It is always nice to play a game that was obviously created with passion and heart, and Final Freeway 2R for iPhone is one such game. I played the original Final Freeway, and found that, while it was an enthusiastic and fun game, it lacked polish and substance. Well, the sequel has fixed those problems, and feels like a far more professional game, yet still retaining that classic fan made, retro feel.
The game is essentially a mix of Out Run with elements of Chase HQ, so it is a 2.5D racing game, and a really good one. You take control of a Ferrari and must race across the country, selecting your route after each stage and attempting to finish before the timer runs down. When you either get to one of the three possible goals or run out of time, a distinctly Out Run style map show you the route you took and just how far you managed to get.
This isn’t a straight Out Run clone, however, as there is also a rival racer who will be harrying you throughout your race. He appears from behind you and usually tries to give you a shunt, and you get extra points for beating him to the end of each stage. It is a clever addition, as it proves pretty tricky trying to steer around traffic, avoid your rival, all the while attempting to keep the best racing line around the tougher corners. His arrival is also greeted with small graphic cutouts of him and your driver in the corners of the screen, which adds to the sense of drama around him.
Final Freeway 2R comes with a wealth of control options, but I found that having the digital steering wheel on the left, with accelerate and brake on the right, provided the most accurate response. There are a lot of configarable options, so you will need to play around wit all of them t get the best experience. The graphics are super sharp, realyly well drawn and designed, and not once during my playtime did I detect any kind of slowdown, even when going at full speed in the rain with loads of cars on the track.
The tracks themselves are really well designed, with plenty of incidental details in the terrain, and twisting and turning designs. A highlight are the section in tunnels, where you can see the lights of other cars in the darkness. You get to choose from three different drivers, each with different attributes, and can change the colour of your car.
The music is good, but not up to Out Run standards(but then, what is?), but the game handily lets you choose a track from your music library. A great trick here is to grab the Out Run soundtrack and put it on your iPhone, and bang, the game just got that little bit more authentic.
There is full Game Center integration with some nifty achievements that encourage you to beat your rival, and online leaderboards for all the difficulty levels. This is in addition to the cool looking local leaderboard that lets you select your initials, arcade style.
The game is pretty tricky, especially on the higher difficulty setting, but due to the nature of the game, the content is limited. It will take you a while to achieve all three finishes, and to see all the track sections, and it will take you even longer to beat your rival on all sections on expert level. After you have done that, the game is all about climbing those online leaderboards.
I have to say though, that the game has that rare quality of being fun, just to play. Yes, it is one of those rare gems that keep you coming back just for the exprerience, and for that it must be appluaded. I would love the developer to create a 2.5D racing game based around Lotus Turbo Challenge using this engine.
Overall, this game may not be for everyone. Those brought up on realistic games like Gran Turismo may see this as a bizarre throwback, but for those of us who know the joy of games like this, Final Freeway 2R is a treat. It may not be the deepest racer on iPhone, but like Retro Racing, it is fun and playable.