iPad Game Review: Reckless Racing HD Reviewed by Guy Dayen
Many people in the gaming community were waiting for this game for over a year. Online forums were full of discussions, speculations and rumors. The game began as a project by a group called Pixelbite before being picked up by Electronic Arts. Pixelbite had been very forthcoming with game info, but from the moment that EA came into the picture, there was almost total silence about the game, leading some to speculate that the project might even have been shelved. Some people despaired that the game would ever see the light of day. Deliberate strategy on the part of EA? More work to bring the game to the finish line than had been anticipated? Whatever the case, it all contributed to the intense anticipation surrounding this game. And now, it?s finally here... Was it worth the wait, the back-and-forth arguments, the anguish and hand-wringing, the scrambling for crumbs of information? In one resounding word: YES!!!
Here?s your chance to slip behind the wheel of six different miniature vehicles and let your inner Bubba reign supreme on eight different race tracks. If you?ve ever felt like you may have a drop of good ol? boy in you, here?s your chance to let it moonshine through as you race against the game in single player mode, or against the world through the Wi-Fi online multiplayer mode.
The game itself is straightforward racing goodness. Nothing too fancy here in terms of customizing vehicles (apart from the chance to change colors), and it isn?t needed. The game isn?t a racing simulation, it?s a racing game. Just have fun with it and spin, drift and jump your heart out on the best topdown racing tracks on the iPad. The level of graphic details is simply amazing in this game; you?ll see the usual roads and buildings of course, but you?ll also come across cliffs, rivers, barrels, fences, traffic signs, trees, holes in the ground, ramps ... the list goes on and on. And it?s in 3D, which makes the game really come alive in a way that leaves 2D topdown racers, well ... flat! You won?t believe the coolness factor as your car looks as it drifts into a turn, slams into a guardrail in a shower of sparks, and sends a stop sign flying off in the distance.
As a single player, you can race in three different modes: there?s the Dirt Rally mode, in which you race with five other AI opponents, and there are two time Trial modes in which your aim is to beat the best time: Hot Lap time trial or Delivery time trial. Multiplayer online games let you race in dirt Rally mode with up to three (presumably) human opponents.
Controlling your car is very simple, and this will have great appeal to the casual racing enthusiast. It?s no fun trying to race if you can?t even get your car to go where you want it to. That?s not a problem here; driving is easy, and the controls are quick, smooth and responsive. Yet, Reckless Racing HD still provides plenty of challenges in the advanced driver mode to keep hard-core racers happy.
You can choose from five different ways of driving your car, and you can customize the placement of the controls on the iPad screen to make them feel just right for you. There are really no power ups in the game; your raw driving skills and your daring street maneuvers will be the key to winning the race. Oh, and don?t be afraid to slam into your opponent and drive him into the wall - it?s all part of the show!!!
The game keeps track of your performance through online leader boards. I confess I?ve run the same track time and again in an effort to at least crack the top five hundred. It?s not as easy as you may think, because there are lots of players online. This is a great thing if you feel like racing real people; the game lets you easily find game rooms or set one up yourself. Opponents will join you in no time. There is a chat function if you feel like indulging in some trash talk before or after the race. Keep in mind, however, that you may be racing against kids, so watch the language, please. This is a family game, after all.
One of the best elements of the game is the graphic design. The 3D world you?ll be driving in is amazing, and it adds so much to the experience that I can?t conceive this game being designed any other way. After this, any 2D topdown racer seems lifeless and boring. Reckless Racing HD is THE new standard for topdown, and it raises the bar very high indeed.
There is an assortment of cars, with customizable colors. The drivers are a bunch of cartoony and colorful personalities, with lots of character appeal. Kids especially, will love taking on one of those kooky personas.
