Any teenager who's ever taken Driver's Ed has seen the splatfest instructional film "Red Asphalt," where scenes of mayhem and destruction from car wrecks are shown in order to exhibit the dangers of reckless driving. Things such as gnarled wrecks and blood-splattered highways make even those with a strong stomach queasy. This being the case, Interplay must have based their version of Red Asphalt on the video, because the object of the game is to leave your enemy's car in a burning wreck and splatter their blood all over the highway. It ain't pretty, and it is sure as hell ain't a Sunday drive in the park. Be vicious, be ruthless, or be roadkill. So many people, and only Jackal will survive!!!!
Red Asphalt is a combat racing game, and although this is not a new concept, it certainly adds a couple new twists to the genre. You are one of several entrants in a Grand Prix of Death. Along the way, you have to kick some major 'boss ass' in order to reach the Arena of Death where you will face Draenek, the final boss. You pick one of six different characters, each with different abilities in such skill areas as driving, tactical, and aggression. Each character has their own personality and make-up. Then you have to buy a car, uh, Machine of Mass Destruction, which also has various traits and price tags. Then you are on your merry way...straight into hell.
The object of each race is to qualify in the top three to gain 2,000,000 Chaos points in order to go on to the next world, of which there are five. You can also pick up cash on the track or as prize money in order to customize your car and make it more powerful. You can also gain experience points which can enhance the character you have chosen. To win, come in first. To come in first, blow everyone else away. Simply put, there are no rules.
The graphical presentation of the tracks in this game are killer. You start in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles world with 7 tracks (reminiscent of the L.A. track in Twisted Metal 2). There are cranes working overhead and cars whizzing by off the track and all sorts of other secondary motion. Each track has many contrasts, from going through underground dimly lit tunnels to large 4-lane freeways. Things only get better as you move on to Hell World (much like Amazonia from TM 2). The above ground portion is dark and ominous with erupting volcanoes and dripping lava. Then you go subterranean into the depths of hell replete with lava pits and branching caves. There are multiple paths on each track, which is a plus as it allows for variety. Blowing up other cars results in a brilliant white explosion, which is pretty cool. The best graphical effect has to be when you use the nitro, especially if you are just going into a tunnel. Once you hit it, you accelerate like mad and everything "stretches" and screams past you. It is as if you are going into warp and the tunnel is pulling you in. This is the best nitro I have ever seen...
As Red Asphalt is a racing combat game, I am pretty impressed that the racing part isn't downplayed. The cars each have different handling and cornering capabilities as well as different top speeds. The way you fix up your cars also determines how you handle. With a better engine, you have more power. With better tires and suspension, you have better cornering and can take ramps/jumps/landings much easier. If you hit an oil slick or take a turn too tightly, you spin out. Granted, you are not going to be able to drift or use draft as in other racing games, but for big clunky-looking tanks, they handle pretty well.
But if the racing part of the game isn't downplayed, then the combat part is. Each car only has one offensive and one defensive weapon. I would liked to have to seen more weapons and the ability to scroll through them. On one car you get a plasma cannon and some mines for defense. On another car there are rockets and oil slicks. It would have been more constructive (or destructive) to have included missiles, cannons, lasers, bombs, mines, flame-throwers and whatever else you can cram onto the cars.
Another complaint I have is the lack of a split-screen option. This game was made to be played by multiple players, but the only way to do this is to link two consoles together, which is very lame. Also, there is only one camera view and no cockpit view. I find this disappointing because using defensive weapons is difficult if you can't see what's coming up behind you. Your radar lets you know someone is coming, but not how close they are. I would have liked a higher or wider view from the outside.
I really liked the concept behind Red Asphalt. The more people you blow up the better you feel. The tracks are challenging and there's good variety. However, the lack of a good multi-player option seriously takes away from the game. Further, the lack of firepower seriously detracted from the 'combat' experience. You can never have enough firepower. You can never have enough mayhem. You can never have enough destruction!