Reckless Racing may very well be best looking top-down arcade racing game on the platform. Not only does it look great, this game is a blast to play. The game which was developed by Pixelbite Games and published by EA Mobile, takes you down South, deep in the heart of Dixie, for some bluegrass and “good ole” dirt slinging, motor revving, tire squealing action.
Game play is somewhat reminiscent of childhood favorite Off Road, but a lot faster and without the nitro or power-ups to help you boost your way to victory. Instead it’s all about how well you can handle your vehicle around the turns and who crosses the finish line first. Reckless Racing’s single player offering comes with three different game modes (across two different difficulty settings) Dirt Rally, Hot Lap and Delivery. Dirt Rally pits you against other drivers in a multi-lap sprint to the finish. Hot Lap is a time trial style mode where you race against the clock and your own ghost and try and improve your skills. Finally Delivery mode is a bit like Crazy Taxi, where you need to drive to a certain place on the map to pick up a package and then race to the specified drop off point where you’ll be awarded with points based on how quickly you delivered the item. You keep doing this until time runs out. All the modes are a lot of fun and I highly recommend getting your chops on Beginner Mode before attempting “Advanced”, as the car is a lot harder to control and will slip and slide all over the track like a greased pig.
What kind of racing game would Reckless Racing be if it didn’t offer head to head matches with other players? The good news is that the game also has online multiplayer versions of the Dirt Rally and Hot Lap game modes that let you compete against up to 3 other players. Although there are online leaderboards and you have the ability to trade ghost races with other players and text chat before a game, unfortunately the developer has opted for a proprietary multiplayer system which requires a new id and login. I wish that Pixelbite had instead chosen to use something like Game Center or OpenFeint making it easier to compete against your already established list of friends rather than complete strangers. I also noticed a fair amount of lag in many of my online matchups, with opponents often disappearing and reappearing further down the track. While this didn’t happen everytime, it was definitely more often than not. Hopefully this can be resolved in a future update.
The iPhone version of the game features five tracks (available in normal and reverse orientations), and the iPad release contains an additional 3 tracks (an their inverses). It is immediately apparent that a lot of time went into designing these detailed and stunning looking locales. The light and shadow details are amazing as are the dirt effects and flowing water, everything looks absolutely fantastic on my iPhone’s Retina Display. The camera is at the perfect height and distance to follow the game’s fast-paced action. The track choices offer a nice mix of length and substance from a short dirty rally tack known as Bubba’s Yard to the asphalt of Tarmac Lot and the long winding, narrow cliff hugging trails of Trasher Hill. It’s a bit of a shame that you’re often too busy frantically driving and drifing your way round the tracks to really take the time to admire the views. After playing for a while this limited number of tracks does get a bit repetitive (even with the unlockable reverse tracks). I would have liked to have had more track choices and hopefully this will be something that comes in a future update or even as a cheap DLC pack.
She’s a beauty, but how does it handle? Reckless Racing not only offers players their choice of 5 different control schemes ranging from a full virtual steering wheel to tilt controls, but each of these is fully customizable, allowing players to position them anywhere on the screen and even resize the buttons. This means that there is virtually no chance that you will not be able to find a control scheme you like. Personally I’ve chosen to go with separate left, right, gas and brake buttons, as I just didn’t like the feel of the virtual wheel (I have yet to find one that works as well for me as Chillingo’s Horror Racing).
Reckless Racing’s, twang-filled soundtrack sets the pace and mood of the game perfectly, as do the six off the wall vee-hic-cles including a semi, jeep and pickup truck. I can’t say that I noticed much difference in the handling of the vehicles, so the selection seems to be just to provide variety in looks. Each car comes with a crazy good old boy (or girl) driver with backwoods names like Bubba, Otis and Lurleen.
Reckless Racing is so much fun and is easily my new favortie top-down arcade racer on the platform. The stunning graphics, adrenaline pumping soundtrack, and solid single-player experience make up for the minor shortcomings of the multiplayer mode (which will hopefully be adressed soon). This game is a bargain at it’s regular price of $2.99 on the iPhone and $4.99 on the iPad, but right now for a limited time the iPhone release is actually on sale for just 99¢. I highly recommend grabbing this one ASAP before the price goes back up. I don’t wanna hear any hootin and hollering if you miss out on this incredible deal.