App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Gameloft is famous for taking existing games and mechanics and applying them to their own mobile games. Asphalt Xtreme continues this trend by offering up off-road racing in the style of Motorstorm for mobile. Despite some bothersome (but pretty standard) free-to-play design and occasional performance issues, Asphalt Xtreme manages to be a great package for anyone looking for some quick-and-dirty racing action.
Where we're going we don't need roads
Despite its name mentioning asphalt, there's precious little pavement in Asphalt Xtreme. Instead, players go off-road, racing vehicles like dune buggies, rally cars, and monster trucks over sand, ice, mud, and more.
To make things feel really off the beaten path, the courses in Asphalt Xtreme take you all over the world to exotic locations like Thailand, Egypt, and Mongolia where you race across beaches, near ancient tombs, and through aircraft boneyards respectively.
Aside from being off-road focused, Asphalt Xtreme may not look too different from Gameloft's other racing game Asphalt 8: Airborne, and the truth is: it's not. The control of cars and sense of speed in Xtreme feels more or less the same as the game before it, but this latest entry offers up a lot more variety in some unexpected ways.
The primary way Xtreme does this is through having multiple vehicle types that all feel different. In Xtreme, driving a dump truck does not (and should not) feel the same as driving a nimble little dune buggy, and Gameloft actually does a good job of making all of its vehicles feel like they require specific strategies and play styles to win with.
The differences in these vehicles wouldn't amount to much though if Xtreme didn't have really clever, nonlinear course design. Any given track in Xtreme has multiple routes through it, with each path containing elements that play to different vehicles' strengths. This makes racing each track feel new every time you race it with a new vehicle.
Smooth, free ride?
As with many Gameloft games, Xtreme has a free-to-play model that might rub players the wrong way. Each vehicle players unlock requires oil changes after a certain number of races, and currency comes in at a slow enough rate to make shelling out some cash seem tempting. That said, if you are a savvy free player, it's pretty easy to avoid hitting a play wall, even when you're deep into the experience.
What's arguably a worse issue with Xtreme is its performance. At particularly action-packed moments in the game, it's not unusual for the framerate to drop. Also, there are occasional times when moving between multiple routes or hitting ramps at odd angles causes vehicles to behave in really bizarre ways, usually ending with some form of significant speed loss or a wreck. Thankfully, this happens rarely enough that it's not a common problem, and hopefully it will be fixed in an update soon.
The bottom line
Asphalt Xtreme has its issues, but it's still a great racing game. It's got clever vehicle and course design, plus it has a very healthy multiplayer scene at the moment. It may not be the best racing game on mobile, but it's a dang fine (and free!) one.