It feels like we’ve been waiting a dog’s age for Pixelbite’s Reckless Racing. First seen as Deliverace at the beginning of the year, many iPhone / iPod / iPad owners could’ve been forgiven for thinking the game had suffered the fate of many an ambitious game on IOS – disappearing into development hell to stay there forever.
Luckily for Pixelbite, Reckless Racing caught the attention of EA and with the mighty gaming giant making more inroads into iPhone stuff, Reckless Racing must’ve looked like an attractive proposition for the publisher.
For starters, it looks unlike any other top-down racer yet seen on iPhones. The graphics are crystal clear and beautifully detailed, and even on my humble 2G iPod Touch (swiftly becoming the poor cousin for i-gaming) the game runs perfectly smoothly.
Best of all though, right off the bat it’s worth mentioning that the biggest worry I had about the game, the control system, is perfectly tuned and comes with a multitude of different options to suit even the grumpiest i-gamer.
Reckless Racing follows the old-skool racing game design ethos shared by superb arcade racers such as Ivan Ironman Stewart’s Off Road Racer and the immortal Super Sprint series. Tiny little cars race around different track environs, and each vehicle has its own characteristics. Amongst the various cars ranging from an off road A-frame buggy to a hulking great big Humvee wannabe you’ll find a favourite that has the balance of handling and speed you’re most comfortable with.
Going back to the control system for a moment, most screenshots show the dreaded on-screen button setup that has ruined many an iPhone game. This control system isn’t actually that bad, and is fully customisable to allow you to alter the detection zones for your accelerate / brake / left / right controls. Better though is the fact that you can also choose between tank controls (acceleration always on, with the player tapping the screen for brake and just concentrating on the steering), a half steering wheel (which you touch/drag to steer), a full steering wheel (again, this works surprisingly well) and a couple of others. This sort of attention to playability should be part and parcel of any iPhone action game let alone any racing game, so it’s nice to see Pixelbite catering for just about anyone’s taste when it comes to controls.
Championship races are simple laps around each track type competing for unlockables. Choosing difficulty levels first, you then face off against AI opponents intent on driving you off the road and nabbing first place for themselves. When you've got 5 other cars all charging around haphazardly, races can get quite action packed and interesting to say the least.
Internet Multiplayer mode works quite well too. There's no openfeint support but other than that, it's fairly easy to get into an online game (but already players are exceptionally good so expect to be at the back of the pack a lot).
In full flow, it really is stunning to see everything from realistic skidmarks (ew) to destructible scenery in a game that’s so tiny and cute, but it’s all in there and it amazes me just how well it all works given how tiny the normal i-device screen is. There is the option to pay for the full fat iPad version though, if you’re one of those strange people who bought “the world’s most expensive etch-a-sketch”.
An utter bargain at £1.79, Reckless Racing is by far the best top down racer on the iPhone. It could probably do with a few more tracks and vehicles if Pixelbite ever decide to update it but as it stands it’ll give you plenty of thrills and spills for your money. I definitely look forward to seeing more from this talented bunch.