Real Racing 3 offers phenomenal gameplay, but is it a sellout to freemium? [App Review]

RR3 Feature

It’s been less than a week since EA dropped the latest instalment in its hit iOS series Real Racing, but the mobile racing simulator is already ruffling feathers in the industry.

Following the success of Real Racing 2, Real Racing 3 has been eagerly anticipated for a while now. EA boasts that the game is “hyper-realistic” and “pure fun”. Eyebrows were raised even further when it was established that the app would be free. Freemium apps have been the center of quite a stir recently, following Apple’s decision to offer $5 in iTunes credit to 23 million customers swindled out of money by small children using freemium apps. That story has been complemented by a select few individual cases, normally sporting a much more substantial bill.

I’ve read review after review slating RR3 because of in-app purchases, The Verge said the game was “ruined” by the feature, and EuroGamer gave it a measly 3/10. What do I say? Stay tuned.

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Takes me back to Need for Speed Shift

Let’s start off with all that is great about this game, and there’s a lot. RR3 models itself as a simulation, and that’s exactly what it is. The game features 46 officially licensed cars, with realistic and individual handling models for each. It also has a great range of real life tracks, including some of the world’s greatest such as Laguna Seca, Silverstone and Hockenheim. All of these features run on EA’s Mint 3 Engine. This engine does a fantastic job of simulating accurate damage, creating reflections and shadows and making racing exhilarating and enjoyable. RR3 has a cool soundtrack, and a wide variety of in game sounds, whilst some of these are a little contrived during racing, they certainly add to the experience, rather than detract from it.

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Impact and damage simulation is fantastic… EA also tips its hat to Apple with a cheeky bit of lens flare.

Under the hood, the game has an awesome variety of customizable control options, which really makes the game accessible to an audience of all skill levels and interests. If you want to simply guide your car around a track, whilst the AI does all of your braking and accelerating, then you can. If however, you’re more of a hardcore gamer, such as myself, you can turn off all AI assistance, and wrestle with your car using only your own skill.Real Racing 3′s graphics and layout is perhaps its greatest feature. Cars look really nice, as do the circuits and surrounding landscape. All the interfaces are really well-designed and easy to use, making for a really seamless gameplay experience. My favourite feature is the Real Racing 3 home screen, which is laid out to replicate a birds-eye view of a starting grid, a fantastic touch. Now remember, this is just a tablet, so we aren’t going to see this game kill Gran Turismo any time soon, however, relative to the mobile gaming world, the gameplay and graphics of Real Racing are second to none.

RR3 features over 900 events, with a nice variety of gametypes. You can compete in standard cup races, or try your hand at more challenging alternatives, such as elimination, endurance challenges and drag racing.

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Everything is better sideways..

The core mechanics of this game undoubtedly make it the best mobile racing simulator on offer right now. And on top of that, EA has added some really nice touches. Cars must now be serviced at regular (though not frequent) intervals, considering basic factors such as the oil, suspension, engine, brakes and tyres of your car. Alongside this is the damage repair feature, which ensures that if you want the best out of your car, you’re going to have to drive a little less recklessly, or see your race winnings take a hit. Whilst many reviews appear to have dismissed these features as inconvenient and a waste of time and money, I think they are a fantastic way to enhance the realism of the game. Which brings me back to my first point, it’s very easy to forget that this is supposed to be a simulation, not an arcade game. Progress through events and towards cars is slower than say, Need for Speed Most Wanted, but that isn’t a bad thing. EA has actually ensured that users invest more time in this game, and ultimately get a better lifespan from the game. I finished Need For Speed Most Wanted in just a couple of days, I’m certainly going to spend more time on this.

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RR3′s glorious home screen…

Real Racing 3 is a great game, sporting some of the finest gameplay and graphics ever seen in mobile gaming. It’s well structured, and promises hours and hours of fun for enthusiasts and casual gamers alike. This is high octane mobile racing at its very best, and anyone who tells you that the freemium structure is unethical or cumbersome, is probably just a bad driver. At this juncture, it might be easy for some to point the finger and say that the slow progress, repairs and unlocks are simply imposed upon us by EA so that they can extort as much money from consumers as is humanly possible, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing available as a freemium purchase can’t be unlocked by simply playing the game and unlocking it through skill and hard work. No consumer will lose out by not choosing to spend money in game, in fact, I would argue that making any sort of purchase in game would be totally stupid, and would in fact detract from the overall fun of the game. At no point in the game are you forced to make in-app purchases, and at no point in the game have I felt the need to make any in app purchases.

@TiP_Stephen

Download Real Racing 3 here!

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