Asphalt 7: Heat for Windows Phone 8
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Asphalt 7 Review: Bringing the heat to Windows Phone 8

As the first non-Angry Birds Xbox game running exclusively on Windows Phone 8, Asphalt 7: Heat understandably had a lot of interest from gamers and some rather lofty expectations to live up to. Now that the downloading issues that plagued last week’s launch have been resolved, we’ve been able to step into the driver’s seat and take it for a spin. Is Asphalt 7 the best arcade-style racing game since Outrun or another trip down a one-way road in the wrong direction like its Windows Phone 7 predecessor, Asphalt 5?

I’m pleased to tell you that Asphalt 7 is not only the best racing game in the Windows Phone library, it’s one of the best games period. Head past the break to find out just how it impressed its way into my icy heart.

Don’t sweat the simulation

Asphalt 7 volcano

Asphalt 7 is easily the most realistic looking 3D game on Windows Phone 8, not that there has been any competition so far. The generous assortment of 15 tracks take place in various exotic locations, boasting a fair amount of detail and gorgeous colors. If not for the slightly low resolution textures, you could mistake it for an early Xbox 360 game.

Realistic looks or not, this game focuses on fast-paced arcade racing over simulation. You won’t be manually shifting gears here. Drifting – a maneuver that can be extremely challenging in some racers is surprisingly easy to pull off. Just tap the brake button while steering left or right and you’ve initiated the drift. It won’t stop until the driver steers hard in the opposite direction, brakes again, or commits the generally inadvisable act of wrecking.

Of course, controls play a big part in any racer’s accessibility. By default, the controls rely entirely on the accelerometer for steering, while pressing anywhere on the left side of the screen brakes and the right side activates Nitro. The standard sensitivity makes driving in a straight line kind of tough, perhaps simulating the experience of driving while fueld by mojitos. Adjusting the sensitivity sobers things up, but don’t expect to pull off massive drifts with wibbly-wobbly controls. Instead, try one of the two all-touch screen control methods. These provide much more accuracy and make the game easier.

Asphalt 7 is a fast-paced game, and the Adrenaline system only makes it faster. By collecting Nitro pick-ups, drifting, and performing various stunts during the race, you’ll fill the Adrenaline meter. You can press the Nitro button at any time for a quick burst of speed. Fill the meter until it flashes and you can activate Adrenaline, the super-charged version of Nitro. The screen turns blue and your car rockets ahead until the meter runs empty. That blueness reduces visibility – a slight trade-off, but it’s more than made up for by the ability to knock oncoming cars and CPU opponents off the road just by touching them.

Pimp my ride

Asphalt 7 DeLorean

Cars are divided up into seven tiers, with each tier containing several vehicles. They’re all licensed and include such luxury machines as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Corvettes, and even a DeLorean. Each one can be viewed and rotated from the selection screen, where they look fantastic.

Vehicles can be upgraded to improve their acceleration, Nitro speed, handling, and other factors. On top of that, the game allows a fair degree of visual customization. You’ll have to opportunity to change a ride’s paint job and window colors as well as select from an assortment of decals, all at no cost.

Rep, money and stars

Asphalt 7 IAP

Unlocking those cars and upgrades requires a combination of in-game currency and stars. Winning new events in Career, completing single events in Quick Play, or placing in the top three in multiplayer games are all great ways to earn money. Multiplayer Elimination races provide the fastest payout, especially since an opponent disconnecting results in a win for the remaining player.

Stars prove harder to come by, but there are still several avenues to get them. Most Career events offer up to three stars for finishing in first place. Earn enough rep from participating in races and you’ll level up, thus gaining one star. Leveling up unlocks new decals for customization. Levels also function as a general way to tell how far the players you meet in Multiplayer have made it through the game.

The other, most interesting way of snagging stars comes completing optional goals. Players always have three goals to work toward. Every time you finish one, you get both a star and a new goal. A few examples: drifting X distance, completing Y events, renting Z car, and winning a multiplayer race. There are tons of unique goals, so they can really add variety to the game beyond just trying to win races. If a goal seems problematic, the gamer can always opt to pay in-game money to complete it and get a new one.

