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Developer: Palzoun & SpinVector
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Science fiction and racing have always gone together like peanut butter and chocolate.  How can you take a generic racing experience and make it feel cutting edge?  Set the game in a high tech future universe and suddenly everything seems new and exciting.  AXL: Full Boost takes this idea to heart, while still trying push the envelope of what the rapidly aging iPhone 4 technology is capable of rendering.  Is this enough to make the futuristic racer a mainstay in your iOS racing collection, or is this another also-ran with a glossy finish?

Before things get to far along, it is best to acknowledge the pink elephant in the room.  AXL: Full Boost looks VERY similar to the Sony racing franchise, Wipeout.  It might have something to do with the futuristic setting and similarly shaped hovercraft vehicles, but it is hard to shake the impression that the art style was more than just a little inspired by the Sony gem.  Making matters even worse, the pulsing techno and dubstep beats in the background throughout races feel like they have been borrowed as well.  If imitation is the highest form of flattery, this is a gushing love note.

One thing that sets the game apart from the usual Sci-Fi fare is the lack of any genuine combat.  The action is focused around pure and skilled racing, which is a welcome change from the usual formula.  Also complementing the skill emphasis is a beefy seventy one race campaign.  Granted, it is only broken up across sixteen tracks, but that is far more than what would be expected under most circumstances.  Each track is beautifully rendered on screen, making it one of the slickest looking racers on the platform.

For everything that AXL does right, there are a couple of areas that could lead to issues in tilt control and on-screen feedback.  While this is far from the first game to suffer from such struggles, it seems to be especially prevalent on tight courses that contain hair pin turns.  Brakes feel like they do not slow down the player fast enough to effectively navigate, further emphasizing the jerky gyroscopic controls.  Once players have grown accustomed to vehicles, these issues will subside, but they must first put in the time necessary to familiarize themselves with the mechanics.

Featuring everything from immersive environments to an expansive campaign, AXL: Full Boost is a game that is well worth checking out.  As long as players have the time to invest, this is a safe $2.99 purchase that won’t be regretted.

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