I recently got the game Ground Effect, and it’s one of the most interesting and fun racing games that I have ever played. Obviously the point of the game is to race other vehicles, but it has a twist that I have never seen in any racing game; the inspiration, title, and core idea of this game came from ekranoplans or Ground Effect Vehicles (GEVs), which are vehicles that can operate over both land and sea. After playing the game for awhile, I firmly believe that Ground Effect is truly an astounding game and deserves to be commended, but there are areas in which it can improve.
Controls: No matter how great a game is, if the controls don’t work then the game doesn’t work either. Ground Effect nails down a solid tilt control scheme, with a secondary option for an on-screen control pad. The tilt controls felt very fluid and natural, and I found myself using them a whole lot more than the control pad.
However, for people who loathe tilt controls, Ground Effect’s secondary scheme is also a worthy alternative. You drag left to go left and right to go right. The sensitivity of the control pad is perfect; you nudge it slightly left or right and your craft will respond. I had no issues whatsoever with Ground Effect’s control schemes.
In addition, the auto-acceleration in Ground Effect is a nice touch; it would have been an inconvenience to have to hold an on-screen button the whole time. There are two on-screen pedals; one to brake with and one that gives your craft a speed boost. The duration of the speed boost depends on how much of the boost bar is filled. The bar recharges and depletes quickly, so you cannot spam the boost button nor can you ignore it; it’s the only way to overtake opposing vehicles quickly
Gameplay: Ground Effect’s gameplay doesn’t have anything substantial; it’s more of a casual game. Don’t that fool you though, Ground Effect is still amazingly fun and you’ll be trying time and again to get 1st place in all of the races.
Graphics: The graphics in Ground Effect aren’t astonishing or groundbreaking, but there’s something breathtaking about watching your vehicle glide over land and water. You’ll never get tired of watching your GEV majestically speed across the surface of the environments, and when you crash against something the resulting explosion is also well animated and implemented.
Game Objectives: Your sole objective in Ground Effect is to try to get 3rd place or higher to advance, or racing a ghost of yourself and trying to beat it. I’d like to see more things to do, such as being able to make other vehicles crash, power-ups, etc. If Ground Effect put in some mission aspects like Gameloft’s Asphalt 5, coupled with a few power-ups a la Mario Kart style, then it could potentially be one of the best games on the App Store.
Craft Selection: There are ten available vehicles for you to select, but the only difference between them is their look. Instead, the vehicles should all have advantages and disadvantages to why you should choose them. Some vehicles should be locked at the beginning of the game, and only getting 1st place on a certain track or finishing a course in a certain time should unlock them. Having ten GEVs that only differ in color is nice, but they should differ in other areas as well.
Overall, Ground Effect is a solid arcade racing game with great controls. The game might appeal to casual gamers more, since there aren’t many objectives and your only goal is to get 3rd place or higher. On the other hand, if you’re interested in arcade racers at all, Ground Effect is definitely worth buying. The ekranoplans and revolutionary land-water racing will leave you wanting to play the game over and over again.
Ground Effect was developed by Glenn Corpes, and I played through version 1.0 of the game on an iPod Touch 2G. The game costs $2.99.