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When a studio is entering the seventh iteration of a game franchise, it's expectedly difficult to keep things feeling fresh. And the issue of creative stagnation is even more prevalent when looking at genres with traditionally strict boundaries, like the arcade racer. So, if you were hoping Gameloft would reinvent the wheel -- pardon the pun -- with Asphalt 7: Heat, curb your expectations.
Asphalt 7 is, for all intents and purposes, much like Asphalt 6. A fast, arcade-style racer pitting you against other drivers through a series of alternating game modes, the single-player campaign contains over a hundred races through 15 gorgeously rendered tracks. And 60 vehicles of varying excitement -- the DeLorean DMC-12 was a particularly cool surprise -- are available for tweaking via in-game currency.
Grabbing the win, place, or show spot in each race earns you stars, unlocking better vehicles and upgrades. But you'll have to plunk down some in-game cash, earned at the conclusion of each round, to acquire those unlocks. Unfortunately, that same end-race screen (and seemingly every event in Asphalt 7) will inundate you with appeals to post the news on your Facebook page. Without any way to turn the irritating feature off, you'll either learn to hit the “no thanks” button, or risk everyone on your friends list thinking you're a jerk.
If there's one way that Asphalt 7 improves the series, it's the visual presentation. The vehicles and environments look fantastic on the Retina display, plus local and online multiplayer works flawlessly, and the controls are super responsive whether you're using the accelerometer or on-screen inputs.
The bottom line. Asphalt 7: Heat may not add anything new to the racing genre, but its slick visuals and capable multiplayer are worth the low price -- if you can overlook the social network brow-beating.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later
Vehicles look great on Retina display. Enjoyable multiplayer. Low price in comparison to similar iOS racers.
Minimal changes from Asphalt 6. Incredibly annoying social integration.