Asphalt 7 for Windows 8 Review: The first cross-platform Windows racing game

Earlier this week, Gameloft announced they will bring their latest arcade racer Asphalt 8: Airborne to both Windows Phone and Windows 8. Phone owners have enjoyed its predecessor for quite some time now, but Microsoft’s tablet and PC operating system has gone without – until now.

Asphalt 7: Heat has just launched on Windows 8 and RT with full Xbox support. It includes some impressive features such as Xbox 360 controller support, glitchy Play/Pause/Resume connectivity and even cross-platform multiplayer with the Windows Phone 8 version! We’ve put the Windows 8 game through its paces in order to bring you this timely review.

One big racing game

Asphalt 7’s career mode consists of 13 tiers with 12 events each; that’s a whopping 156 events for players to race through. Those events come in quite a variety, such as traditional races against five opponents, arcade races against timer, elimination races in which the last racer gets knocked out of the race, and more.

Of those race types, I found knockdown races by far the most enjoyable. In knockdowns, you’ll have to literally knock your opponents out (temporarily) by smashing them into a wall or hitting them while in Adrenaline mode (this game’s advanced form of Nitro). Knocking an AI racer into the air and cruising on for new prey just never gets old.

Depending on how well you perform in each career race, you’ll earn up to three stars. Hitting star milestones unlocks new licensed cars and upgrades for purchase in the shop. Win or lose a race, you’ll always earn money to spend.

Completing single-player or online races and performing various actions like drifting also earns you rep. Rep is basically XP, as it contributes to leveling up. Reaching certain levels unlocks new cars to buy, but your level is mainly a way for other online players to see how far you’ve gotten in the game.

As if earning stars, money, and rep didn’t provide enough goals already, Asphalt 7 also has lots of optional missions to complete in single- or multiplayer. These goals give you something extra to shoot for during a race or series of races such as knocking down a certain number of opponents or drifting for a set distance. At any given time, you’ll have three missions to work on – just like in Jetpack Joyride. This game really keeps players busy!

Cloud racer

When I first downloaded and started playing Asphalt 7 on Windows 8, I figured I would need to take on the massive career mode all over again. Imagine my surprise when I signed into Xbox Live in-game and it informed me that I already had save data on the cloud. I didn’t even know it used cloud saving! Users can choose to download the existing cloud save or start with fresh data.

The cloud save restored my old career progress, level, money, and cars appeared on my Windows 8 system. Actually, the save recovered from the cloud was only on tier 11 of the campaign as opposed to my actual phone status of tier 13. But slightly old save or not, it still saved me hours and hours of time in the Windows 8 game.

The only question is: will progress from the Windows 8 game transfer back to Windows Phone as well? Unfortunately, on the phone I’ve hit that bug in which the game crashes after the title screen, so I can’t test it. The phone game is excellent but awfully buggy that way. It would be great if we could jump back and forth between both platforms at will. Until we do more testing though, it might be safer to assume the transfer is a one-way operation.

Crossing the platforms in multiplayer

Asphalt 7 was the first Windows Phone 8 game with true real-time online multiplayer, and now we can say the same about Windows 8 as well. As far as we know, Microsoft has never provided the libraries needed for online multiplayer on phone or tablet, leaving the work completely up to developers.

As such, the phone version of Asphalt 7 used Gameloft’s online service Gameloft Live for its multiplayer instead of Xbox Live. Subsequent games like UNO & Friends have switched over to Xbox Live, but Asphalt 7 still relies on Gameloft Live. Creating a Gameloft account isn’t much work though, and most Windows Phone 8 gamers probably already have one anyway.

This version’s multiplayer performs very well, with only the occasional dropped connection to mar the experience. You can join or host a game for up to six online racers, selecting the race type, track, and tier of cars. Car upgrades can’t be toggled off by the host however, meaning high level players have a significant advantage over low level players. And sadly, this version lacks any form of chat, just like the phone game.

The real treat with Asphalt 7’s multiplayer is that both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 players can race against each other! You needn’t do anything special. Any players can join any matchmaking game, with no differentiation between platforms. The new influx of Windows 8 players should breathe new life into the phone game; and the existing phone users provide a player base for new tablet and PC gamers to race with.

Windows 8 controls

Since Windows 8 runs on both tablets and PCs, it’s capable of supporting a variety of control options. Thankfully Asphalt 7 takes advantage of all the important ones: touch, mouse and keyboard, and Xbox 360 controller. You will need to select Control Scheme F from the Options in order to enable the control pad.

As you might expect, the controller offers the greatest degree of precision. Steering with a stick and accelerating, braking, or activating Nitro with buttons are all a snap. The controller acts as a virtual mouse pointer in the menus, which makes cup selection cumbersome in career, but otherwise it really improves an already fantastic game. It also functions as a preview of what Gameloft’s Windows Phone 8 games would be like if they worked with the MOGA Pro Controller.

Achievements

Since Asphalt 7 on Windows 8 is basically a direct port of the Windows Phone 8 game but with better graphics and more control options, it also has the same Achievement list. That means that reaching level 80, earning a total of twenty million dollars, and buying all cars and upgrades will be the most time consuming Achievements.

I feared that recovering my phone save data might cause Achievement difficulties. Thankfully it didn’t! After pulling my save from the cloud, all of the Achievements I earned on Windows Phone popped in the Windows 8 game as well. What a time saver! You could potentially get 400 GamerScore by playing both versions. Not bad given the total investment of three bucks for both games.

