When the Asphalt series debuted in 2004 I was actually something of a fan. I originally played the N-Gage version which was acceptable but honestly the Nintendo DS version is where the game really shined. The graphics were nice for a launch title and the wireless multiplayer worked rather well. The sequel took a while to come out but it was so much better than the first, featuring active gameplay that makes it feel like a light version of Burnout or Split/Second.

Then it switched over to being mainly a mobile game series and it all started going downhill. Graphically it felt like it all went downhill – while the number of cars went up the graphics became simpler so as to run smoother on iOS devices. The controls fared little better and I was basically waiting for the day when the game would return to consoles (while choosing to ignore the crappy Asphalt 3D on the Nintendo 3DS). Unfortunately it decided to do this with a mediocre port to the PS Vita.

While Asphalt: Injection features a large variety of cars and races, none of this really adds up to very much. In almost every way the game fumbles its own advantages almost to the point of unintentional hilarity. Except it really isn't because this could have been a very good game.

The box art proudly touts a large variety of cars which is a promise that the game itself does fulfill. But this loses a lot of its meaning when almost every car seems to control the exact same way. Since the Asphalt games embrace a more "arcade racing" design, like the old Need for Speed games, where speed and drifting are all that matters it would seem to be hard to differentiate them. But they still all feel far too similar – things like maximum speed or drifting ability feel like they're 100% the same between cars to the point that it all feels like it's just reskinning various vehicles.

Which isn't to say that the game really even controls all that well. The game feels pretty easy to play at first thanks to the fact that the tracks are simple and there is no traffic to speak of, likely a legacy of its mobile roots. Due to this early on you don't notice the poor controls. But as the race tracks get harder and the other racers get more aggressive the controls just start to feel unresponsive. All the game really wants you to do is go really fast and drift around corners but as the game goes on this gets harder to the do to the point of frustration. Annoyingly enough some races also manage to be almost pathetically easy, almost entirely at random. Why these difficulty spikes happen so randomly is a question that annoys me to this day.

But honestly nothing is worse than the fact that the game is so graphically weak. The PS Vita is a powerhouse of a machine but the graphics from the iOS game were barely tweaked upwards for this release. The cars look fine but the track and backgrounds look far too simplistic. Paired up with the utter lack of activity on these roads thanks to the thin traffic and the whole world just feels far too barren for a game on this console.

Perhaps all of these problems could be excused if the game was bargain priced. The versions you can get on smartphones cost only $6.99 so what you get is basically what you paid for. But here you are asked to pay $30 for a barely upgraded version of the exact same game. This isn't an upgraded version of a game like Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, this is literally just a port of a smartphone game dolled up slightly for a near full priced release and it shows.