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iPhone racing: Asphalt 5 revs up Internet competition

Good news, race fans: One of the most popular iPhone racing games just got an online-multiplayer overhaul. Put the pedal to the metal against five human opponents.

There's a reason you always see coin-op racing games lined up two, four, or even eight in a row: It's a lot more fun to race against live humans than AI opponents.

Unfortunately, only a handful of otherwise excellent iPhone racing games offer multiplayer modes. And most of those limit you to local competition via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi--only a couple offer online multiplayer.

I'm happy to report that Asphalt 5--sequel to the mega-popular Asphalt 4: Elite Racing--has joined the ranks of online-multiplayer racing games.

It's a good thing, too, because the Asphalt series suffers from a problem I have with many racing games: once you fall behind the AI drivers, it's nearly impossible to catch up.

But human opponents are just as error-prone as you are, so the competition feels fair and, most importantly, real.

After signing up for a free Gameloft account (which you can do in-game), I hopped into an online race and was quickly matched up with five other drivers. One dropped out mid-race (jerk), but the game didn't skip a beat.

And it was a blast. Asphalt 5 really is arcade racing at its finest, with jaw-dropping graphics, 30-plus glamorous real-world cars to drive, a dozen globe-spanning tracks, and eight different game modes.

Basically, if you liked Asphalt 4, you'll love Asphalt 5. And if you find that most racing games get old in a hurry, I think you'll agree that Internet multiplayer adds significantly more replay value.

While we're on the subject, check out these five awesome online-multiplayer games for the iPhone.