Category: Racing games
Seller: Cobra Mobile
Requirements: iPhone OS 3.2
File Size: 77.9MB
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Age Rating: 4+
Apple sure does love the racing games, dont they? I can’t recall a single game-oriented commercial for the iPhone or iPod touch that didn’t feature a disembodied pair of hands tilting the device this way and that as metal speeds down asphalt. And why? Because the accelerometer sucks for just about every other type of game, so what else are you going to show people tilting the device for? Pac-Man?
Thankfully for Apple, iPhone racing games are outnumbered only by iPhone fart apps, it would seem. Thankfully for us, too, because most of these are actually pretty good. One of the first to the iPad was Cobra Mobile’s Low Grav Racer 2 HD, and if Apple is looking for a racing game to show off in an iPad commercial, they’d do well to consider this one.
Low Grav Racer 2 HD (LGR2) allows you to race space ships across 18 different “space systems.” You’re familiar with tracks like this…they twist and turn and loop in ways that real life race tracks simply couldn’t, and you move through them at crazy speeds. The effect is more like riding a roller coaster than racing a car, but I suppose that’s the point.
Controlling the ship is a simple matter of tilting the iPad, which is much more comfortable to do than I expected. I’m not sure if the accelerometer in the iPad is better than that in the iPhone or if the larger size just makes for better control, but I found my turns to be much more accurate with the larger device.
If you don’t like the accelerometer (and if you don’t like it here, you won’t like it anywhere), you can choose to steer your ship by tapping buttons on the left and right of the screen. Whichever method you choose, the only other control options are a brake button on the left side and a weapons button on the right (for using the power-ups and weapons you acquire by driving over them on the track). All are easy enough to hit while not cluttering up the screen.
Other options include the ability to play your own music and to view the race from within the cockpit or from behind your ship
The tracks themselves are something to behold, lit in stylized colors and set against funky alien planet backdrops. We’ve seen this depiction of future racers a dozen times over, but it still looks cool, especially on the high def iPad. The courses whiz by at an amazing speed with nary a hiccup to be had.
The easy controls and fluid animation make this a perfect game for showing off to friends, especially now that v1.1 brings 3D to the mix. True enough, if you’ve got a pair of red/blue 3D glasses lying around, put them on and really get into the game…for a bit, anyway. If you’re like me, you’ll find the novelty of 3D wears off quickly, and you’ll be happier with the better color and lack of screen flashing in the 2D version.
But, after you’re done showing the game off, is it still fun to play? At that point, it really comes down to how much of a race fan you are. When I’m faced with choosing my space ships based on my style and the idiosyncrasies of the tracks, when missile and bomb accuracy becomes more important than racing strategy, when I’m not able to win unless I hit speed boosts and time warps, my interest wanes.
Thankfully, LGR2 never gets too heavy into that. You’re not tricking out your ships, you’re just selecting them. Fine. The races do get pretty tough pretty quickly, but considering you only have to master the brake button and the turns, beating them is more a matter of memorizing the tracks and hitting the right power-ups than it is of polishing your racing skills.
As a result, LGR2 is kind of a racing game for those who don’t love racing games. Hard core genre fans will likely lose interest at the lack of customizability. Racing dilettantes, however, will pick it up and tackle a “space system” every time they want to show off their new iPad to a friend…or just feel like tilting something.