to discuss what has and hasn’t changed from its predecessors. Taken on its own merits, however, I was really impressed with Airborne. Once I started playing it, I mean.

Asphalt 8: Airborne
That’s all good, but how do you make it go?

Airborne’s main menu is crowded and not arranged according to any logic I can identify. If I want to pick up where I left off, for example, I’ll hit that little box tucked into the right side of the screen that says, “Career.” Do you see it? The smallest thing on the menu other than the options up at the top? Do you notice that the thing you use to make an in-app purchase to unlock of Season 2 is over three times the size of the thing you use to, you know, play the game?

Yeah, that’s kind of a problem.

Once you find the tiny button you need to access the game, though, it’s incredibly fun.

Asphalt 8: Airborne is Burnout for your mobile device.

Airborne has four control schemes that contain different combinations of motion and touch controls. Three of them will handle acceleration for you automatically, two of them have you tilting your device to steer, and one of them puts up a little wheel that you drag to move. I liked the virtual steering wheel the least, although it worked just fine. It just felt a little sticky somehow.

As far as events go, Airborne contains basic races and a few more creative options. Burnout fans will recognize contests like Elimination — a race in which the driver in last place is removed after a countdown expires — and Knockdown, which is Airborne’s version of Burnout’s Road Rage: a contest to see which driver can take out the most cars.

The tracks are interesting and contain shortcuts, alternate routes, and sweet ramps that can either send you flying over your opponents or send you flying over your opponents while performing an unnecessary (but completely awesome) barrel roll. Stunts help fill up your nitro meter, which you can use for bursts of speed at strategic moments.

It’s impossible not to recommend Asphalt 8 to fans of arcade racers. It’s a solid, good-looking, and exciting game with enough variety to keep you playing for a long time.

Asphalt 8: Airborne
Game Name: Asphalt 8: Airborne
The Good: It features exciting, often insane arcade racing with licensed cars and has enough game modes to keep it interesting. Also, barrel rolls.
The Bad: In-app purchases featured more prominently than the game you’ve already bought.
The Verdict: Asphalt 8: Airborne is a must-play for gamers who like their cars fast and their physics loose.
Buy from: App Store