On top of earning money and stars through gameplay, either currency can be purchased with real money via credit card or PayPal. You never need to do so, but it can certainly help to get ahead in the game faster. If I had to choose one or the other, I would definitely buy stars. Money is easier to come by, and you need stars to unlock those all-important car upgrades.

Career

Asphalt 7 Career

The single-player Career consists of 13 cups, each with 4-13 events.  You need to place at least third (thus earning one star) in order to pass an event and unlock the next one. The final race in a cup is the Championship in which finishing in first unlocks a new vehicle.

Asphalt 5 suffered from a handful of poorly conceived event types that could be tough to even figure out, let alone win. Mercifully, all of the event types in this sequel are logical and doable. The only one I don’t care for is Paint Job, a race that subtracts time with each collision. But on the whole, the difficulty is quite fair. I did hit a wall at Cup 7 when playing exclusively Career – without some extra money and stars, my car couldn’t keep up with the competition. But hopping into Quick Play or Multiplayer whenever I ran short of money got me back on track.

Online features

Asphalt 7 online features

Asphalt 7 is the first Xbox Windows Phone game with true real-time online multiplayer. Oddly, it requires players to create and sign into a Gameloft Live account rather than Xbox Live. I described the process in detail in a previous article. Just let me reiterate that the separate login was necessitated because Microsoft does not provide Xbox Live developers with real-time multiplayer tools. For whatever reason, the big MS exclusively prefers asynchronous multiplayer on Windows Phone and Windows 8. Gameloft did the best they could under those circumstances. Users’ accounts will carry over to future multiplayer Gameloft titles like N.O.V.A. 3 and Order & Chaos Online, so it’s worth the minor initial hassle.

At the moment, I’m often able to get an online game going within just a few minutes of creating a lobby. The game’s price and overall awesomeness pretty much ensure a decent number of potential players – hopefully the community sticks around in the long term. I did run into the occasional hiccup, but in my handful of hours played online, those were quite infrequent. I only wish we could communicate in-game.

On top of multiplayer (which also supports local Wi-Fi), Asphalt 7 has a few more online features. There’s a weekly challenge called Asphalt Academy in which players compete on a specific event and then get ranked globally. The game also has a built-in method of sending Xbox Live messages for some reason.

Achievements

Asphalt 7 Bumper to bumper

Gameloft’s latest has several fun Achievements such as activating Adrenaline in a DeLorean. Oddly, that one doesn’t even reference Back to the Future. Some users might have trouble with the drifting Achievement, but it’s easy once you learn how to go about it. There’s also an Achievement for winning three online races, so I suggest you go after that now while lots of people are playing.

The rest of the Achievements aren’t too challenging – just time consuming. Earning three stars in every Career event and racking up $20,000,000 will take a while. Luckily the grinding system is pleasurable on the whole, so gamers shouldn’t lose interest before the 20-plus hours needed to accomplish everything.

Overall Impression

Asphalt 7 will make you forget the glitchy Gameloft games of old. The developer really went all-out on this one, creating a game that feels equal to the robust iOS version in every way. Four months after the launch of Windows Phone 8, we finally have a game that takes advantage of the hardware and couldn’t be accomplished with nearly the same fidelity on the previous OS. If you like racing games even a little bit or just want to support someone making a real, big-budget game for Microsoft’s mobile platform, don’t wait. Buy this game.

Buy it if your device can run it, that is. The game is an 878 MB file but requires about 4.7 GB of free space to install due to platform restrictions (not the developer). It also requires a phone with 1 GB of RAM at the moment, but Gameloft has promised an update that will allow it to run on phones with only 512 MB.

Asphalt 7 costs 99 cents. Get it here at the Windows Phone Store.

QR: Asphalt 7

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Comments

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NaterBater says:

Awesome game. Any updates on today's release Paul?

