The Vita has a pair third party of racing titles available at launch -- F1 2011 for the sim crowd, and Asphalt Injection for arcade racers. I've been playing Asphalt, and while it offers a good amount of depth and fun, it's iOS/smartphone roots are obvious. About the only thing that didn't carry over is the low price.
Asphalt Injection isn't short on licensed cars, tracks, collectibles, or modes of racing, but no matter what vehicle you drive or what mode or level you are on, it all feels a bit too shallow and easy. This feels like a casual game meant for a casual audience. Given that it's more or less a port of a 99 cent iOS game, that shouldn't be too surprising. This is a purely pedal to the medal style racer with drifting and drafting mechanics, as well as plenty of nitro boosting. I prefer arcade racing to sim racing, but there's a point where a game can get too casual.
Racing against the CPU is decent fun, but it's not satisfying, so it doesn't really tend to stay fun for long. What I found out pretty much immediately is that the courses, most of them, are very wide open. You're able to hard drift around generous turns and basically keep accelerating right from start, without having to worry about braking much. There are several icons that you can pick up as you drive over them, including NOS boosts and dollar signs which yield cash to buy new cars. NOS is a must in this game to keep up with the pack; when your NOS level is full, you can go into an Adrenaline mode which is pretty sweet. While in Adrenaline, the screen darkens, headlights of oncoming vehicles becomes a lot easier to see, and you're basically zoned in. Whether in Adrenaline or just standard NOS, the sense of speed is pretty good.
Players start off with vehicles like the Tesla Roadster and Mini Cooper, but eventually can unlock about fifty other vehicles from popular makes such as Ferrari, Mercedes, and Lamborghini. I still have lots of cars left to unlock should I choose to, but I've noticed that despite the differing price tags and looks, these cars all feel very similar to one another. Granted, these are all sports cars, meant for speed and this isn't a Motorstorm game where you have a variety of vehicle-types, but the vehicles still seemed just a bit too similar. More variance comes in the fifteen different tracks included. Five variations of these tracks are also on the menu. Tracks take you across the globe, from LA to Monte Carlo, and do a nice job of mixing up the visual scenery. Overall track design isn't bad.
Asphalt Injection includes several modes of play, from basic exhibition races to online. I haven't had any luck finding online players just yet though. In terms of single player, the most robust mode is Career. This mode is the heart of the experience. Within Career, you can sample the different types of races and earn money to purchase new cars and parts. It's structured well enough but I don't see myself completing this mode as the racing just isn't great.
In terms of presentation, Asphalt Injection is decent, but a far cry from what the Vita can really do. Expect smooth framerates and some neat lighting, but a low polygon-count for the vehicles and so-so detail for the environments. I think the PSP could have readily handled these visuals, although I'm not technically sure. But that said, Asphalt Injection is not visually impressive on the Vita; it's competent, but it's not impressive. The audio is decent, but largely forgettable, too.
To the summary...