Thursday, May 17, 2012

Feature App Review: Need For Speed Shift 2: Unleashed vs Asphalt 6: Adrenaline for iPad

Need For Speed has been one of the most successful and critically acclaimed racing game series on PC, Mac and consoles for years. Electronic Arts has now moved on with its games onto mobile platforms as well. Meanwhile, Gameloft has made their Asphalt series for mobile devices since the days of Nokia’s reign with Symbian. Currently, the two are competing neck to neck, and also with other developers who make racing games.

Today, in this post, I compare two great racing games from these developers available for the iPad - Need For Speed Shift 2: Unleashed (by EA) and Asphalt 6: Adrenaline (by Gameloft).

Both these games are two different worlds. They have completely different game mechanics, art style, music, learning curves, and single-player career format. They are clearly targeted towards two different audiences. While they are both mind-blowingly amazing games, many people will find that one of these resonates better with them.

I will first put out my thoughts towards each of these as reviews and then compare them at the end.

NFS Shift 2: Unleashed
Available for $1.99 on the App Store as of the time of writing

This is the more ‘serious’ racing game of the two. This is more like the “Gran Turismo” series on the PlayStation.

The art in the game is pretty dark and more realistic. The cars may look less detailed and more like cardboard cutouts and one of those real-life sized paper model kit cars. However, since this game is geared towards realism of experience, I recommend experiencing it from the driver’s perspective. The default view is from the interior of the car with the helmet on (this can be changed in the settings). The result is a narrow window through which you see everything, like a real racecar driver.

There is some car damage as well. Although the car does not stop running or get damaged from the outside, you see cracks in the windshield when playing from the inside. The glass is never seen shattering; the cracks just increase in number until you see the broken remains of the windshield. EA has not invested their time in bells and whistles. They probably meant the game to be more realistic in terms of the driving mechanics.

They did succeed with this. Driving mechanics are ├╝ber-realistic compared to any other racing game I’ve ever played on a mobile device. The car will only drift when you are making a sharp turn. It will stop drifting when you slow down doing it. When you crash into anything, the screen flashes in reds and blacks and the interface vibrates depending on the intensity of the bump. Even minor upgrades to various parts of cars will affect the way it handles. It is pretty realistic in that respect as well.

There are a few in-app purchases, but they are just there to help people who are horribly stuck in the game. The career mode gives you stars for different objectives you complete for each race. You need a particular number of stars to unlock the next set of levels. However, without buying the stars with real money, the game becomes quite difficult. Personally, I just think it becomes amazingly challenging, but certainly not impossible.

Asphalt 6: Adrenaline
Available for $0.99 on the App Store as of the time of writing

Asphalt 6 is not meant to be as realistic as Shift 2. It’s designed to be a much more joyful and fun game with an overall “party” theme. Kids can play it and have fun. The value of virtual money in the game is very, very unrealistic. You can easily earn loads of it and buy every car you want. It sort of takes the fun of rationing money and saving up for new cars away.

The cars look a lot cooler and the tracks are much more colorful. The music in the game has more pop. It stands out more compared to the dull, simply environment-setting rock tunes in Shift 2. The game is meant to be played from the outside of the car. The car handling mechanics in the game are not very realistic either. All the cars feel pretty much the same. You can drift on a straight road without losing much speed. You earn nitro from drifting.

But don’t let me discourage you from buying the game. The non-realism is not all that bad. The game is one of the most beautiful games I have ever seen. It has a humongous “wow” factor when you first play it. When people see you playing it, they’ll start up a conversation. You can kick cars off the road. Cars are amazingly customizable and allow you to get behind some of the most spectacular rides one can imagine. There are so many events with a huge range of race modes. When your nitro meter hits full capacity and you boost your car, it is a sight to behold.

Racing in this game is best-described as "fun, and sometimes over-the-top". After you get to the last few events, the cars can go insanely fast and races become tests for reaction times instead of the best driving skills.

Adrenaline is clearly the more impactful and stunning game of the two in terms of graphics and the kick you get out of playing it.

The Verdict
Here’s a summary of what the two games are all about:
  • Shift 2: Unleashed – Realistic and challenging gameplay; dull, dark environment with rather unrealistic cars.
  • Adrenaline – Unrealistic driving and too easy to beat; much more fun looking and a “wow” factor that may not be paralleled.
While Shift 2 puts you into a driving professional’s helmet and makes you do legally organized races on the streets of famous cities, Asphalt is a street-racing game with a fun female narrator. While Shift 2 has super-realistic driving and an extremely challenging career mode, Adrenaline is a game that you can use to demo your friends when you want to convince them to get an iPad. Both games are optimized for the Retina Display on the new iPad (although I reviewed both on the iPad 2).

Shift 2 is a ‘hardcore’ racing game that is targeted towards grown-ups and serious gamers. Get Adrenaline if you are a casual gamer that wants to spend a few weeks playing a beautiful racing game that’s kinda dumbed down.