But where this game really shines is in the course designs. There are eight courses included in the game, going from racing on a simple dirt track to going crazy on city streets and parking lots, or around an island. There are so many elements everywhere that it?s impossible to see everything the first time. You?ll hit barrels, walls, trees, boxes, walls, fences, and more. You?ll see tire tracks and rubber streaks appear by magic as you barrel along the course. You?ll cross streams, cheer as your racing rivals drive right into gaping holes and laugh maniacally as you watch your pitiful opponents fall off the edges of sheer cliffs as you drive by like greased lightning, in complete control of your mini muscle car. I love seeing traffic signs go flying off into the street after I smashed into one while drifting into a tight hairpin curve. There?s a massive amount of details here, with shadows, flames, flying debris and more. It?s iPad gaming at its best.
One little quibble in the graphics department: when playing online games, there is sometimes a small lag, and the cars will flicker as you race. In a few instances, the cars will disappear for a split second and reappear a little farther on in the track. It?s not bad enough to detract from the racing experience, but upgrading the game servers to more powerful processors would probably resolve this issue easily. This is something that should be taken care of quickly, as the Reckless Racing HD community will expand quickly as word of mouth gets around and people talk up this great game.
As with all great racing games, atmosphere is everything. Squealing tires, screeching brakes, revving engines - they?re all here. Add to that the satisfying crunch of metal on metal when you collide with another vehicle or with any of the hard elements on the course, and you have a totally immersive experience. Play this with headphones for even more auditory goodness. Those around you who aren?t also racing at the moment will probably thank you, anyway.
The music comes from south of the Mason-Dixon line for sure. If you?re not a fan of the banjo, you?ll be one of those folks turning down that music. (There?s no option to use your own music.) But if you?ve always wanted to be a Duke of Hazzard and let out a rebel yell, you?ll be in hog heaven!
Anyone who?s ever played with Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Trik Trak or slot cars will love this racing game. The topdown view gives you access to the coolest racing layouts you could ever have dreamt of as a kid. It?s like your little cars came to life, and you?re in control. Granted, this is no Need for Speed or Real Racing, but it?s not meant to be. It?s a much more casual and fun approach. Even people who don?t like racing games will love this! Pick your car, get some opponents (real or AI) and get ready for a great time. It?s a terrific family game to pass and play; fine for adults and children alike, since the mayhem is of the old-fashioned Saturday morning cartoon variety. Families with more than one device will have a blast racing against each other. The five dollar price tag for a game this polished is a very good value. You?ll find yourself picking this game up repeatedly. The temptation for ?just one more race? is hard to resist. The topdown racing experience of Reckless Racing HD is second to none, and this game is definitely headed for the Winner?s Circle. In summary; don?t wait. Get on the iTunes Store today and get this game!
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5): 5
Graphics: - 4.5 - Sixteen tracks, excellent course layouts, tons of 3D details, a great variety of environments and tons of stuff to run into and destroy. It?s clear a lot of loving attention to detail has been lavished on this game. The only issue I had was some flicker while playing online multiplayer races; hopefully this will be resolved soon with upgraded servers. ( By the way, I hope that more courses will be added in future updates - hint, hint, EA!!!) Sound: - 4.5 - You might find yourself with a new appreciation for banjo music after spending a few hours behind the wheel. You may even grow to love the roar of revving engines and screeching brakes. Great sound design, but some might like the option to create their own racing soundtrack and there is no option to use one?s own music. Controls: - 5- Five different ways to control your car, moveable controls and two levels of difficulty, make this a game that allows for just the perfect control scheme for each individual. Let?s hear it for true customization! Gameplay: - 5 - Silky smooth animation, lots of game modes, beautiful environments, a great sense of humor and online play with chat capabilities all add up to a winning combination.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Practice with all five control schemes; you?ll soon find the one you are most comfortable with. For me, the standard mode rocks and I find it the most natural to use. You may prefer something else, but give them all a try! - Tight turns are the key to winning close races, so look at the arrows on the course and anticipate those hairpins! - There are hidden shortcuts hidden along the courses. When you?re playing by yourself, take the time to explore. The experience you gain will give you a real tactical advantage when you race.