There's no million dollar prize when racing around the world from your armchair, but if you're a fan of the reality show The Amazing Race, chances are that you'll feel just a little bit richer when you play Ludia's iOS version of the game. A little bit. And only if you also like playing mini-games.
The CBS reality show has several seasons under its belt now, and continues to draw an audience. The competition is fierce and the interesting regular folk participating are often fun to watch, love, and even despise, as they face off in an array of weird and wonderful challenges in countries all over the globe -- all to an energizing soundtrack that is typical of everything done by Jerry Bruckheimer. You get a taste of all of the above, distilled down to mini-games designed to test your memory, critical thinking, and hand-eye coordination.
There are a few different play modes, including Quick Play, which allows you to select from several mini-games, as well as Adventure and Versus. Both of the latter can be broken down into a Tour, Journey, and Race, which are five, nine and 11 legs, respectively. Each leg takes you through the same pattern, which echoes the TV show: Get some travel money, use it to travel to a new area (this is a game in itself), play two of the mini-games designed to emulate the Roadblock, and Detour games of The Amazing Race, and get to the Pit Stop. At the end of each game, you are shown the rankings and your team's place in them -- if you come in last at the Pit Stop, just as Phil says, " You may be eliminated." Once eliminated, the game is over, even if it is just the end of the first leg of the race.
There are 10 different teams you can choose from when you create your profile: Soldiers, Athletes, Goths, Ranchers, Students, Hippies, Actors, Fans, Parents, and Rockers. You can even create your own name for your team, which makes the experience just a little bit more authentic. There are cute little animated avatars of your team of two that definitely suit one of the listed types. When playing in Versus mode, you can face off against your split personality, or a friend, with each of you choosing a team and then passing the iOS device back and forth to take turns.
The mini-games are fairly straightforward, and often too easy. They include match games, spotting games, reflex games and more. Outside of the transportation segments, there are a about 14 games that will be your Detours and Roadblocks. The Amazing Race provides easy, on-screen instruction prior to each game, which is nice, at first, but extremely annoying as the game goes on and you are continually told how to do things like catch a train or a bus.
Graphics in The Amazing Race are a mixed bag. The 3D models of teams are okay for the most part -- even cute -- but the one of poor Phil Keoghan, the game's host, is actually a little frightening. Thankfully, that model only pops up every once in a while. The rest of the graphics are actually quite nice, and the game is complimented by visuals of prominent landmarks in cities you visit. These can be found again later, in your Race Journal, and are accompanied by short blurbs of information about the landmark.
The audio is mostly a mellowed version of the TV theme song that is set on a loop, which works fine, and adds to the atmosphere. Phil's voice pops up at key moments throughout the game, as well.
The Amazing Race for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch is a fair, mini-game focused, representation of the reality TV show, but it lacks the fast-pace of its real world counterpart. The games are a bit too simplistic, and the constant barrage of intro screens before each one can get more than a little annoying. That said, if you like the occasional mini-game, or are a fan of the show, you might get a kick out of this title. All of the elements of the show are there, including some beautiful shots of locales you visit around the world, and the voice of and horrific 3D version of the game's host, Phil Keoghan. At the current (and introductory) price of $2.99, you could definitely do a lot worse.