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Real Racing 3 for Android and iOS is the latest in a long list of racing games appearing in their respective market places. A sim racer at heart with a bit of arcade thrown in for good measure, the game’s graphics are top notch and the audio equally so. This is a game that racers will spend time on, moving through the progression, redoing races and earning cash along the way.
Developer Firemonkeys, the result of a merger between Firemint and Iron Monkey in 2012, are an in-house studio for EA interactive. Firemint, since its 1999 acquisition by EA, have produced a steady stream of mobile games for iOS, Android and other mobile platforms. Many of Firemint’s games are racing related so expectations are high for the sequel to Real Racing 2.
As a tilt control racer on the mobile market, there are still a myriad of additional control options ranging from tilt steering with an onscreen brake all the way to detailed left or right hand drive with brake and clutch. This many choices are a welcome boon to any player when combined with the racing assists to help keep the game as responsive as possible. In practical terms it means that players can control their car well even in motion, such as on a moving train or car, where switching out the tilt steering for a responsive on-screen steering wheel is advantageous. It also means you’re not shoulder checking the person next to you on the bus when you drift a turn.
The cars control well and it should be noted that across multiple brands, the cars all feel different. Steering is sharp and fast in cars that you expect to turn on a dime and achieve blistering speeds. North of 150 miles an hour is easily achievable with your first street spec car. That does not mean, however, that you can take every corner with impunity. Hitting a sandpit, a wall or another car deals damage to momentum and your car. This damage will not only cost you money, but acceleration, top speed and ultimately the race. Players who ignore the racing line will simply drive willy-nilly into the wall again and again in last place. Repair times do not run simultaneously; they stack, meaning a totally wrecked car could take upwards of an hour to repair.
The multiple points of view available also helps things move forward, as the sensation of speed and control is greatest inside the cockpit of the car. The engine noise, road noise and crash damage all transition well to the player’s audio and visual senses. There is nothing quite like rear ending a car and seeing your windshield spider web or your front bumper disintegrate. At least, nothing until you remember that going into corners too hard means your tires and brakes wear out fast. There is nothing like simulation racing to calculate how much money and real time maintenance your car requires at the end of each race.
The selection of vehicle brands and car models is limited to 46 cars, but includes a bevy of exotic supercars from automakers like Porsche, Pagani, Ford and Bugatti. Players will start with four run-of-the-mill street race spec vehicles while earning cash and gold coins for upgrades.
Collecting funds in this game is slow and unrewarding until later in the game. Players looking to buy all 46 vehicles are in for a rude awakening. Unless you are willing to pony up real cash, racing to save up digital funds the regular way is a lengthy process. There are alternatives for getting gold coins through Real Racing 3’s Twitter or Facebook page, but this is not a quick arcade racer. Racing fans will have to buckle down and stick with this game to get the real rewards.
Sadly, there are few customization options as far as colors and mechanical upgrades go. A few tiers worth of parts for the engine, drive train, brakes and tires is about all you’ll get. The paint colors are likewise standard, and cost gold coins rather than money. This, in concert with the freemium use option of using real money to buy in-game money, makes quick progression a problem and at times, tedious.
For example, you can repeat races, looking to improve scores and lap times, but some events, such as beating a certain speed limit on an oval, become too easy on the 20th play. To keep things fresh, players are encouraged to buy new cars, get new upgrades, and do the more than 900+ events in different cars and racing styles. This facet of the game is very enjoyable but also necessary to keep the gamers’ attention. Without the race and event variety, players would have been bored with an otherwise limited game.
The most important thing about Real Racing 3 though, is the Time Shift multiplayer. This function logs lap times and other statistics of actual human players, providing gamers with real player statistics to race against, albeit with a time delay. It is an interesting way of setting up players against real players, but this facet is largely ignored if your friends aren’t playing. With it on however, the game play takes on a competitive edge that is thrilling to experience.
Thankfully, EA and Firemonkeys have done a great job with Real Racing 3. The game features good racing physics and graphics despite the expected battery drain when playing. Lastly, the game is a racing sim in the truest sense of the word, requiring time and effort to progress. Impatient racers will spend real cash for in-game cash. But the only dime worth turning in this game is the one under your wheel as you blast by at 200 mph through the corners with a perfect oversteering drift turn.
Rated 4.5/5: Beating all other racers on the mobile market, Real Racing 3 is leagues ahead as far as controls and track variety goes. Fun factor and replay value is extremely high despite the limited number of cars and slow progression in an otherwise beautiful simulation racer. Real Racing 3 is the mobile race gamers have been waiting for.
Image courtesy: EA.com