It’s really real – really.
As a fan of driving and racing games in general, I was more than interested to see what developers Firemonkey along with Electronic Arts would do next with the Real Racing franchise. The first two Real Racing titles were the games which many say proved that the iPhone, along with other phones and similar handheld devices, are more than capable of being used for playing games. The games showed us that these devices were more than capable of giving us fun to play, great looking and sounding games and all at a reasonable price, therefore putting even some high powered console racing games to shame.
So with two titles in the series already released, and the second one upping the ante so much, it was hard to see how it could be improved upon. Surprisingly though, it has been. The first major thing you will notice about Real Racing 3 is that when you visit the App store to purchase it, you won’t find in the paid apps section – instead you will find it in the free section. Yes, you heard me right, the game is free to download from the outset. Real Racing 3 is another game joining a growing list of titles which relies on micro-transactions to make a profit for the developers. Is taking this route a bad thing for the series?
Well, it really depends on the person playing the game. It’s more than possible to play and enjoy the game without spending a single penny of real life currency. The only real gain you get from spending money in the game is that your progress through the title is a lot quicker. Real racing 3 has two types of in-game currency – money and race tokens. Money is gained through winning races and tokens through leveling up your driver. At the start of the game you’re given enough money to buy a single car which you can take to the track in your first race, of which there are many. What you soon notice however, after one or two races, is that any damage to your car does not automatically repair. The next thing you will notice is that the damage your car sustains is not just cosmetic, it affects the performance and handling of your chosen car.
On top of this, certain aspects of your cars suffer wear and tear whilst they are driven – oil, suspension and tires all wear down over time as you drive and again as these wear down the performance of your cars drop. This is where things get interesting. To both repair and service parts of your car takes both money and time, kind of like real life. The biggest problem with this arises when you are early on in the game and you only have one car. After around three or four races you will find your car in need of servicing. Servicing your car can take anywhere between five and forty five minutes and this is in real time. As I said, when you only have the one car this can be a bit of a pain as after every few races you need to stop playing while repairs are carried out. You can of course quit out of the game and even have a push notification sent to you letting you know when your car is ready.
You can spend your earned race tokens to speed up the work being done on your vehicles so you can continue with your racing right away. The game uses the same mechanic when it comes to upgrading and tuning your cars. Your engines, transmission, brakes, tires and wheels can all be tuned and upgraded. Purchased using your race winnings, these then need to be installed, once again taking time during which you can’t race the car being worked on. For those not wishing to wait half an hour or so while their cars are worked on, it means using race tokens to speed the work up. These tokens are earned few and far between, so using them effectively means they must be purchased through aforementioned micro-transactions, and this is where the game will make it’s money.
Like I said earlier, it’s quite possible to play this game without spending any money, although the going may be a little slower at the outset. However, once you have one or two cars in the same class it’s easy to manage the time needed to repair and upgrade one car as you use the other. Granted, it’s always going to be easier going if you decide to take the other route and spend a little real life cash within the game. But it is more than playable either way, as I myself have proven having so far not spent a single penny on the game and yet find myself progressing through the game and having huge amounts of fun doing so.
The gameplay itself has not changed a whole lot from the previous games in the series, although it does feel a little smoother on the whole. From swiping through menus for finding events, to the actual driving itself everything feels right. You can have turning and braking assists turned on to make the driving a little easier for the more inexperienced player, although having these turned off gives you more control of your car. Your car from the start of most races automatically accelerates and continues to do so all the time, leaving you to deal with the braking and steering and, although this feels a little strange to someone used to playing many a racing game not having complete control over the acceleration, within minutes it becomes second nature and a lot of fun.
Presentation wise, considering the game is on iOS, the game is not just good, it’s astounding both in looks and sound. Sure it has been proven over the last few years that both iOS and android devices are more than capable of impressive graphics and gameplay. Real Racing 3 however pushes those limits and the end results are without a doubt one of, if not the current best looking game on these devices.
So what you have is a good looking, fun to play racing game which you can take with you right in your pocket, and to top it all off you can play for free. If you are a fan of racing games in general and own a smartphone, there is no reason at all not to download this game and have some fun.