Air Race Speed is a fast and fun way for you to test your space-fighter pilot skills like Luke Skywalker in the famous trench-run finale to the original Star Wars movie. You use the iPad’s motion sensor or on-screen controls to guide a series of faster and faster ships through tunnels, past obstacles, and around moving barriers.
Air Race Speed is a perfect combination of easy to pick up, but challenging to get good at. While the object of the game is immediately apparent, and the controls self-explanatory, getting higher speeds and therefore lower lap times takes skill, practice, and luck. As a beginner, you start with a slow but easy-to-control ship. Your mission is to guide your ship through a series of tunnels and around obstacles without crashing, and get the lowest possible time on each course. The ship is set to coast at a slow speed without any interaction from you. You speed up by firing your afterburners: the increase in speed is quick and significant. There are time penalties for crashing, so you need skill to get though the courses quickly, constantly measuring the trade-off between speed and control.
As you progress you earn points with which you can gain access to faster and more maneuverable ships.
While Air Race Speed provides on-screen buttons for steering, I found using the iPad’s motion sensors as a built-in control much more effective. There is no sensitivity control, but the steering is quite responsive without being twitchy. Using the Auto-Calibrate function in the Options tab helps with this. The afterburner button remains on the right side of the screen and is easy to use while steering. (Lefties can switch it to the other side of the screen.)
The visuals in Air Race Speed are excellent for an arcade-type game. While the graphics aren’t up to simulation quality, that’s not the point here. It’s easy to see where you’re going, and the barricades are clearly marked with yellow outlines: they’re easy to see, but hard to miss, especially at speed on the higher levels. While Air Race Speed is a purely visual challenge, the sound effects are a nice addition. When flying by a huge industrial fan, I could hear and almost feel the whirring of turbulent air. The accompanying music is synthetic and at first added to the experience although I eventually turned it off. Your mileage may vary.
I like Air Race Speed and find myself turning to it when I have 10–30 minutes to fill. It offers a fun way to spend a while and especially when you crash you’ll find yourself saying “just one more try.” It doesn’t suck you in like an immersive role-playing game, but it’s a fun arcade-style flyer, and well worth the $2.99 cost. Here’s the link to the app store.