Gameloft has been releasing Asphalt games for mobile platforms every year since 2004. Now in its eighth incarnation, on a brand new platform, does it have enough gusto be more than just another Burnout wannabe? Let’s burn some rubber and find out.

Gameloft has earned a reputation for (how do I say this mildly,) knocking off popular games by other developers and cranking out their own mobile versions. (... saying what a lot of you were thinking). The Asphalt series is a prime example. Take a little Burnout, mix in some RUSH, sprinkle a bit of Need for Speed, give it some coin for a cheap motel and voila; Asphalt!

Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you can pull off a fun and entertaining game with some unique elements that set it apart from the competition. There is some good news in this area. There are 52 Licenced cars, multi-player, 20 career classes and plenty of tracks to keep you busy if you are an unlock nut, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the mods you can purchase with cash earned and found during races.

Hitting the track
There are three main gameplay modes available. 'Career' is where you will spend most of your time racing and unlocking tracks, cars and upgrades. In 'Free Play' mode you can play any track or car you have already unlocked to help sharpen your skills, and 'Multiplayer' where you can challenge anyone from a friend standing two feet away, to a total stranger half way across the world.

Although it was great to see online multiplayer included on a launch title, I’m sad to say it’s difficult to get a game going. The menu system is not intuitive, so you tend to have to wait for people to realize they need to click X to accept or the host to give them the boot before a game can start. When it works well, it shines, but most times I found it glitchy. There several instances where I wrecked crashing into another player that was not there or had someone leap ahead of me out of nowhere (or vice versa.)

In the Career and Free Play mode there are 8 different types of races;

  • Normal – Finish in the top three
  • Elimination – At time intervals, the last place player is eliminated until a winner is crowned.
  • Collector – Probably the toughest of the bunch. Collect the most items. Here’s a tip, you have to collect the most, but they don’t tell you that only the purple $ signs count.
  • Drift – Drift as much as you can to match or exceed the qualifying drift distance before time runs out.
  • Dual – Only two racers, if you come in second, you came in last.
  • Beat ‘em All – Achieve the knockdown goal within the time limit to win.
  • Under Pressure – Your vehicle can only be wrecked a couple times, and you want to wreck the rest. Careful driving is the key to this one.
  • Cop Chase – Finish the allotted laps in the proper time without being busted more than the allowed number of times. The more cops you take out, and less tickets you get, the more stars you earn.

As with most of these types of games, rankings are done at the end of each race based on a star rating. The best you can do is five and it breaks down as follows. You get three for 1st, two for 2nd and one for third place, plus you have two challenges per race that can earn you an additional two stars. These are normally along the lines of drifting a certain amount, knocking out a given number of the competition or finishing with the least amount of wrecks.

There are 20 leagues available in career mode with 5 races per league for a total of 100 races. This makes it possible to earn 500 starts, over a dozen tracks, 52 cars and a ton of upgrades. This makes for a lot of content and things to explore.

Two things I did notice is that no matter what car, track, modifications or game mode you choose, the AI controlled cars always get a huge head start even if you nitro right off the launch. In most cases it takes a lap to catch up, but once you do, if you play your cards right, it’s pretty easy to finish in the top three. Also, shortcuts do not really give you an advantage other than sometimes harnessing some $ or boosts for you to grab, plus they are very obvious and even show up on the mini-map.

Behind the wheel
There are a lot of control options available to suite various personal styles. The easiest and probably most used is automatic which uses the control pad or stick for steering. For all you shifters out there you can also enable manual transmission. There is also a control scheme which uses the tilt controls of the Vita to steer very similar to the asphalt games on IOS devices. One of the more unique methods allows you to use the back touch pad to shift up and down just like in an Indy car. This is unique and although it takes a little getting used to works quite well. It will be interesting to see other racing games use this shifting method.

Control is quite typical of arcade racers although there is a very floaty feeling to the handling of all vehicles. Again, some people actually like this arcade feel and it does suit this game. I did realize quite early on that there are 52 vehicles, however other than speed, all cars seem to handle the same. It would be nice to see some difference in control, drifting, breaking and acceleration.

A rusty paint job
The graphics are defiantly the best in the series, but unfortunately that doesn’t say much. In fact I found them to be a bit of a letdown since they are only slightly better than what could have been pulled off on the PSP. Still they look smooth and colourful, I noticed some clipping as well a couple times after a race, my car seemed to finish half inside one of my opponents not to mention artifacts found in reflections and lighting. The Vita is VERY powerful and can pull of some amazing graphics, so there is no excuse for releasing the game in this state.. Again, the visuals are far from horrible, it’s just they are not at the level of other Vita launch titles.

The music in Injection is very reminiscent of LMFAO and suites the game very well, the only problem is there are not many tracks so you hear the same ones repeatedly. Other than music, the sound effects are typical of other games in the genre, skids, crashes and engines are all represented well. Similar to 'Need for Speed' there is a saucy female announcer giving you the low down of the tracks prior to each race and making smart ass comments to “shake and bake” the action. It’s a good addition when you first start playing, but after a few hours and hearing the same comments over and over again it gets a little stale.

Asphalt Injection is hands down the best game in the series with plenty of unlockables available to those willing to work for their dinner. If you are fan of arcade type racers, you will enjoy this one. I have been playing for days now and will continue to do so until I unlock the big bad Bugatti. Sure the graphics are not up to par with other Vita release titles, and its simplistic gameplay may not entice hard core race fans, but it is simple, mindless arcade racing fun.

The problem is that there is nothing new in this version other than the cars. All tracks and modes are available in previous versions of the series. Although I hate to bring up price while reviewing a game, its hard to ignore that you can purchase Asphalt 6 for all iOS devices for a mere 99cents while Injection will run you a cold $29.99. I believe strongly that if Gameloft decided to release this as a download only title and charge $10 , it would sell much better and not attract bad mojo leaving a bad taste in your mouth when you realize its merely a recycled game.

  • There is no denying that this game is fun. If you are a fan of Burnout or the RUSH series, then you will enjoy Injection.
  • Plenty of control schemes. You can even use the back touch panel to shift gears just like an indy car.
  • Lots of goodies to unlock including 52 Licensed cars and plenty of enhancements.
  • A large selection of tracks
  • Online multiplayer does bring a challenge
  • Move along citizen. Nothing new here. Especially when it comes to tracks or game modes. If you’ve played Asphalt 6 Adrenaline, then you have seen almost everything this game has to offer.
  • Graphics are not up to par with the competition. In fact they are only slightly better than what would expect to see on a PSP.
  • Other than speed and look, cars drive the same whether you are driving an Austin Mini or a Ferrari
  • Price gouge. The only injection I see here is the injection of hard earned money into Gameloft’s pocket. $30 for a game that’s practically the same as a game as its iOS counterpart that’s only 99cents? Not cool.
Quote: "Although I hate to bring up price while reviewing a game, its hard to ignore that you can purchase Asphalt 6 for all iOS devices for a mere 99cents while Injection will run you a cold $29.99. "
Reviewed by Jim Holiko | 03.07.12

Similar Games: ModNation Racers PSP (7.8)


Asphalt Injection




US Release
February '12


PS Vita

Players 1
Online MP