Asphalt 3.v1.2.7 N-GAGE SymbianOS9.1
Asphalt 3 is the follow-up to the Asphalt series of games from the first generation N-Gage and the Nintendo DS. This is a third party title from G@meloft, who specialise in phone games and have supported N-Gage since its first generation. (The Asphalt brand is also used on Java titles from G@meloft, but these aren't really the same games, they just have similar names and themes.)
The strategy you need to win varies wildly from one mode to the other, for example "Beat 'Em All" doesn't require you to be anywhere near the front of the race while "Vs" requires you to come first.
Graphics & Sound
Before we discuss the graphics in Asphalt 3, it should be remembered that this isn't a 50 euro console game, it's a 10 euro phone game. As a phone game, the graphics are very very good. They're not perfect, and they'd be better if they used the graphics accelerator chip on certain N-Gage models, but in general the game looks extremely pretty and detailed. As well as you and the other racers, the streets are populated with other traffic, police cars, trams and even press helicopters, which really adds to the atmosphere. Perhaps the biggest graphical glitch is the strangely wobbly camera at the beginning, but once the race begins the camera is fine.
The look of each tracks is very different thanks to the globe-trotting nature of the game. The 3D is a lot more detailed than on previous Asphalt games, and the game world on each track feels a lot more real. However, it would have been nice to see more variety on each track through the use of different times of day and different weather conditions (the snow on the St. Petersburg track is a tantalising glimpse of how much this could have added to the game).
The one problem audiowise was the volume control, which didn't seem to vary the volume properly.
Shamefully, the only Arena feature of Asphalt 3 is a rankings board. No shadow racing, no online multiplayer, just high score posting.
Even worse, we could not get the rankings to work at all, either in the game or in the N-Gage app. The screen just stayed blank.
As things stand, Asphalt 3 gets a big fat zero for its online features, which is a real shame because it has a lot of potential as an online multiplayer game. Hopefully Asphalt 4 will let us race against each other on the Arena in real time.
If you're looking for a realistic racing simulator, Asphalt 3 is not for you. If you're looking for a fun, easy-to-get-started arcade racer then this may well be your cup of tea. Despite its attempts at realistic graphics Asphalt 3 is actually a very cartoony title, like a sort of Mario Kart designed for petrolheads, which is a good thing.
A big shock for some people may be how little Asphalt 3 values winning a race or scoring a low lap time. If you get to the front of a race, stay there and finish first, your score will be very low. If you stay in the middle of the pack, cause as much mayhem as possible and then finish third, your score will be very high.
Seven tracks may seem like a small number, but the five distinct game modes make you approach the tracks in totally different ways. Catching a criminal in "Cop Chase" is a completely different game to smashing the city up in "Cash Attack", and this kind of contrast adds greatly to the game's replay value.
Perhaps Asphalt's biggest drawback is the lack of clarity over what actually gets you credit in the end-of-race score. The score rundown after a race has a mysterious "others" section which frequently contains more money than any of the other bonus categories, and even the listed bonuses aren't explained properly anywhere (what's the difference between "Takedown" and "Road Rage" for example?). In one "Beat 'Em All" race this reviewer managed to take down four cars at once at the start of the game, then another, then two at once at the end so that the total score was a bizarre 7 takedowns out of 6, all in the first lap. This would seem to be an amazing fluke, but the end-of-race score was very low because it all happened so quickly. Ironically for an arcade racer, Asphalt 3 seems to punish people for speed.
However, in general Asphalt 3 is a fun and playable game with accessible gameplay, a good selection of game modes, nice sound and nice (though sometimes a bit too jerky) graphics. The lack of online gameplay is a big disappointment though, even shadowracing would have been fun.