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Real Racing 3

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Free, two, one... go!

Product: Real Racing 3 | Developer: Firemonkeys | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Real Racing 3 iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

It's fair to say that gamers have been less than enthusiastic about Real Racing 3's freemium payment model.

The hardcore was up in arms before the game was out, disgusted that the premiere iOS racer would be taking the FarmVille route, which was destined to suck the fun out of the game like a mirth-hating vacuum.

Were these concerns well-founded? I've been in Real Racing 3's cockpit for the last week, and now that I've crossed the finishing line I'm climbing onto my podium to deliver the definitive verdict.

First impressions

Let's get the other big talking point about Real Racing 3 out of the way first: it looks phenomenal. I'm playing it on my iPhone 4S and it runs incredibly quickly.

There's a little slowdown from time to time when the track is heaving with cars, and you're at full pelt, and you're viewing the action from the full cockpit camera, but otherwise it's slicker than an oil spill.

IAPs explained
There are two types of currency: R$, which you'll win every race; and Gold, which is much more finite to obtain for free and is given out for advancing a Driver Level.

Gold speeds up actions in the game and can be used to purchase a very limited number of cars. Free Gold can be obtained by levelling or signing up for trials of other services. Alternatively, you can purchase it, with 10 Gold costing a hefty £1.49.

R$ are used on everything from repairs, to upgrades, to new cars. R$50,000 are yours for £1.49, and that's about enough to buy a low-end car.

Your best option is to buy one of the Packs on offer, as these represent great value for your money - coming with extra cars and Gold.
The fidelity of the vehicles is second-to-none, and the tracks are intricately detailed. There's a little of the clinical sterility that you find in the Gran Turismo series, but Laguna Seca looks like Laguna Seca, and that's what you want from a realistic driving game.

The menu design manages to cram in a lot of information without being overwhelming. Your jumping-off point displays all the series that are open to you, the car you last raced in and its status, along with your active friends, Driver Level, and finances.

You can do absolutely everything you would want to do in Real Racing 3 from here, and it's an elegant way in to a seemingly very deep game.

Getting into my first few races - taking all the assists off, naturally - it controls just as well as its predecessor, if not better, with a choice of touchscreen inputs, tilt control, or a combination of both. If you've never played an iOS racer then you may have a slight learning curve to conquer, but otherwise it feels responsive and precise.

Day 3: MultipLIEr

Firemonkeys has sort of fibbed about the Time Shifted Multiplayer. If you haven't kept up with our coverage, TSM was pitched as a halfway house between full online multiplayer with real opponents and time trials against ghosts. You're meant to feel as though you're racing against real-life opponents, who just might be your real-life mates.

Real Racing 3 doesn't do a good job of convincing you of this. I've made a powerful enemy in fellow journalist Jeff Scott. I like to talk trash about how I'm going to destroy his lap times, but he never makes a mistake on the track. Now I know Jeff's a good driver (he's better than I am, certainly), but he's not that good, and he also wouldn't avoid flooring it on a long straight.

What the game is doing is approximating a lap based simply on the time you clocked. It neglects to reproduce important details like how aggressively you took each corner.

TSM is a great social hook to encourage competition, then, but it's not the revolutionary multiplayer mode from a technical perspective that the developer would like you to believe it is, because your replicated human opponents still feel like, well, replicants.

Nevertheless, thanks to the names and times of my friends appearing as I race I don't think I've ever felt more more determined to win in a driving game. Ever.

Thanks to an increased level of difficulty over Real Racing 2 - largely owing to a more realistic driving model - each victory is hard won, amplifying the tension of each race. In other racing games, I'd be annoyed if I didn't finish first on a course. With Real Racing 3 I've quite literally jumped for joy at coming fifth.

Fifth gave me a load of currency to upgrade my vehicle, more experience to build my Driver Level, and I beat all of my other nemeses, including Mr Scott and PG's deputy editor Mark Brown. Whatever the game mode I'm playing, if I finish in a respectable position, I'm happy, and the fact that I don't always finish in the top spot creates a better sense of racing for real.

The aforementioned upgrades are numerous, but always appreciable in their effect on the vehicle. The next part you add will always be better than the last, visually demonstrated by bars showing your speed, acceleration, grip, and so on.

Day 7: Qualifying position

If you're complaining about Real Racing 3 going free to play, you really ought to experience it for yourself, but in the meantime hopefully I can address some of your concerns in this review.

The most significant gripe among gamers so far is that you have to wait for repairs and services to be made to your vehicle, or pay a fee to speed the process up.

If your car is being repaired you can't drive it, but the countdown timer only applies to that particular car. You can still drive the others. This means that you can sidestep the waiting issue in five easy steps:

Step 1: Open the game.
Step 2: Tap on the Store button.
Step 3: Go to Packs.
Step 4: Spend a total of £4.49 (50p less than Real Racing 2's full price) on Street Spec Booster Pack and Supercar Booster Pack, giving you two more cars.
Step 5: When one car is totally battered, put it in the shop for repairs and race with one of the other two.

Of course, in that case you're paying for a game in which it's necessary to tolerate the inconvenience of changing cars every so often, but in practice it won't affect your enjoyment significantly. If both racing in the same car and never having to wait between races are important to you, however, then it's probably time to accept that Real Racing 3's new freemium model just isn't for you - but you'll be missing out.

Real Racing 2 earned an insuperable Platinum Award from Pocket Gamer back in 2010, so you may be wondering why we haven't given this hotly awaited sequel the same score.

Real Racing 3 certainly pushes the racing genre forward on mobile significantly: it's technically astounding, each race feels like it matters, and the social hooks that are in here keep you playing for the long haul. Hell, even the soundtrack is great.

But the absence of true online multiplayer is too significant for Real Racing 3 to merit the mighty Platinum Award. I'm collecting cars, upgrading them, competing with my friends' times, becoming the best - and I want to be able to show all this off in direct competition.

Real Racing 2
had true multiplayer, and its absence here is impossible to ignore. A chunk of the Real Racing experience is missing.

In every other way, Real Racing 3 sets a new standard for what can be achieved in racing games on mobile. It's undoubtedly the most beautiful and realistic racer yet, it's captivating to play, and it's a remarkable achievement in game design.

That's our take, but what about yours? Let us know in the comments below.
Real Racing 3
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 28 February 2013
Expansive, gorgeous, hardcore, free: Real Racing 3 sets the new standard on mobile for racing games
Rate this game >> Average reader score: 
Have Your Say
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Feb 2014
Post count:
@rncry | 10:49 - 8 August 2014
It kinda sucks... paywalls, wait timers, and the physics is pretty lame: it's basically just 'how fast can I go around the corner without skidding out', better cars can just go a bit quicker. There's no subtlety to it like in 2k Drive or GT Racing 2. Avoid.
Aug 2014
Post count:
scottttttttt | 21:08 - 7 August 2014
Played this game for over a year now. Spent more than my share of 'micro transactions' (whatever the heck that is) in real dollars. Been a loyal promoter of the game, but then a few weeks back, Firemonkeys changed the rules. There was a level that if you made it to, that you could actually accumulate enough gold to buy a top car or make a top upgrade...though still needed to play about an hour per 50 gold. Not an insignificant amount of time considering the car values I'm talking about are in the 400-900 gold coins and upgrades in the hundreds.
Firemonkeys didn't like this new reality that THEY created and we played, so they cheated. Changed the rules in the middle of the game so it is now virtually impossible to get close to finishing the last few levels without spending hundreds of dollars in real money, or playing for hundreds of hours.
So, quit while you are ahead. Enjoy the game up to the point where you need to spend only gold coins on cars or upgrades and then ditch it. Time to move on. You'll never complete it, so don't bother. Firemonkeys doesn't care about their customers, so this customer for one will avoid anything produced by Firemonkeys.
Mar 2014
Post count:
Brunny | 22:42 - 16 March 2014
Did you post this in the wrong section?

I guess I can take it that most of what you are saying applies to the Android version but you mentioned you were playing it on your iphone 4s and the video also is of the iphone version.
Aug 2013
Post count:
Harry Styles | 18:23 - 21 August 2013
This sort of game analysis has really been helping me makes an opinion about games am interested in and I really recommend you guys to keep it up. Real Racing 3 is a great follow up and its innovative multiplayer mode is a definite plus to the title
Jul 2013
Post count:
Eddie Murphy | 18:52 - 12 July 2013
I like RR3. I think the concept is interesting. However, I am more of a NASCAR Buff. I would like to see tracks like Daytona or Talladega (near my home). The latest update in my opinion hurt the game as far as managing repairs. Some repairs all the cars to be functionional if not undone which saved money. Also, I would like to be able to sell a car to buy my next one. Just my thoughts.......
Jul 2013
Post count:
Gp1978 | 03:18 - 9 July 2013
Game was fun until the last update. The PR requirement to have access to some events is just a waste of your hard earned R$, if you are a decent driver and can win races without the upgrades there is no reason to force you to it unless the developers want you to keep playing forever to get the money for the high end cars.
Jun 2013
Post count:
Peter Luca | 01:26 - 22 June 2013
I am level 41, have I think 13 cars and spent no real money and I am completely happy with the way it is, I believe there is nothing wrong with the way producers have decided to go with RR3, if you want to enjoy the game with all what it offers start from bottom and work your way all the way up, yes it takes a lot of time /in my case 27hours so far/ but there is no hurry. And if you want a good looking pagani straight away go and buy one with your real money but unless you are already a pro I promise you that 90 percent of you who just want the best too early will drive that car off road most of the time and you will be loosing the race anyway. For me RR3 is the best racing I have ever tried on any mobile device, only thing what I miss in this game is time trial or ghost where you can compete against your personal best in cars category and yes it is pain to start from last place on grid... amen
May 2013
Post count:
Erik Skytt | 15:57 - 20 May 2013
This game doesn't deserve a 9. More like a 4-5 jut cause its the best racing game so far. And if it wasn't for the IAPs i wiuld probably play MUCH more. Now i just play a race or two and then when is time to service i consider it "loading time" and simply exit the app. Im not spending a dime in game and it works fine. The only effect EA's stupid greediness amounts up to for me is that i as a consumer choose to play their game less. Great going EA.
And the AI seems like you put monkeys in the opponents cars after slipping them som LSD first. This TSM thing doesnt impress much, would rather have ghosts than someone who ruins my game so i have do pay even more for every race to repair.

This series had something good going for it, but it just isnt there anymore. Add some real online service and i might find it worth to cash out on.

Sadly enough there is no other racing game i found to itch that nerve so i guess I'll be sticking round with this sad entry to the Real racing series.

But seriously... A 9?! I thought u should review the whole experience not just what is good about the game. The driving mechanics for an android i believe deserves a 9, but the whole picture of the game is a whole other story.
Mar 2013
Post count:
Codman7 | 08:32 - 11 March 2013
I agree with "sacschumac". After almost 8 hours played, got the game to 5% (so not big bunch of skills), got a fully upgraded Nissan Silvia and unlocked (and upgraded a bit) a Lambo Gallardo and the McLaren MP4. Without a dime going off my pocket.

The freemium model is so fair that other developers should take notes. You either have skills or decent patience (something that nowadays seems missing) or pay some real world gold.
Sep 2012
Post count:
Dario Coutinho | 04:03 - 7 March 2013
Make Graphic comparation between Android and iOS version and iOS devices (iPhone 3GS vs iPhone 5 and iPad 2 vs iPad 4)
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: 18 comments >>