Overall Impression

It might be late in coming, but Asphalt 7 still impresses on Windows 8. The Surface RT runs at it a low but playable frame rate (probably about the same as a Lumia 920), but on beefier Windows 8 hardware the frame rate is perfectly fluid.

With a lengthy career mode, copious amounts of cars and upgrades to buy, and actual online multiplayer, Asphalt 7 also provides a tremendous value for an amazingly low price. Cloud saves and cross-platform multiplayer are just the icing on one delicious cake of a racing game. Don’t miss it.

Warning: according to reader reports, the game crashes on the Windows 8.1 preview. If you're running 8.1, be sure to download the trial and see how it does before purchasing.

  • Asphalt 7 – Windows 8 and RT – 0.99 GB - $1.99 – Store Link (opens in new tab)
  • Asphalt 7 – Windows Phone 8 – 512 MB – Store Link (QR tag below)

Thanks to Bilal Khan for letting us know about the release!

QR: Asphalt 7 WP8

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

108 Comments
  • Ready for next version
  • Great... Mine too crashes when lining up for the first race using Surface RT 8.1 Preview.
    Was looking forward to this one too...
  • Same here.
  • Found out how to fix it, change which control settings to use - Control A (Accelerometer) is the one that crashes on 8.1 . Hope that helps anybody!!!! :D
  • Do we *have* to import our saved games from WP8? Or can we get the game with the same Microsoft account and not merge the two games?
    'cause I love the game but honestly, I'm not that willing to pay 2€ for a game I already finished on WP8 just to see it already finished on RT =\
  • Microsoft does not support universal app purchases, if that's what you're asking.
  • Galactic reign did
  • But that's more of an exception than the rule. I was really hoping Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 would bring about a shared and common experience but nope. Apple, Google and Sony with the PS3 and Vita are all beating MS in an area they should be completely dominating.
  • I think he asks, that do we have to import the save file of WP8 version to W8 version :)
  • No, no. I know that. I was asking if, when buying this on a RT, they would force the WP8 achievements into the RT version or if I can keep them separate (meaning, starting the game fresh on RT and have 20 more achievements to get)
  • No, you don't have to.
  • Holy crap this is awesome. So glad to see Gameloft games on Windows 8. I hope they publish everything across Xbox One, WP8, and Windows 8.
  • Cross platform racing... CPR anyone? 
  • I bought both versions, and the progress was able to sync between the two versions. Have to load my profile every time if I change to phone or PC. And if the control is set on keyboard on PC and you switch to phone, the control becomes undefined, so have to set the control again before playing.
  • i hope nobody is playing this on 22" screen
  • Why not?
  • There are pc games with much better graphics and gameplay.
  • This is cheap and has Xbox integration with Windows Phone.
  • Playing on a 43" just fine...
  • Downloading for my 7 year old son on a 23 inch screen, despite him having access to ps3 and xbox 360. Its a great game, and he wont be touching my phone.
  • I am, and am loving it! OK, well a 20" screen. Hehe.. The graphics and gameplay with an XInput controller (Logitech F310) is surprisingly impressive.  To me, without question as fun as racing on a console.  In time we're probably going to see less and less of a gap in depth/quality between these poly-platform games and dedicated mobile/console games.
  • That means that if its the first cross platform WP game then its also the first cross platform game for IOS, and Android, on all three platforms...
  • Are you sure the iOS and Android versions can play with the Windows versions? I didn't think they could.
  • I'm tripping.. I'm thinking you're talking about cross platform like between Mobil OS's..
  • Pffff don't work with atom...
  • Incorrect.
  • He's right, doesn't work on my W510.
  • starts then returns to start screen Asus vivotab smart could cry ....
  • If I start the PC version first and get 200gs, will I then get all the achievements on the phone when I play it later on?
  • Yes
  • This is what I have been doing. Get achievement on PC, open phone version and sync profile. Exit the game, load the game again and you get the achievement.
  • Asphalt 8 wont be live enabled.
  • Why wouldn't it?
  • Windows phone YouTube site via internet explorer 10.
    SORRY WE CAN'T PLAY THIS FILE ON YOUR PHONE.
    error code 80072efe
  • Windows phone YouTube site via internet explorer 10.
    SORRY WE CAN'T PLAY THIS FILE ON YOUR PHONE.
    error code 80072efe
  • Crashing on my surface RT (8.1 preview) anyone with success?
  • Works fine on Windows 8.1 preview here.
  • Yup, crashes on mine too when lining up for the first race.
  • Works fine on my 8.1 Surface. The install process too quite long, about 10 minutes but the game runs fine. Even the syncing between the RT and my L1020 worked fine
  • crash too~~and can't sycn my data
  • <
  • Mine not working as well. Same thing. Crashes after the animations of a race before the actual race starts.
  • Ditto.  Crashed as soon as the race was about to start.
  • Just Purchased and Installed the game on Windows 8 PC... No Music/Sound.. Anyone facing the same issue..??  Any suggestions to fix it..   :(
  • Mine as well, though it's Win 8.1 Preview. No sounds. Controller support is kinda half-ass, especially menu navigation!
  • Same problem. Played this a lot on my iPhone, but it is weird without sound on my HP Envy Spectre Ultrabook. No tech support either, so I'm not thrilled. 
  • See, this is exactly what I though Microsoft would do with its halo game for wp8 and windows 8 and they failed to do so. And here comes gameloft and sort of nails it with asphalt 7.
  • What do you mean? This is not even close to Halo Spartan Assault.
  • I think he is referring to the online multiplayer feature.
  • May be good for the RT or an Atom based PC, but for most PCs as far as racing games go it just can't compete with Real PC games.