There seems to be some basic need for speed built into every human being, but unfortunately the closest most of us get to a racetrack is the morning commute. Racing games are a great way to let out that unfulfilled pedal flooring desire, and 6th Gear fills a largely uncontested gap in the smartphone game market. But will this game get your pulse racing or does it stall at the lights? Read on and find out!
The game comes in a standard installer, which didn�t take too long to do its thing.
As is fitting for a phone game you won�t be waiting long for the action, loading times are nice and quick. The title screen shows a spinning car with a moving checkered background. You get some nice rocky background music to introduce the game, so all in all a good first impression. The main menu has a myriad of options to choose for customising your race. Unusually a little mouse pointer shows which menu option is currently selected, which I�m not entirely convinced about, but it does the job.
Once you�ve chosen which car and track to race on its time to line up on the starting grid. There�s four different race modes to choose depending on your mood of the day. Practise mode lets you zoom around a track with no other traffic to worry about.
Arcade mode is the classic, and probably the one you�ll spend the most time on. You need to race around the track, with only a short amount of time to get to the next checkpoint and loads of sedate Sunday drivers to weave in and out of. If you fancy an opponent then try the one on one mode, or for a grand tour you can try circuit mode, which sees you racing on every track in turn, and continuing with shorter and shorter time restraints until you mess up. You can leave one of these games and come back to it, but the other game types are designed for a single sitting.
Ok, time to race. Your car will start in the middle of a nice 3d-ish track. Hit the accelerator and the car squeals off the start and quickly accelerates to some ludicrous speed. The graphics are good � they are somewhat reminiscent of the early arcade racers of yesteryear before all the fancy 3D models and scenery crept in. Its no match for the latest console or PC racers in terms of graphics technology, but is still nicely done. Cars and scenery are simple scaled sprites that loom up and disappear as you zip past them, and the background is a static graphic that scrolls around as you turn left and right. One nice touch though is the way the track humps and dips as you cross over hills and valleys, giving a bit of a sense of 3D. As this affects visibility you can easily ram into the back of some granny at the crest of a hill, so there�s a gameplay aspect to this too. The frame rate on the other hand is superb, you definitely feel like you�re going fast in this game! There are 5 different scenes to race on, and a choice of weather effects to throw in variety.
One very welcome addition are the vibration effects when you ram into someone or take a corner too fast. As you get a bit of wheelspin from a fast takeoff you�ll feel this right from the word go. Sounds effects are what you might expect� a lot of engine noises are you pile up the revs and a spoken �checkpoint� as you zip through a checkpoint.
But is this game any fun I hear you cry? Well, yes is the short answer. This isn�t going to go down as an all time legend, but it certainly does take a bit of skill dodging all the cars adhering to the so called �speed limit� without a major accident. If you crash you will take some damage and lose speed. Lose too much time and you wont make it to the next checkpoint in time� Similarly if you have too many bumps your car will break down completely� being towed is not the most glamorous way to finish a race. I�ve found the arcade mode to be my favourite. It�s easy to get into and not exactly complicated. The difficulty seems to be judged about right, and there are 3 skill levels to choose between. Its always satisfying to break your previous lap or course time too. The one on one mode is also reasonably challenging. Winning the race is quite difficult, but certainly do-able. It�s a shame there�s no proper �race mode� though � with 4 or more opponents. Practise is not much of a challenge so once you know how to drive you�ll soon move on from there. The final game type � circuit mode is good in a way, and can be saved and resumed later. Your cumulative time will be stored in the high score table, but I found it less fun that the arcade or one on one modes. Still I applaud the amount of choices you are given.
One thing you�ll want to do the moment you first play is change the default controls to something more sensible � using the joypad for steering AND acceleration/brake is an impossible way to play. Fortunately it is very easy to change the controls to something less insane. I have the left right control mapped to the 2 and 3 buttons, and accelerate is mapped to the 4 button. Of course like any good racer you�ll want to have the accelerator held down permanently, but for a token gesture I mapped the brake to the 7 key. With this key combo the game was very playable, but you are free to choose your own controls as you see fit.
like any good racer you�ll want to have the accelerator held down permanently
From the point of view of a phone game 6th Gear works out very well. Loading times are brief and the back and home buttons can be used for quickly suspending or resuming a game. Its also got that simple addictive gameplay that means you can just hand it to a friend for a quick blast of fun without having to spend a week explaining the objective, controls etc etc.
6th Gear is an arcade classic. It doesn�t pretend to offer the world�s greatest graphics, although the graphics are perfectly fine, and serve the game well. Nor does it expect to surprise you with its never-before-seen gameplay. What it does offer is arcade racing action at its finest. Unless your idea of a sensible speed is walking pace you should seriously consider this game. If you enjoy racing games then race out and buy 6th gear now.
Top quality racing action
Lots of game options
Cleverly crafted for the smartphone platform
Graphics aren�t really proper 3D
No race mode with lots of opponents.
6th Gear scores 7/10
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