The same is true for racing titles released for mobile devices, with the likes of Final Freeway 2R offering eminently playable titles but unremarkable visuals. That’s all changed though with release of Real Racing 3 for Android and iOS.
Yes, those sports-mad coders from EA Games - y’know, the folks behind the ultra-popular FIFA series and any sporty game worth its salt - have seen fit to shovel out the third instalment of the franchise after taking over from previous developers Firemint and Iron Monkey who did Real Racing and Real Racing 2 respectively. “Hmm…top international software house onboard - good start” you might think, and you haven’t even seen the graphics yet. Well, get this – it’s totally free to download too.
Before we get into value for money though, it’s only right that those graphics get a mention. Because what an optical delight they are. The game begins with a cut scene akin to that seen in the likes of Gran Turismo , complete with photorealistic footage of muscle cars and coupés burning round the asphalt bathed in sunlight. There’s even lens flare and that weird shimmery effect you see on summer days when the heat reflects off the tarmac. Told you it was realistic - and the effect is accentuated even more if you’re playing the game on the likes of the HTC One with its wondrous display.
This continues in the actual gameplay too, with the feeling of speed accurately conveyed as you peer out of the windscreen (or from a vantage point behind the car, over the top of the bonnet or from the front bumper – the choice is yours), the advertising hoardings that flash by and clocking all the officially licensed brand logos reproduced with detail.
Real Racing 3 features accurately rendered tracks from the world of motorsport, such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hockenheimring. You also get to play with 46 ‘real’ cars, all of which have been faithfully reproduced and have their own feel. So, if you fancy a zip around in a Bugatti Veyron, you can. Sort of.
You see, this is where the catch comes in. Remember when we said that Real Racing 3 won’t cost you a dime? That’s not strictly true. Downloading and installing the app won’t put a dent in your finances, but if you want to get ahead without ripping your hair out, or extend the longevity of the game, you’ll have to shell out for added extras. And boy, there are many.
The main thrust of the game involves buying a vehicle using the in-game virtual currency (called R$), then racing it in different events to win medals. Doing this allows you to unlock more events, earn cash to improve your car and eventually buy new ones.
Real Racing 3 easy to pick up and play in short bursts, it soon gets boring playing with the one car if you haven’t the will to persist and rack up more medals to get another one.
The solution; pay out real money for ‘gold coins’ that let you unlock features without having to put the hours in on the track.
It’s also worth mentioning that your car will suffer wear and tear the more you race, and even though the accelerometer-powered control method of tilting your device and automatic acceleration are responsive, you’ll still bash into other racers and veer off the road into sand traps on occasion.
This all mounts up and takes its toll on your car, and if you want to stand a chance of progressing in the game and match the impressive AI competitors, you’ll have to get your vehicle tuned, serviced and repaired. There’s all manner of ways this can be done, but, you guessed it, they’re all gonna cost ya.
Controls can be altered so that acceleration and braking can be either manual or automatic, or so that steering is done with a virtual wheel. There’s also loads of ‘driving aids’ such as steering assist, traction control and brake assist that allow you to tweak the way your car handles.
This is palatable if you have more than one motor to your name (a feat only achievable by either playing for an age or dipping into your pocket), but if you haven’t, that’s nearly a wait as long as the first Lord Of The Rings film before you can play again.
Gold coins make this instant, but to earn them you must play for an age, or pay through the nose: 10 coins for £1.49, 30 for £2.99, 65 for £6.99, all the way up to 1,000 for a whopping £69.99! They should wear a mask.
That said, nobody is forcing you to buy this imaginary money, but it does take away from what is otherwise a well executed and stunning looking racing game. The level of detail is immense, game modes such as Time Shifted Multiplayer, which sees you racing against other players (including Facebook friends), are impressive, but then they have to spoil it all by holding your potential progress to ransom.
If you’re the kind who likes to just dip into games when there’s a few minutes to fill, Real Racing 3 is worth a download. However, hardcore gamers without bulging bank accounts or a lot of spare time should steer clear of this one.
The third in the Real Racing series, this graphically superior, high-octane racer brings console-quality gameplay and officially licensed tracks and cars to mobile devices in a way that other driving games have failed. Excellent for the casual gamer who just wants to rev up and go, those who are in it for the long run my find the freemium ‘pay out or be forced to play forever in order to progress’ element a little galling. Shame really as it looks so good and plays so well.
By Dean Quinn, keen mobile gamer and technology writer at Dialaphone - the home of comprehensive mobile phone reviews, awesome deals, and a range of fantastic tech.
The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.
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