Paul Acevedo says:

Working on the news now. And it is good news.

busngabb says:

Oooh you tease

NaterBater says:

I hope its a good one or all those gameloft games. Finished AB:Seasons and all the not grinding achievements in Yahtzee. I need my achievements Paul.

Zokudu says:

Good god man give us information.

DenniSundaY says:

This game is amazing! Super realistic and so much fun!

MacDaMachine says:

Far from super realistic. But it is fun

This is what all Xbox WP games are suppose to be like.

Another game without cloud saving. Good game tho.

Tahiti Bob says:

Well done Gameloft, great game. Now give us Nova 3 please :)

mrshamoozoo says:

Yeesss Paul you're awesome. Keep it up! And if anyone wants to play Asphalt 7 online with me, my username is Shamoozoo.

sholokov says:

Do you know that if your username starts with Sho... Like mine, Gameloft doesn't allow you to login. I had to choose a different username. I can login to gameloft with that username but not within a game. Weired.

Azurus says:

ahhahahaha I'm sorry but i have to say this 
asphalt 7 "literally" brings heat to my lumia 920 =D
the plastic device is gonna melt because of it

No kidding! After a couple of races the phone becomes very hot. Like turbocharged exhaust hot. Might be a good idea to take frequent breaks.

NaterBater says:

You only have to play 3 online games for the achievement. Idk if it is a glitch and might be fixed so everyone might want to take advantage now. Also you can get the Facebook achievement just by click share and going back 3 times in a row. No need to actually post.

uopjo6 says:

4GB??? Aaand heats up? I dunno...........

Paul Acevedo says:

Any hardware-intensive game will cause your phone to heat up. It's unavoidable.

Ignotum666 says:

I love this game, the graphics and the gameplay is very good, besides 99 cents? Is must have for Lumia owners ;)
Feel free to add for multiplayer OpusIgnotum

daverath says:

A couple corrections- default controls allow you to tap on the left half of the screen to brake and right to nitro. Also, it's minor but leveling up does unlock one small feature- decals

Paul Acevedo says:

Thanks man - fixed both things.

This sucks I only have an og focus

Paul Acevedo says:

Time to upgrade!

Yeah but at&t don't have a gray 920

WPSteve says:

"You've reached the storage limit on your phone, please free up some space and try again." THANK YOU, OTHER. :(

http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/shrink-storage/44672108-f3f8-47df-bd19-3fe94e6c744a
 
Run that, might have to do so a few times. It clears out the other storage, to an extent.

DavidinCT says:

If you run into the "space" issue, even though you have plenty of space free on my 8X I had 4gb free and it sitll gave that issue. Go on the WP website and try or buy the game, then send it to your phone, it will install fine from that point.
 
BTW that Srink storage app works great, it cleanered my other folder from 4.8gb to 2.57gb, a major difference when you only have 16gb to work with....

JLP says:

I had the same issue...guess I'll have to try the shrink storage thing even though I didn't want to for fear that it would mess something up. Really want to try this game though

thehidedout says:

When I try to go online with my gameloft account it keeps saying "account does not exist"...

Paul Acevedo says:

Have you tried making a new account?

thehidedout says:

I created a new account. The account exists but for some reason when I try to go online multiplayer it says "username does not exist'

It is worth noting that I have not yet been able to get local multiplayer to work. I received the following response from Gameloft:

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

However, it appears that Asphalt 7: Heat and other Gameloft games are not yet fully supported on your device
and this may be the reason you are experiencing issues with the game's local multiplayer.

Please try performing these troubleshooting steps:

- Reboot your device - Turn off and turn on your WiFi - Launch the game -

Please be informed that we cannot give you a refund or a replacement.
You may check our refund policy at http://www.gameloft.com/faq/#3.

Before purchasing a game we advise you to please confirm availability from your carrier.

