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Monday, October 10, 2011
Back in 2009 a clever little casual racing game called DrawRace appeared on iPhone and iPod Touch courtesy of Finnish developer RedLynx.
It took a little while for the game to really take off but thanks in part to a review from me (I like to think it helped anyway) DrawRace went on to become a huge success in the App Store.
It was a proud moment in my game reviewing history to be quoted on the App Store page of this top-selling game as DrawRace became one of the early classics on iOS. It was certainly one of my favourite games, which I sunk a lot of time into.
What made it a success was how it took the line-drawing mechanic made popular in Flight Control and put it into a racing environment. Such a simple concept but very smart and very well executed.
The combination of line-drawing and racing proved to be very addictive. Shaving precious tenths of seconds off lap times became an obsession, at least for me and I’m sure for many other players too.
Formats: iPhone and iPod Touch (HD version available for iPad)
Verdict: 9 out of 10 – A bigger, better and more polished game than the original but stays faithful to the original successful format.
One of the few disappointing aspects of the game was the lack of updates it received after its release. I felt that as good as it was, the game never quite fulfilled its true potential due to a lack of extra tracks and features being introduced.
While RedLynx seemed to let the original game wither somewhat, the developer has stormed back with a full sequel which is even bigger and better than the first.
By bigger, I mean literally bigger - the download for DrawRace 2 is about 10 times larger than the original.
So what do you get for hundreds of extra megabytes? Well, you get a lot more game for starters. This time there are 36 tracks instead of 20, with more than 180 challenges to complete, from straight-out races to skill tests requiring accuracy as well as speed.
There are also various types of cars this time, from rally and stock cars to single-seater race cars.
The biggest difference this time, and the reason for the bigger file size, is the improvement to how the game looks. Everything has been taken up several levels.
Tracks are still seen from a top-down view, but are now in 3D with much more detail on textures, cars and scenery. Menus are more polished than before. The style makeover means DrawRace has lost some of the simple retro charm it had in abundance in the first game, but overall the improved visuals are impressive.
Sounds are better too. The different cars are accompanied by authentic engine noises.
While DrawRace’s appearance has evolved, the touch-based racing is basically the same way as in the first game.
Here’s how it works.
You put your finger on the starting grid of the track and draw a line around the circuit to complete the required number of laps.
The game switches to race mode and either one, two or three opponent cars join yours on the track. The only control you have at this point is a boost button which you can use for an added spurt of speed. Apart from this, all you can do is watch.
The race begins and your car follows the exact line your finger previously drew. If you are successful you will finish in first place ahead of the rival cars also driving around.
You might think it’s tempting to move your finger as fast as possible when drawing your line, but you’d be wrong. Not only does your car follow your line, it also follows the speed at which you drew it. The physics in the game are the same as any racing game, whereby if you take a corner too quickly or pick a racing line that’s too tight your car will spin off. So, when drawing your line you have to be aware of speed and angle - draw slowly to get around bends and speed up when it’s safe to do so.
Cars handle differently from each other and different track surfaces also affect handling.
In some ways DrawRace is a puzzle game. Ultimately it comes down to which car is fastest, but to be quickest you must solve the riddle of finding the best route. Sometimes taking a longer way around a section of track will pay off in your overall lap time.
It can be frustrating when you continually fail to beat a particular track but DrawRace is a game which gets you hooked once you’ve started playing, and so you’ll keep happily trying until you finally crack it.
It’s an enjoyable challenge to watch the car going around a track and work out where improvements can be made in your next attempt.
As well as having a vast amount of single-player content, DrawRace 2 also offers several choices for playing against other people.
You can choose pass-and-play or you can go online for friend challenges to see who’s fastest or you can compete in a league against players from around the world.
My one real gripe with DrawRace 2 is the social elements. There are leaderboards accessible via Crystal, which is probably my least favourite of the iOS social platforms.
There are global, national and local rankings, and it’s great to compare race times against other people. Unfortunately it’s very hard to find exactly where you are on the rankings without going through pages of results. Also, the local rankings do not seem to be working properly.
Hopefully these minor but irritating issues can be sorted out in a future update.
When the first DrawRace came along it was both original and innovative. While the sequel isn’t much of a surprise package it is still another winning game because it does what any good sequel needs to do - stay true to the original format which so many people loved and take it forward at the same time.
It’s another heap of simple and addictive fun which is one of the best in both line-drawing and racing games for iOS.