Review: Real Racing 3

EA have come in for a lot of stick with their move to Freemium on mobile and integrated microtransactions in console games.  Real Racing 3 is the latest title to go freemium, but does it hurt the game or is it still top of the smartphone racers?

Having now spent many hours with the game on Android (Nexus 7) and iOS (iPhone and iPad) I still haven’t completely made up my mind over the freemium integration within Firemonkey’s new game, but I do have a good idea whether the game itself is any good.

The short answer is; yes, the game is a solid racer and yes, the freemium and IAP model does have an impact on how much fun the game provides, but this doesn’t really become apparent until quite far into the game.


Real Racing 3

From the outset there is one thing that stands out about Real Racing 3 and that’s the level of detail in the graphics. Now that real cars are modelled and race on real life tracks, the importance in getting these things looking right is paramount, lest the petrolheads point out their mistakes.  It’s here that Firemonkeys have obviously done a lot of work and comparing this to the last game shows the improvements to the graphics and physics engines have paid off.

The gameplay is a simple journey through ever increasingly powerful cars that will build up your skills as you progress.  Races are pleasingly varied, from the standard gold, silver and bronze style race and elimitation to drag races where every gear change is important and endurance racing where an ever-ticking clock counts down while you try to get more miles behind the wheel.  The races are all split into sections with 3 or 4 cups in each section needed to open up the next.  These sections are then further divided in to classes with new cars required to race in a new class.


You do have the option of skipping ahead to the next class if you have enough in game money to buy a car in that class or fancy shelling out real world money, otherwise it’s just a case of getting on with the racing and repeating a few tracks until you’ve managed to save up enough to buy that shiny supercar you have your eye on.

Real Racing 3

Sometimes, the continued replaying of races just to earn more cash can feel like a grind, at times it is, but at least there’s no real barrier to using in-game money in place of real cash.  However, there are issues which have arisen from the decisions to use In App Payements (IAPs).  Firemonkeys have designed the game so that damage is caused on track for even the smallest scrape and getting around a circuit without any damage is nigh on impossible.  This has to be paid for or your car won’t run properly.
In addition, oil, tyres and other elements will require servicing at times, which require time or a payment of the second in-game currency; Gold.  Gold is far harder to come by.  It gets handed out when you level up, but further through the game this becomes fairly difficult.  Servicing then requires plenty of patience or the use of a second car, which can be run while you wait for your first car to be serviced.  Car packs can also be bought from the shop, which will solve this issue…for cash.
Real Racing 3
Aside from the spectre of IAPs, the handling and playability can’t really be faulted.  Playing on an iPhone or even on the Nexus 7 the game felt perfectly balanced using tilt for steering.  All assists like automatic breaking are turned on by default, but turning all of these off gives the game a more open feel and really lets you test your skills round the track.  If anything, the threat of paying for damage adds an extra incentive for good driving and overtaking.
Multiplayer is sadly lacking in Real Racing 3, replaced with a half-way house system that promises to allow you to race against the ghost cars of your friends, but really only seems to collect their lap times rather than their actual laps.  It’s better than nothing, but still feels like a missed opportunity.
So there you have it; Real Racing 3 is a mixed bag of great racing, lovely graphics and a slightly disappointing pay to play system hidden behind it.  Some gamers will be able to ignore the IAPs and those that do are still in for a solid racer, but it feels a little like the series is driving in the wrong direction to me.

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