APP OF THE DAY: VS. Racing 2 review (iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch)

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review-line.JPGName: VS. Racing 2

Genre: Car Racing

Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Price: £0.69p from iTunes

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With the original in the series already boasting over 1 million players, VS. Racing 2 lands on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, looking to cement its title as the best arcade racer on the App Store. Can it claim the chequered flag, or does it wheelspin off course? Read on to find out!
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VS. Racing 2 is all about the thrill of the race. There’s next to no under-the-bonnet tinkering to deal with, no simulation-level control schemes to learn. Heck, there isn’t even an acceleration button! In the same spirit as classic arcade racers such as Super Offroad or Indy Heat, it’s a rough and ready scramble for the finish line. And it’s easily one of our favourite racers on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Viewed from a top down perspective, VS. Racing 2 wrestles control of acceleration and braking out of your hands, leaving you just to steer. As a result, it’s all about finding the best racing line, and pulling off clever power slides with which to overtake your competition. Races are short and blisteringly fast, with winding hairpin turns and challenging-but-fair rival AI-controlled racers in the campaign mode. Maybe it’s just the tension of each race, but we get the feeling that developers Maciek Drejak Labs crank up the acceleration and speed in the final lap of each race, adding to the excitement and risk of pulling a sharp corner. It’s great fun, with races the perfect length for short-burst, on-the-go play, but with enough addictive best time chasing and race rank challenges to keep you hooked for longer sessions.vs-racing-2-top.jpgWhile the usual tap to steer and accelerometer controls are available, you’re unlikely to use them very often as the default onscreen virtual steering wheel works so well. Placed on the lower right hand side of the screen (which may prove slightly uncomfortable for lefties), it sits nicely under the thumb, letting you easily and responsively guide your car around the twisting tracks. There’s a slight learning curve (lifting your finger off the wheel during a race resets it to a neutral position, meaning you can wildly veer off course if you’re not careful), but once you get the hang of its quirks it’s an accurate and fun way to drive.

A lengthy campaign mode spans 36 tracks, with plenty of unlockable, upgradeable cars to pick from. Upgrades are earned by collecting coins during races, which are dished out for wins and silky driving skills, such as dangerous overtakes or lengthy power slides. Coins can then be used to boost stats like top speed and acceleration. There’s also plenty of in-app purchases available, but thankfully they’re not necessary to compete at the top levels, and any advantages they offer can easily be accrued through skill alone in the campaign mode. Once you’ve beaten each track, you can then re-try them and chase a perfect 3-star rating on each, tracking your line and best time, in a similar way to Angry Birds, and just as addictive.vs-racing-2-mid.jpgMultiplayer options include 6-player local races over Wi-Fi, or 4-player over Bluetooth. The speedy racing action gets even more hairy here, with on-the-road power ups including nitro boosts, oil slicks, heat-seeking missiles and flaming bonnets letting you take out opponents as well as beat them to the line in a more traditional manner. Game Center integration allows for extra multiplayer options, including asynchronous Ghost Races against remote pals, letting you test their best times at your leisure.

Visually, VS. Racing 2 isn’t mind-blowing; it is, after all, a top-down 2D racer. However, it’s pin-sharp on a Retina display device, with detailed, colourful tracks, and plenty of nice graphical flourishes including offroad dirt clouds and smokey tire spins. It fits the arcade style thrills to a tee.

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Verdict:

We love VS. Racing 2. Perfect in short bursts and longer sessions alike, it’s an exciting racer that controls well, has great multiplayer options, addictive challenges and real pick-up-and-play simplicity without scrimping on features and a fairly stiff difficulty towards the end of the campaign. VS. Racing 2 costs just 69p, making it quite the bargain too. Racing fans would be doing themselves a disservice to miss it. You can snap up VS. Racing 2 by clicking here.

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5/5

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Gerald Lynch