The iPhone has no shortage of great racing games, such as the excellent Firemint Real Racing, Need for Speed and Asphalt. All of these titles have pushed the bar for graphics on the iPhone, but none have been as in-depth as console racing giants like Forza or Grand Turismo. I wasn't sure an iPhone racer would ever go that far, but after my hands on with GT Racing Motor Academy I've changed my mind.
GT Racing Motor Academy is said to be the first true simulation racing game for the iPhone. Speaking with the game's producer I realised the team behind this project had a real passion for the genre. Having played Real Racing and Asphalt, they want this game to set the bar for future racing titles on the iPhone. Perhaps a bold goal, but not when your game has 100 licensed cars all approved by 24 different manufacturers. This looks to be the richest racing game in terms of content that the iPhone has ever seen.
So what can we expect from this list of 100 cars? Well of course you can't have a racer without the latest super cars like the brand new Ferrari F458 Italia, but you can also expect some old classics like the Shelby GT 500 and even the Ford Model 10. The game features 10 tracks including rally, urban and licensed circuits like California's Laguna Seca raceway.
As well as an in-depth roster of detailed cars, GT Racing Motor Academy's developers have put as much time into the control and handling of each vehicle. Although all the gameplay I saw featured only automatic cars, you must use both the accelerator and the brake wisely to make it through any track with any dignity. If an intense racing sim isn't your cup of tea Gameloft has included a driving assistance option - simply move a slider in the options menu to set how much help you need and the game will ease up accordingly.
To progress through GT Racing Motor Academy you must purchase cars by earning licenses to use more powerful cars and win bigger races. Each license test is like a tutorial of sorts. When earning your C-class license you're learning the basics, but when you hit S-class you'll need to utilise more advanced techniques. The more you start to understand the differences between cars the more you'll start to tinker with each car's multitude of customisable parts.
When you're not playing through career mode you'll be able to play arcade mode and time trials against ghost drivers, and there was even talk of elimination races. You can also go head to head with your friends, with up to six players on the 3G and 10 on the 3GS. There is still a lot of work to be done on GT Racing, but it looks like it could overtake its opponents.
GT Racing Motor Academy is due for release on the App Store in early 2010.