Mobile games are becoming more and more advanced. Sports Car Challenge is one of the best examples of just how developed this industry has become. This game has official Volkswagen AG licensing, which means that you'll be driving some premier vehicles from Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen. That's a pretty decent selection of cars to race with and each has their own distinct handling qualities.
There are also five tracks to race on: Black Forest, Yunlong Lake, Zhuhai International Circuit, Shanghai Audi International Circuit and Singapore by Night. Each track has its own personality. Yunlong Lake for examples offers no grip for any car in the game. The snow and ice make for a very interesting lesson in basic car control. The other tracks each have their own unique twists and turns, such as Singapore's intense double apex twisties and Black Forest's tight hairpin turns.
Controls are tight but very different to traditional racing games. Accelerating is out of player control. This leaves steering, gear shifting and braking to the player. Learning to switch digits between left and right while steering takes some getting used to but you develop a rhythm with practice and time. You can also switch to accelerometer controls for steering if you wish as well. The interface you see is typically spartan with a rev counter integrated with your speedometer and gear number indicator all appearing on the top right of your screen. Manual gearing is also optional. Swipes up and down on any part of the game screen are used to facilitate this. Buttons to access the pause menu and camera options are placed on the top left of your screen. I feel that a more conservative approach to controls would've made playing this game far simpler.
From a physics standpoint Sports Car Challenge is somewhat impressive. Heavier cars take longer to turn. All-Wheel and front-driven vehicles understeer when pushed too hard into bends. Rear wheel drive cars can oversteer. It would be unfair to expect proper simulation physics from a mobile game but handling is convincing in general. While car handling is nowhere near as aggressive as Carmageddon, you will get punished for mistakes and this only adds to the challenge.
Graphically, the most attention has been given to the vehicles over the tracks. While you see some basic lighting effects such as lens flares the textures that show up on track are sparse at best and very low resolution. Low quality texture filtering is used on fencing, roads and buildings and barely any reflections are seen anywhere on screen apart from on the cars themselves. This is apparent when you see that trees and skyboxes are 2D sprites.
There were occasional framerate hitches on my Samsung Galaxy S3 but for the most part the game performed fine, which leads me to believe that graphical quality on the courses had to be scaled down on track to accommodate for the better looking cars. Hardware limitations on mobile devices may have necessitated this tradeoff. Perhaps Volkswagen wanted to market their vehicles above the locations available in-game. The cars themselves look great with reflections shifting over curved bodies. Little details like 3d modelled headlights and exhaust pipes are clearly highlighted along with lovingly recreated body lines. Using the cockpit view of the cars you see the painstaking details that were paid attention to during the car modelling process. It has to be said that not all of the vehicles featured in this game have been given attention like the Lamborghini Aventador or Bentley Continental GT Supersports ISR. This is most prominent on the Porsche 911 Carrera S.
There aren't many cars to choose from but this is primarily due to the lack of licensing. Games like EA's Real Racing 3 and CSR Racing have more vehicles - but this is also because of their parent companies' relationships with auto manufacturers. Sports Car Challenge is invested in by Volkswagen China - and as a result you see primarily Chinese race tracks featured. Unfortunately until other car makers offer support to FishLabs, you're not going to see any more vehicles being added to the game out of the brands currently on offer.
The price tag needs to be mentioned too. Sports Car Challenge is a free game, and you're getting what you pay for. Real Racing 3 for example is free to play but to get more content you'll be forking out extra for any content you'll want. FishLabs Entertainment has done well in this regard by providing challenging tracks and a respectable selection of vehicles with which to race. It's not too shabby I say.
Sports Car Challenge is available for free on the Google Play Store and Apple mobile devices on the Apple App Store.
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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd