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The speed freaks out there would definitely be attracted by the free price tag that Real Racing 3 comes with. After all, EA has wrapped this in a layer of goodness! But there is the inevitable catch - this game runs on the freemium method. Essentially, within the game, you could be shelling out cash for upgrades along the way, or take the longer route around. The graphics are excellent, and gameplay is immersive. Circuits and cars have good amount of detailing, and while such things would be more noticeable on the PC or console, different cars have their trademark handling characteristics. That may be enough to keep you hooked for some time, but we arenï¿½t sure if paying your way through the levels is enticing enough, or pure enough. Alternatively, you could test your patience, and take the longer route to success!
Whatever said and done, racing games on the iPad always looked, felt and played one level below the console titles. Graphics weren’t as good, gameplay felt kiddish at times and the smaller screen was used as an excuse for half-baked graphics. However, true to all the hype, Real Racing 3 takes care of all these problems. Having said that, we need to specify straight up that all is not perfect. With all the positives, there are the negatives. Read on to understand what we are talking about.
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Interface: Eye Candy
This is one of the brightest spots about Real Racing 3. The graphics are absolutely fantastic. Compared to the other titles vying for your money, RR3 does feel a lot closer to the graphics you would see on the console racing game titles. EA has put in a lot of effort in the way the game looks, right from the first screen to the visuals as you go racing. What has helped immensely is the licensing bit – with circuits like Silverstone now replicated as is. Equally, there are real world cars, and supercars, available by the dozen. The entire thing has been given a real feel – cars get damaged, have different handling characteristics and need repairs if you have been driving like a maniac! It all adds to that ‘close to the real thing’ experience.
Real Racing 3’s interface is rather neatly done, and while there tends to be a lot of information on one screen, the segregation of the data along with appealing visual elements make it a breeze to navigate. The challenges menu has events vertically listed out with clear headers, while the sub-events work horizontally. One thing that the UI falls short in is letting the player know what target he needs to achieve to unlock a particular event. I personally found that bit lacking, but if EA wanted the surprise element for that, it may just bore people to the extent that they leave.
Gameplay: A 50:50 experience
Building on the positives of Real Racing 3’s excellent graphics, the tracks that exist in the real world and realistic physics of cars, the experience of playing this game is undoubtedly superior to most other racing games. The driving experience is rather neat. You start off with the basic tier cars, and climb up the ladder as you progress. For those who are in it for fun, or don’t want the learning curve, driver assists for steering and slowing down in corners can be useful, but unlike some other games, don’t put you at a disadvantage. If you want to go down the inside of the guy in front of you at the next corner, you can pretty much do so without any problems. Car handling is fairly unique to each car in Real Racing 3. You can probably throw a hot hatchback around the corner by putting a bit too much rubber on the grass, but do that in a muscle car, and you will be spun around like a tumble drier. Acceleration seems to lag a bit in relation to the rivals off the line when Traction Control is activated, but the game gives you enough opportunity to come back at the guys ahead in the corners. The weird thing is that you start every race last on the grid! Even for the one to one challenges, you will start in second and last on the grid, and the rival will always start ahead.
Real Racing 3, like all its peers, needs you to win races and events to get in-game cash and reputation, which in turn lets you unlock better cars and upgrades. Here also there are two ways – you unlock some cars to run their dedicated events – cups, head to head challenges and even drag races, or buy one of the cars available in the franchise to race universally. Also, when you do buy a car, any car specific events are unlocked. Weirdly, you cannot sell cars you may have already purchased, so we suggest spending the cash carefully. The moment you get enough money, we suggest you upgrade your car, because as the levels go up, the difference between your car and the opponents’ cars becomes more and more. Not just cars, you will need to upgrade the components as well – engine, gearbox, brakes etc. The realism goes up the level that you periodically need to service the car as well! You may decide not to, but performance does suffer considerably.
Freemium Gaming: Patience, or a Lighter Wallet
Real Racing 3 works on the freemium model, which means there are a lot of in-game purchases. This is the only real drawback of what is an otherwise very good game. You essentially get two options to progress in the game. One is the traditional method of progressing by winning races, getting points and money, getting better cars – the works. But this is the long and painful and tiring method. Or, you could, at every step, pay to buy upgrades. Without having the patience to go through the levels, you can buy car packs and be done with it! Or you could purchase a wad of in-game currency or coins to pay your way through the levels. To be brutally honest, the usual method of taking the progress as it comes is a little longer in this game, and can really test your patience. Even for car repairs and upgrades, you have to physically wait for the task to be done in Real Racing 3, like you would at a real world service center if it were your actual car. Buying gold coins is a way of subverting that, and speeding stuff up. But if you do plan on waiting, the good thing is you can continue to play the game, with another car, or minimize the game and continue doing your stuff. The game will notify you once the service is complete.
Bottom Line: Must Play, for All Racing Fans
In relation to what Firemint did with the previous two editions of Real Racing, EA certainly has taken it a step ahead in terms of gameplay quality and how it looks on the screen. But, we aren’t very sure if the freemium method works for everybody. It takes away from the pure racing game experience, and many casual gamers would get turned off the moment it becomes a drag to go to the next level. We would have, honestly, preferred a one-time payment to buy the app, and the experience thereafter to be pure and unadulterated by alternative payment routes for everything.
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Compatibility: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi 3G, iPad (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi 4G, iPad (4th generation), iPad Wi-Fi Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini and iPad mini Wi-Fi Cellular. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.