There are only so many different ways to control a vehicle in a race on a touchscreen, right? I mean, you’ve got tilt steering, tapping on the right and left sides of the screen, maybe a virtual stick or steering wheel and that’s about it.
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Maybe not. Marvelous Games and Genera Mobile have teamed up for Touch Racing 2, a game that has you race cars, boats and off-road vehicles using one of the most instinctive control systems for a racing game to date. It’s easy to grasp and a lot of fun, but other aspects of the gameplay experience keep this from becoming a must-download for your iOS device.
I’m not sure if the serious remote control racing scene is a cutthroat one in real life, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that it is. Touch Racing 2 imagines you as a newcomer to the RC circuit, anxious to show off your racing skills in three different disciplines. Switching back and forth between a racecar, off-road truck and boat is an essential part of the game, keeping it from getting stale too quickly.
The control scheme I raved about earlier is both simple and ingenious. Regardless of which vehicle you’re using, you simply drag a circle out from it to go straight — the farther you get the line ahead of the vehicle, the faster your straight-ahead speed — and drag it in any direction to make turns. It’s like you are leading the car or boat around by a virtual leash, which is a joy in the top-down camera view. You can even switch hands when the track gets too far toward the opposite side of the screen. There’s also support for the virtual wheel and even a gamepad, so there’s plenty to like in this area.
Unfortunately, that and the myriad of customization options are the only real superlative parts of the game. Each vehicle has numerous parts you can upgrade for performance purposes (engine, body, tires, chassis, etc.) and some cool extras that are merely aesthetic in nature. You can buy them with either coins won during races or with diamonds earned by winning boss races or bought via in-app purchases. Curiously, some upgrades can be acquired either way, with others restricted to only using diamonds, and it’s kind of annoying when the game notifies you an upgrade is available and it turns out that it’s a diamond-ony deal.
The single-player races use a ladder system not unlike the ones in the CSR Racing series, and you get an obvious prompt when you attempt to take an underpowered vehicle into a race. The problem is that it’s the only real way to challenge yourself; sticking to the recommended speed and handling stats, especially for boss battles, makes any attempt ridiculously easy to win unless the track is especially devious — and some of the boat courses with multiple waterfalls do fall into that category. A multiplayer mode is also an option to earn extra coins, though you have to register via Facebook to use it and get a strange error message if you don’t.
Graphically, Touch Racing 2 is kind of an odd beast, as it feels like more effort went into the tracks and some parts of the UI than anything else. It’s cool to see fish and other aquatic life swimming around underneath the boats, but it’s not as cool to see weird flickering at the side of the screen during routine menus. The vehicle models are also not quite as sharp as you’d expect them to be. It’s hard to say for sure if the most notable sound effect is a positive or negative — the game literally yells at you when the obligatory gas/energy system has refilled, a feature that startled people in my house on multiple occasions.
If the controls in Touch Racing 2 were married to a more complete, polished package, it would be the kind of title that would be earning non-stop raves for weeks. Instead, Marvelous and Genera get more of a nice pat on the back for one killer feature and some crossed fingers that updates or the next sequel smooth off some of the rough edges.
Pull the trigger on Touch Racing 2 if …
- You want to experience the best driving controls on a mobile racing game to date
- You like the idea of three different kinds of RC vehicles to master
- Playing a maximum of seven races in one session is all you’re looking for in terms of time commitment
Don’t pull the trigger if …
- You’re looking for a racing game with top-of-the-line graphics and sound
- A difficult challenge is important to you
- Small glitches and bugs bother you a lot