Gameplay: 8 / 10
Graphics: 9 / 10
Replay Value: 6 / 10
Sound and Music: 7 / 10
After an earlier than expected release in some parts of the world, Real Racing 3 was officially released by EA on the 28th February 2013 for both Android and iOS. The original title was first released on iOS in 2009, where it achieved great success, while Real Racing 2 was ported to Android as well, was also an accomplishment for the Australian developers, Firemint (also known as Firemonkeys). Real Racing 3 continues to impress with improved graphics, a host of new cars, challenges and events, and authentic tracks, something missing from the first two games. Now for the really good news…it’s free.
There’s no doubting the Firement spent loads of time during development on minor details and graphics, as it’s safe to say it looks amazing. There is a ton of racing events, 900 in total, ranging from drag races to cup races with a 22-car grid. There are also 46 licenced vehicles to collect during the course of your racing, which may prove quite a tricky feat given the pricing model. Each week there will be a new featured vehicle for purchase at a discounted race, accompanied by an event for that vehicle. These deals, however, are for the well-advanced player, as the costs are still quite high. In certain cases, vehicles can only be purchased by means of gold coins, which is earned when completing racing events, along with some cash on the side. As an example, the Koenigsegg Agera R costs 800 gold coins, whereas 1,000 gold coins will set you back $99.99 in the store. Well it may seem an obtainable goal to collect 1,000 gold coins, you may want to think that strategy as, on average, racers are awarded 2 gold coins per race. Do the math! More on in-app purchases later in the review.
The Real Racing franchise has always been at the forefront of mobile gaming graphics, and its third title takes things to the next level, becoming the envy of every other developer out there. Even before hitting the track for the first time, I was amazed at the level of detail in every car, and thought this was simply the front-end, which cannot be matched during actual gameplay. I was wrong. To my surprise and delight, it was just as good. Considering that Real Racing 3 has a game data file totalling 1.7GB, which you will have to download, unfortunately, one shouldn’t have expected anything less. As a racing title, there is no other mobile game that can compete at this stage, both in terms of graphics and gameplay.
Note: As an alternative to downloading in-game, searching the Web for a zipped game data file for Real Racing 3 could save you around 1GB.
In terms of the controls and settings, there’s no big difference over that found in Real Racing 2. There are still a few options in controls allowing gamers to choose how they wish to control their vehicles. Firement also announced that the game would feature the revolutionary “Time-Shifted” multiplayer racing. What it entails is that there is no ‘live’ multiplayer racing; instead you compete against your invited friends based on their previous records set. This means I can complete a race today, while a friend could compete in the same race a month from now, while still racing against me (or my saved race, strictly speaking). In fact, in almost every race, you’re competing against similarly advanced racers, as well as standard AI, without selecting to do so. In the end, this means that there are the odd occasions you’re paired to an extremely good racer, and have absolutely no chance in competing against them.
Did I mention that it’s free? Well, there’s a catch. When EA first announced that Real Racing 3 would be free to play, I was ignorantly amused by the news, hoping for only a few in-app ads or unobtainable cars and tracks that may require unlocking. There’s an insane amount of in-app purchases, something seen in every facet of the game. During each race your car is exposed to damage, and even if you manage to avoid any collisions, it will still require servicing of its oil, tires, engine, suspension and brakes every so often. As mentioned previously, you earn both money and gold coins when competing in races, which you will now have to use to fix up or upgrade your vehicle. Once you’ve purchased an upgrade, performed a service, or purchased a new car altogether, there is a set time for which each takes to complete. Bypassing the waiting period costs different amounts of gold coins. Once you have used up all your coins, however, you have two options, either wait it out, or head over to the store to purchase more gold coins, 10 of which will set you back just under $2.
There’s no escaping the need for gold coins, as you’re bound to clamber into a few racers on your way to victory, for which your high is short lived, as you’re left with the prospect of waiting 30 minutes to service your car. There is a little trick to minimising your wait later in the game, but requires some discipline at the start. When repairing your car, use as little gold coins as needed, which means you will have to give the ‘mechanics’ some time to fix the car. Later in the game you would have accumulated sufficient coins to fix and buy without having to wait. It becomes even easier once you’ve purchased a second car, as you can race one while the other is being repaired.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot to offer from EA in their latest Real Racing title. The graphics are above any other competing titles, while the gameplay, original tracks and licenced vehicles add to the experience. Although the “freemium” revenue model may become cumbersome for many, avoiding the long waiting periods become easier to deal with as the game progresses, and, as such, shouldn’t detract from the overall experience too much. In the end, it’s still free, which is a huge bonus. If you own an Android or iOS device capable of running Real Racing 3 (and can source the game data files), there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t try it.