App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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The App Store has seen plenty of racing and otherwise vehicle-centric releases, which run the gamut from typical "come in first" contests to stunts and weapons-based combat. There are plenty of quality titles in each one of these sub-genres, but there's another branch of racing that seems to have been forgotten. At least on the US App Store, anyway. I'm talking about drifting. Fast and the Furious-style, hideous body kit-having, glowing neon undercarriage-sporting drifting.
RPM: Gymkhana Racing is, to my knowledge, one of only a handful (perhaps less) of drifting-focused racers on iOS. For those unfamiliar with the concept it's fairly straightforward: use a car's momentum and weight to slide around turns without slowing down like a
wuss self-preservationist. If done correctly, drivers can tear through a winding track with very little loss in speed. If not, then things get messy.
The visuals in RPM: Gymkhana Racing are nice enough, although the models are a bit simple and the overall design is somewhat vanilla. The flip-side to this is that it keeps things running smoothly. The soundtrack is also pretty cool, with plenty of adrenaline-pumping techno tunes by Kevin "Loudcore" Greenlee. On the gameplay side of things, there are 25 courses to play around in, each with their own set of star-earning objectives, split between five distinct locales (New York, Tokyo, etc...). These tasks, which range from typical (complete 3 laps, finish in under "X" time) to a bit offbeat (knock over port-a-pottys, skid through paint spills to color walls) do well to keep things from turning into a dull trudge from start to finish.
Fans of more typical racing games might be put off by the lack of any actual racing, however. What I mean is, there are no other cars on the track. It makes sense given the amount of vehicular antics required, but "normal" racing fans should still be aware of this. Also, while it's nice to have so much variety with the track challenges, many of them are just copies of each other. For example, popping balloons and collecting documents are the same exact thing: run into a highlighted item. The models may be different, but the task itself is the same either way. Finally, there's the drifting. I completely understand that it's supposed to feel loose and the cars are supposed to slide around, but it all seems to be a little too loose. It can be compensated for with enough practice, but it's bound to put off veteran racers who aren't familiar with this particular brand of driving.
RPM: Gymkhana Racing is a good racer, but it's also drastically different from the norm. Fans of drifting should have no trouble jumping right in and enjoying themselves, but those more used to more typical kinds of racing should be prepared for a much different driving experience.