I have been a big fan of the Asphalt racing games on iOS for a while now. I have played more than three or four versions of this game on the iPhone and the iPad combined. I have always had a very pleasant experience with them and Asphalt 8 Airborne 2016 is no exception. However I have a few issues with Asphalt 8 that I did not experience with the previous versions. Read along for more details.
Asphalt 8 Airborne 2016 Gameplay
One of the biggest reasons, I like the Asphalt series on the iOS is the simplicity of the games. Racing games in general are simple, but Asphalt's construction is also simple, be it how each season has only a few (non-confusing) set of races like Classic, Knockdown, Elimination, to name a few or be it how easily customizable the game controls are. In my opinion, any game should be designed such that, till you actually start playing it, it should be fast and straight forward. And once the gameplay starts then it can be as complex as it wants, as that makes it more challenging. Or in other words, the game should be clutter free and there should not be too much of a setup time or effort needed before you can actually start racing. Asphalt series games generally shine in this regard and so does, Asphalt 8 Airborne 2016.
Graphics & Performance
My review of Asphalt 8 Airborne 2016 is predominantly based on my experience playing it on the iPad Pro 9.7" and a little on the iPhone 7 Plus or basically only on the latest and the best hardware products from Apple. Hence this section of my review might be a little biased. But having said that, it is truly noteworthy how (similar to most of its prequels) Asphalt 8 stuns with both top notch graphics and botchless performance. Asphalt 8 has some of the best visual effects I've seen in a racing game, not just on iOS, but even compared to console games. Even with such resource-expensive graphics, I did not experience any visual lag, stutter, freezes or crashes, not even once, neither on the iPad nor on the iPhone, during the several hours I've played the game in the last few months. This is truly a remarkable achievement even when you consider the superior hardware I was playing this game on, as I mentioned before. Some screenshots are attached below.
Value and challenge
Asphalt 8 Airborne 2016 for iOS is free as of today, so its hard to judge it for its value. But putting that aside, let's judge it based on the time we put into the game and what sort of entertainment value it provides for that time. Not including the multiplayer option and other special events, there are around ten seasons and each season has around a couple of dozen races. All seasons are not available, all at once to play, of course and you have to progressively unlock them.
Also bear in mind that though this game is free to play, it has in-App purchases enabled. So for the game makers the challenge was to create a good balance between game value or experience and the revenue the game generates for them. And in my experience, so far, five seasons in, I have not needed to spend even a penny in in-App purchases and I'm only an average gamer. Hence I would say that the game provides excellent value in this regard without trying to exploit the user through in-App purchase, like (unfortunately) many iOS games nowadays. I've had to try a few races multiple times to beat them, I've have had to go play simpler races again to earn enough to upgrade cars (upgrades that are needed to win some particularly difficult races), but nothing has been overly excruciating or irritating so far.
If you remember the introduction section, I had mentioned that Asphalt 8 has some annoyances compared to the previous versions and this is due to the in-App advertisements and promotions. The game is free to play and like I said in my previous section, you don't need to buy any in-App purchases to play the game. However there is always a price for anything. And in this case, its the in-App advertisements and cluttered promotions.
There are certain places, where the in-App advertisements are done right, like you are allowed to choose to watch an advertisement after a race, to double your winnings. This is perfectly fine as the user has control over this experience. But there are other Ads that pop up from no where crowding the entire screen every few minutes or so. And then there are these banner Ads that spring up from the bottom of the page. To add to these, there are constant promotions of new events, sales or discounts for in-App purchases, etc. While I agree that some of this is necessary as the game studio needs to make money, the way its currently implemented, it makes the game appear cheap and click baity(?). I would love to pay a few bucks in an in-App purchase to just get rid of these annoying Ads!
In spite of the Ads annoyance, Asphalt 8 Airborne 2016 for iOS is a great game for racing game lovers and it can accommodate beginners and challenge Pro gamers equally. The game is almost a steal as its free to play. The graphics and the stability of the game are best in class and the in-App purchases (for fancier cars and quicker season unlocks) are done right, as in, the game is perfectly playable and enjoyable without needing these in-App purchase enabled upgrades.