Reckless Racing HD review
It's been awhile since we've had a good arcade racer in the same league as, say, the old Super Off Road arcade games by Tradewest. You know, the ones where we didn't have to worry about fancy 3D graphics but could kick up all sorts of dirt from a top-down perspective. Well, thanks to Electronic Arts and those nutty geniuses at Pixelbite, we get to do just that with Reckless Racing HD, now available for the iPad. (A version is also available for iPhone and iPod Touch, if those are your platforms of choice.)
In the game, you'll hop behind the wheel of a power-packing roadster and take part in a series of events, including Dirt Rally (straightforward races), Hot Lap (trying to score the best time possible) and Delivery (Crazy Taxi-style missions where you go from point A to point B with specific items in the fastest time possible). Each of these races take place in a top-down perspective, so you can keep a close eye on your car while watching out for dangerous turns and cliffs in all of the stages. You'll also need to watch out for the opposing racers. In Bronze difficulty, they're a breeze, but bump your way up to Silver and Gold and they'll become relentless -- which is just the way we like 'em.
Reckless Racing HD features various control types, including the option to tilt your device for steering (probably the least recommended) or using on-screen buttons to steer (Tank is your best bet, even with the auto acceleration). No matter which way you go, you'll have no trouble winding across the turns on each stage, feeling the mud kick up and having nothing but a good ol' time in the process. It hunkers back to the classic gameplay of older games, even without the dinky little steering wheel in your hand. EA and Pixelbite couldn't have handled it any better than they have here.
Along with single player tournaments and events, Reckless Racing HD also supports online play through Wi-Fi connectivity. We were a little skeptical at first at how four-player races would wind up, with connection speed and all. However, we were pleasantly surprised, as the game handles extraordinarily well with three other friends in the fray. There are online leaderboards as well, so if you can't find direct competition, you can still find plenty of challengers.
The game looks terrific. Using an awesome Retina Display, the high-definition visuals really shine through on the iPad. You'll see every bit of detail on the tracks, from when your car sparks after landing from a jump to knocking over road cones and splashing in water puddles. The car models are great and the levels themselves are wonderfully designed, no matter if you’re racing them backwards, forward or mirrored. The only real complaint is that there are only eight tracks in all. That's not a bad count, especially compared to the five the original Reckless comes with. Still, we'd prefer a few more via DLC. EA, get on it.
As for music, it's nothing spectacular, but it'll make you feel like a good ol' boy. Fun little banjo beats and car-crunching sound effects certainly fit the bill.
For $4.99, you won't find a better racer on the iPad right now. Reckless Racing HD is a superior ode to the retro days of racing, while retaining enough fresh elements to make you feel like you're playing a polished racer from today. Download it and kick up some dirt.