Reviewed: December 27, 2009
Released: December 15, 2009
App Store Price: $2.99
Chillingo has created another great as Speed Forge Extreme races onto the app store. This game reminds me of a mixture of two great classic games. Those games being Star Wars Episode 1 Racer for the Nintendo 64 and the Twisted Metal franchise on the PlayStation platforms. This game combines high speed races along with the weaponry and heated battles for one high octane experience that is the closest thing to WipeOut as you can get on your iPhone.
When you first launch the game, you are greeted with a great 3D title video that gives you a small sample of what youíre about to get into. You start the game with one vehicle, no weapons, and one goal on the first track, First Place. As you get first place in races and beat out your opponents in battles you will unlock more tracks and arenas, vehicles, and weapons. There are three difficultly levels that have the computer opponents racing harder and act more merciless as you race.
During my play time I could get by alright on the easy and medium difficulties, while the hard difficulty proved a lot more difficult. The game also boasts 5 different control patterns that use a variety of iPhone APIís to steer, control, shoot, and stop your ship. I found that it was easiest for me to use the accelerometer to steer, tapping and holding on my vehicle to brake, and tapping on buttons on the heads-up display to fire my weapons. (This is the default control pattern, I might add.) Other control schemes let you accelerate and decelerate with a slider on the heads up display, while others let you steer with arrows or the slider as well.
I have an iPhone 3GS and the load times are amazing, compared with this same game on an iPhone 3G where things slow down considerably. The races are usually pretty short, varying between 3 or 4 laps, depending on the length of the track. It took me about 3-4 minutes on average to complete a race. For the battles; however, your goal is to get to a set number of frags first. The only difficulty I found for the battles is that itís hard to find an opponent. Radar would have helped greatly, but if you use one of the other control configurations, then I understand why. I have found that everyone gathers in a cluster in one part of the arena, so make sure to have your weapons ready.
The graphics are nothing short of amazing on an iPhone 3GS. When you play the game, the effects are smooth, there are no frame rate problems, and the 3D effects are very realistic. The opening video for Speed Forge Extreme is easily PS3 quality and the game comes close to achieving that level of quality. The only flaws worth mentioning is that the default settings make some parts look too dark. There is an ďover brightĒ option to help this and it certainly helps. Also, if you do not press a button on the screen for awhile, the auto lock, brightness decrease kicks in. I only found this problem to be an issue during the initial races, where you press very few buttons during the race and only on the default control pattern. Overall though, this is one game that is a great pick for those who love great graphics.
Speed Forge Extreme has a techno kind of soundtrack perfectly suited to a hovercraft racing game set in the year 2142 with energetic music that helped to get me into the racing mood. Sound effects were sadly not as good. To me, the sounds of bumping against the wall and the explosions, while realistic, are a little too loud. The only major thing missing is an option to control your iPod music within the game. However, with a great soundtrack, Iím willing to overlook this for now. (Although, you can control it by the double Home button click, as long as you started your music before you launched the game, or use Voice Control on a 3GS.)
Value, unfortunately, is an issue with this game. With no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi multiplayer, the repetitiveness of the solo game equates to a low replay value. You donít really have much of a game to play once you unlock everything, which can be done in a few hours. I have played though at least 1/3 of the game on the Hard difficulty, and almost all of the game for the easy and medium difficulties, and I unlocked all of the tracks, weapons, and most of the vehicles after the first run. So once you complete the game thatís it. I would think that the game would greatly benefit from the multi-player options. Like some games in the first-person shooter genre, this game could become an instant classic, played years after release online and in local networks. I am looking forward to these options on a future update.
Overall, Speed Forge Extreme has the makings to make it big in the app store. Itís a high-octane racing game with great graphics and energetic soundrack that is fun and captivating to play for as long as it lasts. If there were more ways to play or a possible way to add in app purchases for different weapon sets, more tracks, or better vehicles, you'd have a classic. RatSquare started with a great game and has the opportunity to make it legendary.