Game Review: Real Racing 3

words - Mike Bantick
A mobile App game with plenty of revs, featuring real local colour and an iconic racing back-drop

It's been a long time coming, but Australian developer Firemonkeys has released the highly anticipated Real Racing 3 driving sim - and it's free to download. And for a game running on mobile devices (iPad generation 2, iPhone 4, plus Android) it is a technological treat.

Not only does the game look amazing - arguably one of the sexiest, most detailed mobile games ever - the gameplay is second to none, with excellent physics that will see many raised eyebrows among gamers who traditionally sought PC and console racing games.

Real Racing 3 lets fans race on real world circuits with powerful sports cars from manufacturers like Porsche, Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini Ford and Dodge. With the improvements achieved with Real Racing 2, the team aimed to raise the bar on expectations and continue to give their artists the ability to create the most realistic graphic effects on cars on an individual basis.

Real Racing 3 delivers the unique experience of speeding in some of the best cars on world famous race tracks, such as Laguna Seca, Hockenheim and Silverstone. However Firemonkeys' latest video diary shows off some in-game footage with the parochial angle of highlighting some local racing real-estate.

Not far from the Firemonkeys' developer studio, the team has put together a fictional Melbourne CBD based circuit. Starting outside the Arts Centre players can bump and barge down Flinders street, over Queens Bridge and back to St Kilda road.

More grounded in reality and certainly getting the anticipatory saliva flowing is the inclusion of the Bathurst track at Mt Panorama, along with eight other real world locations.

Firemonkeys are a favoured developer for Apple in particular, having been responsible for smash-hit mobile games such as Flight Control, Need For Speed and The Sims, and the Real Racing franchise has garnered critical praise and was also one of the first racing games to incorporate advanced features. For example RR2 was one of the first games that iPad and iPhone owners could stream to living room televisions via the Air-Play feature of Apple TV.

With Real Racing 3 the Firemonkeys team is focussing on an improved graphical experience for players. The 46 cars from twelve manufactures feature different paint finishes (matt, pearl, gloss), real-time reflections including opponent cars and track features. Simply put, the new game is a vast step up from Real Racing 2.

Damage modelling includes the obvious body work problems encountered during normal bumper to bumper racing, but the realism is what makes this game so compelling. Clogged air filters will be a problem if your driving line takes you off the tarmac a bit too often, for example.

Also a step up from the previous iteration is the sheer number of events available, over 900 in fact, up from 70 in Real Racing 2 and twelve in the original game. This includes simple Speed Record tests and Drag Racing up to Cup races and Elimination events, all across a number of championships.

Winning a trophy in events unlocks new series or, and this is a major change as well, you can pay "gold" to instantly unlock new races, which is how the publisher makes money from players.

You can earn a little bit of gold as your driving level increases through consistent racing, or you can buy in-game currency with a bit of real world dosh.

Speaking to senior product manager Joe Donoghue and the game's producer Kynan Woodman at Firemonkeys, this was the plan from day one of development; "We were trying to retrofit this model into RR2 originally, but it was too difficult. RR3 was designed from the ground up to be free to download."

RR2 cost around $10 when it launched on the App Store while RR3 is free, with only your impatience or the need to reward the developers requiring you to put any "hard earned" into the game.

The only downside to the game is the waiting around for your new car to be delivered, serviced or repaired (tip: race carefully!), which can mean instant gratification is not always an option. Of course that's where the game earns revenue, as gamers can bypass such waits by using gold. That said, this is not too much of an issue once a stable of cars is acquired; one in the shop, one on the road is more than manageable.

The big driver (pun intended) that will push gamers to open their wallets is friendly competiveness. Though the game does not offer real-time multiplayer, you can race your mates 'ghost' car based on the times they clocked. And once a few mates appear in your game with their grinning visages and lap records to beat, it is difficult not to get caught up in a virtual game of one-upmanship.

Firemonkeys calls it Time Shift Multiplayer (TSM) and regardless of whether your friends are online or not, a real car will race against you in the chosen event. Regardless of their time however, beating their car in the race will result in dollar bonuses.

In my opinion this TSM social aspect to the game is the most addictive part of the game, adding something novel to the game. Even without this feature it would be a must-have game; the sound effects, visuals, handling physics and even the choices you make round out the quality of this highly polished offering. That it's from an Australia developer making it big world-wide is icing on the cake.

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Published : Saturday, 23 February 2013
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