Since I am in Australia I get to play Real Racing 3 (RR3) before the general release on the 28th.
I enjoy racing games and I am a huge fan of the Real Racing franchise, I enjoyed both 1 and 2 enormously. I was looking forward to RR3 with bated breath.
I have to say at one level it doesn’t disappoint, the graphics, controls damage modelling and the addition of having to service a car make it better than RR2 and there are a wide range of tracks and cars to play. There are 27 different racing series to compete in and each series has three or four different cars that can compete in it. A given car can usually compete in several series and might find itself the best possible car in one series but seriously outgunned in another. The cars range from the old Nissan Silvia S15 all the way through US muscle cars and Italian sports cars such as the Lamborghini Aventador to European exotics such as the Bugatti Veyron and Pagani Huayra. Ferrari didn’t license any of their cars to the game and they and Mercedes and the most obvious holes in the supercar lineup.
The tracks are also varied from the almost impossibly tight and unforgiving Southbank track in Melbourne, Australia to the Indianapolis Speedway and more traditional tracks such as Silverstone or Brands Hatch to the wide open long straights of Hockenheim. Mount Panorama, better known as Bathurst, in Australia is even included. So far I’ve found 9 tracks but some have variations of layout so in total I’ve found 17 layouts.
The game play is good with excellent graphics, sound and realism. I love the way my Dodge gets light and skittish when it’s roaring down a long straight. There are a number of different sorts of race; a traditional motor race with a field of 22 called a Cup race, elimination races with a field of eight where the last car gets eliminated every 20 seconds, drag races comprising three rounds, autocross where you have to post the fastest time for a short stretch of track, speed snap where you have to hit the finish line at the highest possible speed, speed record where you have one lap to attain the highest possible speed, endurance where you have a certain amount of time to gain the longest distance with time bonuses for passing and finishing a lap and head to head where you race against one other car.
In Cup races I often seem to find myself racing against cars that are faster along the straight but I can brake a lot deeper into corners and seem to accelerate a little faster out of them so overtaking is often a case of ducking into the inside at a corner. Given that the opponents never deviate from the racing line this often means a lot of damage to the side of my car. Since you start at the back of the pack in Cup and Elimination races you will do a lot of passing.
Damage needs to be repaired and you will also need to service your car. If you neglect either then it will impact the performance of your car. Both damage repair and servicing take time, often stretching into hours. You can speed up both repairs and servicing by spending coins. The game also has R dollars and these are spent on repairs, servicing, buying cars and upgrading cars. There are a few high level cars that are bought with coins rather than R dollars. You gain R dollars by racing, coins are gained when oyu level up your driver – you gain “Fame” in every race and this will make you level up. There are at least 1,000 levels and after three days of heavy play I’m currently level 21.
This leads us to the one difference between RR3 and the two earlier games in the franchise. RR3 is free to install but relies on in-app purchases to earn Firemonkey some money. You can use real money to buy coins, R dollars or packs that contain cars and coins.
Firemonkey have replaced head to head with what they call “Time-Shifted Multiplayer” which means that you can play against friends but they don’t need to be online – rather you play against their last time competing in that race. While I like the idea taking out head to head is a disappointment, I like racing in the online league and also the few times I had a couple of people over to race locally.
So how easy is it to play the game without spending your hard earned money? Not that easy, if you want to avoid in-app purchases you will spend a lot of time racing to earn the dollars for new cars and upgrades. You will need to buy upgrades to your cars – as you progress in one of the racing series the opponents get harder and harder, they also seem to get harder as your driver level progresses. The temptation to spend some money for R dollars to upgrade one or two of your cars is huge. You might also feel the need to spend cash rather than grind through enough races to raise the R dollars required to buy some of the cars with cars such as the Mclaren F1 and a few others costing over a million R dollars. The highest cars will cost you even more – they require up to 800 coins for the Koenigsegg Agera R – that would cost you a lot of game playing or real cash (with 400 gold at $70 or 1,000 at $100). Getting to the top of the cars is going to be costly.
My advice would be to play for a day or two then decide how much you think the game is worth then make a one time purchase of R dollars and coins spending that much.
In the iTunes store there are already a flood of people complaining in their one star reviews about the shift to a free game with in-app purchases. Obviously Electronic Arts, the game publisher, and FireMint, the game developer, feel that they will make more money, and perhaps make money over a longer time, with this model.
While personally I would prefer to pay a generous amount for the game and not have in-app purchases I can understand EA and FireMint wanting to make money. Real Racing 2 had in-app purchases of money to buy cars but no waiting for repairs that could be fixed by spending money. I think Real Racing 3 falls down in that the pressure to spend real cash is too high.
So is this game a worthwhile successor to Real Racing 2? Only just; the graphics are a bit better, the sound is much better (I enjoy the tinkle of breaking glass when another car hits me and the chirrup of the engine when the gears change) and it has a more realistic feel to the controls and car movement. Set that against the loss of head to head and the constant pressure to spend your cash because of the delays in repairs and servicing.
If FireMint sped up the repair and servicing system considerably and gave us back head to head I would have no hesitation in recommending this game but as it is I say you should download it but be ready to delete it when the frustration gets too high.
I should say that there is already talk of an update to the game where repairs are instant and servicing time is cut dramatically though I have yet to see it. I certainly hope so.