Thank you for your understanding.

mimonaut says:

Not very smooth on lumia 920.. Nice graphics, but if GPU must solve diffiult task, fps going rapidly down.. And speed Is IMHO one of major part of driving games playability..
I Want Some switches in game Setup to decrease details and/or Resolution for Real smooth experience.. Up to 50fps Like in stuntcar Xbox live Title..

I disagree -- the game play graphics are smooth on my 920. The track intro sometimes skips a bit at the beginning, but that's it.

mimonaut says:

It Is relative. What Is smooth? :-)
When You Missing oponent in high speed, There Is Only two-Three positions of oponent car... And It Is not si much.. You could test Other driving games, which has more frame Rate, stunt car for example.. Reály better feeling..

greg2k says:

Anything below 60fps is not smooth. It doesn't have to be laggy at times, at 20fps any racing game sucks (I don't know the framerate for Asphalt but it sure as hell isn't near 60)

Paul Acevedo says:

It's probably 30 FPS and while some people will only be happy with 60, it's perfectly acceptable for the great majority of us.

ruthietootie says:

Gameloft also need to reduce the storage requirements. 4.7G of free space is a lot. Many phones still may not be able to play the game even when they make the game compatible for 512mb. Unless making it 512mb compatible will automatically reduce the storage requirements

Paul Acevedo says:

The 4x storage requirement comes from Microsoft - it's a platform limitation. Developers can't do anything about it.

Tip for players who want to use the accelerometer controls --> boost the sensitivity setting all the way UP, not down. Paradoxically, this actually makes the car easier to control. I tried the other control methods, but tilt steering is definitely the way to go IF you turn the sensitivity all the way up.

tylerh1701 says:

Wow that required install space seems a little ridiculous, but I'm glad the game is good and prices very fairly.  Let's hope that Xbox has finally righted the ship on WP and we'll see more quality titles in the near future (and not just the promised Gameloft games).

Akash294 says:

will it run with 512mb ram????
 

thehidedout says:

Needs 1gb of ram

Paul Acevedo says:

The review tells all.

R0bR says:

Great game! Surprised to find my first car was my real life car, FIAT Abarth...have it matched with Black and Red stripe.

dcrogers25 says:

Frame rate is fine and smooth on my L920

hey do you think it runs at 60 FPS?

Superb review Paul. Thanks for your work!

NickyNichols says:

Serious question, people... This or Real Racing 3? I would love to see a game that blows something on IOS out of the water.

Paul Acevedo says:

Good question (I don't have an iOS device). But at only $1, it's not like you can't afford this and another game too.

The visuals on RR3 are truly stunning, better than Asphalt 7 for sure. But remember that Asphalt 7 already came out for iOS last year. So Asphalt 7 on WP8 isn't going to beat itself on iOS. IMO, Asphalt 7 is an overall better gaming experience than RR3, no matter which OS you use.

Verkunder says:

Whenever I try to make an account to play online, it always shows a blue screen and bugs out. Like, flashing a white screen every few seconds.

Paul Acevedo says:

That's weird. If you have access to an iOS or Android device, you could create an account using the standalone Gameloft Live app for those platforms.

Mroofie says:

Oh look there goes that snotty comment of who ever hacked,my account suck on dat bitch :)

Hey guys, there are people saying that the iPhone version looks better than the WP8 version. I need to know if it´s true. Can anyone confirm that? Cause I thought this one looked better that the iOS´s.

advarma says:

Well very frankly I like this version better. I guess the clear black display on my n920 clubbed with the 60fps consistency works perfect!

Owen Ye says:

Yes, it's getting my Lumia 920 really heat (at a high temperature).

Murgatroyd7 says:

Sheesh, I could wipe my phone clean and still not have enough space for this game.  Not that it's capable of playing it anyway, but still.

Ali Rahman1 says:

Its a shame that my Nokia Lumia 620 is not in supported devices. Whats the use of a Snapdragon S4 dual core chip when i can't run a graphics intensive game?

TheLegoman says:

Asphalt 7 is one of my favorite racing games. Good to hear that it is being offered on Windows Phone!