My favorite racing game on iOS is without a doubt Reckless Racing 2. It expanded on the first game in every way and I might even call it “perfect”, for what it is. What was so great about it? Well, aside from having a huge campaign, tons of modes, tracks, cars, and upgrades, flawless multiplayer and great graphics, what I loved most was how well they nailed drifting. It just felt amazing to point your car’s nose to the inside of a corner and execute a perfect slide all the way around it without so much as a scratch. Ratrod Studio’s Drift Mania: Street Outlaws (out now, $0.99) is after that same feeling, and I’m happy to report they pretty much nail it as well.
This makes sense, because in Street Outlaws the focus is only on drifting. When a turn approaches (and there are plenty) just touch the handbrake to lock your wheels and prepare to slide. It’s pretty exhilarating, and by the end of a course it’s not uncommon to find your heart pounding and your hands clenched tight on your iDevice. It’s almost hard to put into words, but the bottom line is it just feels great. On the realism scale I’d say the drifting physics are halfway between heavyweights Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8, and that’s okay. There’s a pretty large gap there and Outlaws absolutely owns it.
The game’s career mode is probably where you’re going to spend most of your time. Your goal is to race through 8 different courses (or 12 if you want to pay a rather steep in-game fee for the final four), racking up the highest score possible. To do this you just have to drift your heart out, avoiding walls and “off track” areas. At the end you’ll be given a medal and (hopefully) the next course will be unlocked. You’ll also unlock different upgrades for each car which are plentiful and priced fairly.
Speaking of money, a great way to earn cash is through the game’s battle mode. It’s a tournament of sorts where you’ll play three races against AI-controlled cars. You earn significantly more from this than just through the career mode. Of course, if meat-based competition is more your thing you can also hop into the online multiplayer, though in all honesty I was never able to get it to work. It was hard to find matches and when I did, my opponent would leave or be disconnected within the first 20 seconds. Rounding things out is the practice mode, for those of you who would rather not earn money while you hone your skills, I guess (though in fairness this mode does have a fun bonus parking lot course).
While I enjoy Street Outlaws quite a bit, it definitely has it’s share of problems. Along with the aforementioned online issues, I also experienced crashes on occasion, though that could be because I reviewed the game mostly on an iPad 2. Less forgivable, however, was when I updated the app and it wiped my progress. Luckily I was practiced enough by that time (and the game is fun enough) that it wasn’t too much of a hassle to work my way back through. Finally, probably my biggest beef is the fact that you can’t adjust the on-screen buttons. This is a problem because the handbrake is a tiny little icon in very bottom left corner of the screen, making it really awkward to use. I would have loved to just be able to tap the entire left side of the screen to handbrake and the right side to accelerate, but no luck.
Despite these issues, I still find it easy to recommend Drift Mania: Street Outlaws to racing fans. It’s almost weird even calling it a racing game, in fact, since finishing a course in a timely manner is barely more than an afterthought on a list of achievements. That’s okay, though. There are plenty of other games on the App Store to scratch that itch. If you wanna slide, though, this could be your new favorite iOS game.
iFanzine Verdict: The latest entry in Ratrod’s Drift Mania series takes things to the streets, as it were, and the results are awesome. Though it’s nowhere close to being without its share of problems, the driving itself is rock solid and that’s all that really matters. If you are a fan of drifting around corners in finely tuned vehicles while racking up huge scores, look no further.