Asphalt 9: Legends (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 08.10.2019

Review for Asphalt 9: Legends  on Nintendo Switch

If there's one man that doesn't know anything about mobile gaming (apart from the sleazy tactics used in that side of the industry), it's the one who's review you are reading right now - and, no those six hours of Subway Surfers don't... those three hours of Plants vs. Zombies don't count either... and the same goes for the 30 seconds of Candy Crush Saga. Long story short, yours truly was unaware of how popular and long-lived Gameloft's Asphalt series truly is. Luckily for Switch owners, the latest, and most successful iteration, Asphalt 9: Legends has just vrooomed to the platform. Featuring extremely flashy visuals, and a very arcade-y feel, will this win over the console crowd?

You can't spent one minute in Asphalt 9: Legends and not have a pop-up message appear in front of you. Drifted? Pop-up. Hit an obstacle. Pop-up! Made a 360 turn? Pop-up!!! Like all good mobile games, this focuses in making you feel as if you are always being awarded for something. Is that a bad thing? Certainly not. Just be aware that this is the main deal in here. Asphalt 9 is all about getting your endorphin fix by grinding for unlockables, be it new cars, upgrades, courses, or whole championships, and completing all sorts of "missions" and tasks.

No, those looking for a meaty, realistic racer won't find it here. Gameloft's creation is so simple, that it even lets you change the control scheme from manual to an automatic setting that has the vehicle drive on its own, with the player just handling what's left, like activating the nitro, choosing a path when needed, or doing a spin that ruins whoever it hits. "A spin in a racing game?" some may ask. Well, that's the thing, Asphalt 9 is so purposely unrealistic and arcade-y, that it feels that, underneath its cool and "serious" exterior, lies freaking Mario Kart!

Screenshot for Asphalt 9: Legends  on Nintendo Switch

This is all about driving at 300km/h, with Back to the Future-like lighting sparks engulfing the back of your car, while it pulls off Freestyle Motocross tricks, since you'll frequently run over ramps that send you flying for three seconds or more - amongst others. Asphalt 9: Legends is a big, dumb, flashy blockbuster that has you doing awesome stuff with Lamborghinis, Porches, and Ferraris, while some pretty neat dance tunes bop along, making you feel like a Fast and the Furious protagonist; minus the baldness, that is. And the muscles. Mainly the muscles.

Yes, the visuals are one of the biggest selling points of the series. Each and every one of the many muscle/super cars at hand look amazing, throwing out large quantities of sparks when hitting something, with their surfaces reflecting the spectacle around them. Water splashes on your screen; the camera rotates around and time slows-down when smashing with an opponent; and depth of field effects convey the sense of speed and distance; for a mobile title, Asphalt 9: Legends sure looks good on a home console, even if that's the humble Switch.

Note, however, that this is a straight port of the original, with no additional bells and whistles thrown in. Again, that isn't to say that it looks less stunning in the TV screen. Sure, the frame-rate is locked at a stable 30FPS, and there's noticeable aliasing literally everywhere, but the abundance in special effects, and the game's focus in being larger-than-life instead of lifelike, makes the lack of an "upgrade" much easier to stomach. Enough with the fireworks, though. What about the content on offer? Is there any reason to play this over any other racer on the market?

Screenshot for Asphalt 9: Legends  on Nintendo Switch

Probably the first incentive to try this out is its price. Unlike some F2P mobile titles that have reached the shores of the Switch, Asphalt 9 retains its original business model. More specifically, it's free to play, with in-game purchases that can speed things up a bit. What's that thing that needs speeding up? Well, pretty much everything, from getting cars and courses, to the credits required to upgrade your vehicles, and then some. Is there any reason to pay, though? Is this less of a F2P, and more of a pay-to-win experience?

Fortunately, with the right mindset, one can enjoy this without wasting a pence, as long as that that person doesn't mind a little bit (note: lots) of grinding. While not a fan of F2P games, yours truly found this to be a pretty fair handling of that system, especially since grinding for awards is actually part of the fun here. Furthermore, the reasonably-priced Starter Pack gives you a pretty good "push," which means that, besides this DLC, there's really no reason to give more of your hard-earned cash in here… unless that cash isn't hard-earned, of course.

Screenshot for Asphalt 9: Legends  on Nintendo Switch

Needless to say that all this emphasis in purchases, virtual or not, has a lot to do with the fact that skill isn't King here - upgrades are. This feels more like Final Fantasy, and less than a racer, as it's more about who has the biggest stick (fastest car), and not who knows how to use it correctly (sexual innuendo slightly not intended). Then again, no one in his or her right mind would play this for its deep racing mechanics. As mentioned before, this is all about making that lump of meat inside your head to produce some fun-hormones for your body to enjoy.

That isn't to say that the game isn't without flaws, the first being how repetitive it can soon start to feel. Playing Asphalt 9 practically means doing the same thing for more than 100 hours. In other words, this is best enjoyed in short, 30-minute bursts. A second issue is how, due to the whole unlock-ctathon nature of the game, this requires you to always be online, apart when it comes to the Quick Race mode. This means that those who like enjoying their Switch away from a reliable connection… simply won't be able to have much fun with this.

On the bright side, this is great for couch parties. There's a multiplayer component available, and it is fine and all, but to be perfectly honest, this is even better when experienced with a bunch of friends; obviously via the split screen method. The only issue here, and it's quite the big one, is pretty much the same problem mentioned before: skill doesn't matter much in here, therefore, if someone is in possession of car that is a product of hours upon hours of grinding and upgrading, then the rest will simply spend the match watching that person disappear in the distance.

Screenshot for Asphalt 9: Legends  on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

In Asphalt 9: Legends splashy visuals come first, collecting unlockables comes second, and skill proves to be a distant third. Having said that, it's tons of fun, at least, if not in search of realism, and despite the lack of decent variety, not to mention the fact that it's an always-online product. Moreover, this can definitely be enjoyed in its original, free form, or by simply spending a bunch of pounds to purchase the Starter Pack if you need to save yourself from more than 10 to 20 hours worth of grinding, but beyond that, the game won't really force you to do anything more besides from playing it.

Developer

Gameloft

Publisher

Gameloft

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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